Accurate interpretation of the cause and timing of bone breakage is essential for understanding the archaeological record. However, many variables potentially influencing break morphology have yet to be systematically explored. Focusing primarily on hammerstone breakage, we introduce new analytical methods for comparing fracture angles using the absolute values of the angle from 90°. We systematically control for intrinsic variables such as taxon, skeletal element, limb portion and skeletal age. We also compare experimental assemblages of femora broken by hammerstone and spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). We show that fracture angles are influenced by breakage plane, skeletal element and limb portion. While the latter two have been suggested before, this is the first time the differences have been quantified. We suggest that researchers stratify their assemblages by these variables if they are using fracture angles in analyses. At the assemblage level, hyenas created more oblique fracture angles on oblique breaks than did hammerstones.
- bone breakage
- carnivore and human bone modification
- experimental archaeology
ASJC Scopus subject areas