The Worked Bone Research Group (WBRG) is an official Working Group of the International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ) since June 2000. The purpose of the WBRG is to improve communication between individuals studying worked animal hard tissues (especially bone, antler, and ivory) with special emphasis on archaeological finds. A broad diachronic, and multi-disciplinary approach is emphasized in order to promote the exchange of ideas concerning attitudes to and procurement of raw materials, technology, and cognitive aspects of bone working.

The Worked Bone Research Group (WBRG) was formed during an informal meeting of circa 30 specialists organized by Ian Riddler of the Canterbury Trust held at the British Museum London in February 1997. Since then the group has held biennial international conferences. The results of the meetings have been published in several conference volumes.

The WBRG group runs a closed mailing list. Enquiries or announcements can be placed there.

Topics at recent conferences have included discussions of individual assemblages, the results of experimental research on both manufacturing techniques and use wear, including macro wear with low stereoscopic magnifications and micro wear employing a metallographic light microscope with a great deal of emphasis on verification of identification by experiment. Attention has also been increasingly focused on selection of raw materials and the relationship between technology and continuity of social traditions. The level of scientific discussion at these meetings has been increasingly high with the active participation of many younger colleagues. Despite the wide range of periods represented, the essence of the discussions dealt with methodological and theoretical considerations rather than details of local typologies. There is a sense that a general consensus is beginning to emerge around approaches to this class of archaeological object.

A number of perennial problems encountered by worked bone specialists should be mentioned here. Separation of artifacts recognized as worked in the field from objects pulled out of the faunal assemblage remains a serious practical problem. We also face the need to carry out focused ethnographic research on how living people actually choose to use bone as a raw material and how they use and discard bone tools and ornaments. People still regularly using bone implements are rapidly disappearing. In many cases, only the older generation has any memory of the role of bone tools played in various kinds of social interaction, critical imponderables which are very difficult to get at from archaeological material alone. And of course, despite the increasing interest in the topic jobs paying people to do this kind of analysis remain far and few between. Thus, many of these new, excellent scholars will have a difficult time continuing such work after their studies are over. 

This information has been contributed by Alice M. Choyke, WBWG Liaison to ICAZ. Anyone wishing to inquire about the WBRG should write to her either at Choyke@ceu.hu or h13017cho@iif.hu.


The WBRG is closely related to the Groupement de Recherche Europeen • Exploitation des Matieres Osseuses dans l'Europe Prehistorique (GDRE Prehistos).


WBRG Publications

 2014 sanrafael pub cover   • Session at ICAZ 2014 San Rafael:
Choyke, Alice M. / Christie, Annalisa / Scheinsohn, Vivian / Buc, Natacha (2016):
Global patterns in the exploitation of animal-based raw materials: technological and socio-cultural issues. - Cuadernos del Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Pensamiento Latinoamericano Series Especiales 3(2)
 2014 beograd pub cover   • 10th meeting Beograd 2014:
Vitezović, Selena (2016)
Close to the bone: current studies in bone technologies, Beograd
 2013 zhengzhou pub cover   • 9th meeting Zhengzhou 2013:
Ma, Xiaolin & Hou, Yanfeng (2014):
Proceedings of the 9th Meeting of the (ICAZ) Worked Bone Research Group, Zhengzhou, China, 2013, Zooarchaeology 2, Beijing
2011 salzburg pub cover   • 8th meeting Salzburg 2011:
Lang, Felix (2013):
The Sound of Bones. Proceedings of the 8th Meeting of the ICAZ Worked Bone Research Group in Salzburg 2011, Archaeo Plus. Schriften zur Archäologie und Archäometrie der Paris Lodron-Universität Salzburg 5
2010 icaz paris pub-cover   • Session at ICAZ 2010 Paris:
Choyke, Alice M. & O'Connor, Sonia (2013):
From These Bare Bones: Raw Materials and the Study of Worked Osseous Objects, Oxford
2009 wroclaw pub cover   • 7th meeting Wroclaw 2009:
Baron, Justyna & Kufel-Diakowska, Bernadeta (2011):
Written in Bones. Studies on technological and social contexts of past faunal skeletal remains, Wroclaw
2007 paris pub cover   • 6th meeting Paris 2007 and session at ICAZ 2006 Mexico City:
Legrand-Pineau, Alexandra / Sidéra, Isabelle / Buc, Natacha / David, Eva / Scheinsohn, Vivian (2010):
Ancient and Modern Bone Artefacts from America to Russia. Cultural, technological and functional signature, British Archaeological Reports International Series 2136, Oxford
2003 tallinn pub cover   • 4th meeting Tallinn 2003:
Luik, Heidi / Choyke, Alice M. / Batey, Colleen / Lougas, Lembi (2005):
From Hooves to Horns, from Mollusc to Mammoth – Manufacture and Use of Bone Artefacts from Prehistoric Times to the Present – Proceedings of the 4th Meeting of the ICAZ Worked Bone Research Group at Tallinn, 26th–31st of August 2003, Muinasaja teadus 15, Tallinn
1999 budapest pub cover   • 2nd meeting Budapest 1999:
Choyke, Alice M. & Bartosiewicz, Laszlo (2001):
Crafting Bone: Skeletal Technologies through Time and Space – Proceedings of the 2nd meeting of the (ICAZ) Worked Bone Research Group Budapest, 31 August – 5 September 1999, British Archaeological Reports International Series 937, Oxford
1997 london pub cover   • 1st meeting London 1997:
Riddler, Ian D. (2003):
Materials of Manufacture. The choice of materials in the working of bone and antler in northern and central Europe during the first millennium AD, British Archaeological Reports International Series 1193, Oxford
WBRG logo   A printable version of the WBRG-Logo (300 dpi) is provided here for download.