Raw Material Identification

An important question in the analysis of bone artefacts is the determination of the applied raw material. In many cases artefacts retaining anatomical features can be identified by morphological archaeozoological analysis – a field too wide to be dealt here with in detail. However, heavily worked objects often do not retain morphological criteria allowing species identification. The latter can be determined by histological criteria, some of which shall be outlined on this page.

The page is edited and maintained by Marloes Rijkelijkehuizen (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands). Please contact her for enquiries, contributions etc.


References dealing with raw material identification:

Ashby, Steven P. (2005): Bone and antler combs: Towards a methodolgy for the understanding of trade and identity in Viking Age England and Scotland. in: Luik, Heidi / Choyke, Alice M. / Batey, Colleen / Lougas, Lembi (eds.): 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, 255-262, Tallinn

Banerjee, Arun / Bortolaso, Giovanna / Dindorf, Willi (2008): Distinction between African and Asian Ivory. in: Roth, J. & Bortolaso, Giovanna (eds.): Ivory and Species Conservation. Proceedings of INCENTIVS – Meetings (2004 - 2007), Bundesamt für Naturschutz Skripten 228, 37-49, Bonn

Cutler, Anthony & Götherström, Anders (2008): African or Asian? DNA Analysis of Byzantine and Western Medieval Ivories. in: Roth, J. & Bortolaso, Giovanna (eds.): Ivory and Species Conservation. Proceedings of INCENTIVS – Meetings (2004 - 2007), Bundesamt für Naturschutz Skripten 228, 73-80, Bonn

Deschler-Erb, Sabine (1998): Römische Beinartefakte aus Augusta Raurica – Rohmaterial, Technologie und Chronologie, Band 1: Text und Tafeln, Forschungen in Augst 27/1, Augst

Demeter, György & Mátyás, Jenó (1928): Mikroskopisch vergleichend-anatomische Studien an Röhrenknochen mit besonderer Rücksicht auf die Unterscheidung menschlicher und tierischer Knochen. – Zeitschrift für Anatomie und Entwicklungsgeschichte 87, 45-99

Espinoza, Edgard O. & Mary-Jacque, Mann (2008): Ivory Identification Guide: An Introduction, Identification Guides for Wildlife Law Enforcement, Ashland OR

Halat, Eva (2003): Modernes Scrimshaw, Ludwigshafen

Hampel, Andrea & Banerjee, Arun (1995): Identifizierung und Differenzierung von Elfenbein am Beispiel des merowingerzeitlichen Grabfundes aus dem Frankfurter Dom. – Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 25, 143-153

Harsanyi, L. (1993): Differential diagnosis of human and animal bone. in: Grupe, Gisela & Garland, A. N. (eds.): Histology of Ancient Human Bone: Methods and Diagnosis, 79-94, Heidelberg 

Jäger, Helmut (1995): Technik und Werkstoff. in: Dinger, Brigitte / Kappel, Jutta / Trommer, Elke (eds.): Wiedergewonnen – Elfenbein Kunststücke aus Dresden – eine Sammlung des Grünen Gewölbes, 42-53, Erbach

Jowsey, Jenifer (1966): Studies of Haversian systems in man and some animals. – Journal of Anatomy 100(4), 857-864
download (pdf 1,5 MB)

Klinzmann, Carola (1997): Horn, Schildpatt und Fischbein – Möglichkeiten der Identifizierung und Konservierung, unveröffentlichte Diplomarbeit, Köln

Krzyszkowska, Olga (1990): Ivory and Related Materials: An Illustrated Guide, University of London Institute of Classical Studies Bulletin Supplement 59, London

Liesau von Lettow Vorbeck, Corinne / Banerjee, Arun / Schwarz, Jens-Oliver (2011): Camino de las Yeseras' ivory collection: advances in analysis technology used in identifying raw material. in: Blasco, Concepcíon / Liesau von Lettow Vorbeck, Corinne / Rios, Patricia (eds.): Yacimientos calcolíticos con campaniforme de la region Madrid: nuevos estudios 6, 381-386, Madrid

O'Connor, Sonia (1987): The Identification of osseous and keratinaceous materials at York. in: Starling, Katherine & Watkinson, David (eds.): Archaeological Bone, Antler and Ivory, UKIC Occasional Papers 5, 9-21, London
download (pdf 8,6 MB)

O'Connor, Terry (1987): On the structure, chemistry and decay of bone, antler and ivory. in: Starling, Katherine & Watkinson, David (eds.): Archaeological Bone, Antler and Ivory, UKIC Occasional Papers 5, 6-8, London

O'Connor, Sonia / Solazzo, Caroline / Collins, Matthew J. (2014): Advances in identifying archaeological traces of horn and other keratinous hard tissues. – Studies in Conservation

O'Connor, Sonia (2016): The Cowisht Project: Enhancing the Identification of Artefact Raw Materials. – Cuadernos del Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Pensamiento Latinoamericano – Series Especiales 3(2), 4-22

Penniman, T. K. (1984): Pictures of Ivory and other Animal Teeth Bone and Antler – With a brief commentary on their use in identification, 2nd Reprinting, Occasional Papers on Technology 5, Oxford

Poplin, Francois & Rahimifar, Mahnaz (2006): L'Ivoire de Rhinoceros et les Ivoire du proche-orient ancien. – Comptes Rendus des Séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belle-Lettres (CRAI) 4-6/2006, 1119-1130

Rijkelijkhuizen, Marloes J. (2008): Handleiding voor de determinatie van haarde dierlijke materialien – bot gewei ivoor hoorn schildpad balein hoef, Amsterdam

Sims, Margaret E. & Baker, Barry W. (2006): Tusk or Bone?: an Example of Fake Walrus Ivory in the Wildlife Trade, Identification Guides for Wildlife Law Enforcement 10, Ashland OR

Springate, M. (1997): Identifying Different Types of Ivory

Vercoutère, Carole / Müller, Katharina / Chiotti, L. / Nespoulet, Roland / Staude, A. / Riesemeier, H. / Reiche, Ina (2011): Rectangular Beads from the Final Gravettian Level of the Abri Pataud: Raw Material Identification and its Archaeological Implications. – ArchéoSciences 35, 259-271, pl. 21-22

Wehrmeister, U. / Gluhak, T. M. / Götz, H. / Jacob, Dorit E. (2013): Zerstörungsfreie Unterscheidung zwischen afrikanischem und asiatischem Elefanten-Elfenbein mittels FT-Raman-Spektroskopie und statistischer Methoden. – Metalla Sonderheft 6, 218-220