FOCUS: on the use of the petrous bone for estimating cranial abundance in fossil assemblages

Guy Bar-Oz, Tamar Dayan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Low representation of braincase bones in zooarchaeological assemblages suggests that skulls have been intensively processed by Levantine Epipalaeolithic foragers; most cranial elements are often unidentifiable and are considered poor candidates for quantifying crania. In contrast, the petrous bone is usually found complete, and was found to be easily identifiable to body size category. Use of the petrous bone in fossil assemblages analyses leads to better estimation of the occurrence of cranial elements, and thus of skeletal part representation. We therefore suggest use of the petrous bone for detecting bone destruction and selective transport in faunal assemblages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1356-1360
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Israel Hershkovitz for first showing us the petrous bone, Sapir Had for drawing the gazelle crania, and an anonymous reviewer for his thoughtful comments. Research was funded in part by the ISRAEL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (grant 147/04) and the Faculty of Humanities, University of Haifa.


  • Braincase
  • Cranium
  • Petrous
  • Skeletal part representation
  • Taphonomy
  • Zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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