Measuring Wear in Bone Tools

A UC Davis anthropologist has been building a catalog of high-resolution 3D models of bone tools worn by working various materials, all in the name of archaeology.

UC Davis graduate student Naomi Martisius with a rib bone she has shaped as a leather-working tool. Bone tools like these are often found in archaeological sites with the tips broken off.

Humans have been using bone tools for about two million years, and by about 100 thousand years ago were processing bones to make tools for specific purposes, such as working animal skins into leather. Both the way tools are made, and the way they are used, leave tiny marks on the bones that could give information about how these tools were prepared and used.

The Whole Tooth: New Method to Find Biological Sex From a Single Tooth

A team led by UC Davis researchers have come up with a new way to estimate the biological sex of human skeletal remains based on protein traces from teeth.

Tooth of a European-American buried in San Francisco in the 1850s. A new technique developed at UC Davis allows archaeologists
to find a person’s biological sex based on a single tooth. (Jelmer Eerkens)

Estimating the sex of human remains is important for archaeologists who want to understand ancient societies and peoples. Researchers can measure features of bones that differ between males and females, usually the pelvis. But skeletons of children and adolescents don’t show these structural changes, and often sites may only yield a few pieces of bone.

People Lived in Chilly Andean Highlands Year-Round Over 7,000 Years Ago

By Karen Nikos-Rose

A summer hike at 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) is challenging given the lack of oxygen, frigid temperatures, and exposure to elements. Now imagine living year-round at high elevation without your high-tech gear or modern foods.

High-altitude plateaus are challenging places to live, but archaeologists have found hunter-gatherers colonized the Andean Highlands 7,000 years ago. Photo by Lauren A. Hayes

Scientists debate whether early human populations could have done so, but a new UC Davis study confirms that intrepid hunter-gatherers—women, men, and children—called the Andean highlands home over 7,000 years ago.