Modern analogy, cultural theory and experimental replication: a merging point at the cutting edge of archaeology.
World Archaeology, 40
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An experimental approach to cut-mark investigation has proved particularly successful and should arguably be a prerequisite for individuals interested in developing standard methods to study butchery data. This paper offers a brief review of the criteria used to investigate cut marks and subsequently outlines recent research that has integrated results from replication studies of archaeological tools and cut marks with written resources to study historic butchery practices. The case is made for a degree of standardization to be incorporated into the recording of butchery data and for the integration of evidence from the analysis of cut marks and tool signatures. While the call for standardization is not without precedent the process would benefit from a suitable model: one is proposed herein based in large part on experimental replication and personal vocational experience gained in the modern butchery trade. Furthermore, the paper identifies issues that need to be kept at the forefront of an experimental approach to butchery investigation and places emphasis on the use of modern analogy and cultural theory as a means of improving our interpretation of cut-mark data.