Archeological bone injuries by lithic backed projectiles: new evidence on bear hunting from the Late Epigravettian site of Cornafessa rock shelter (Italy)
Despite the widespread application of high-resolution quantitative methods in bone taphonomy, very few studies have focused on projectile impact marks. Therefore, in a previous work, we explored the potential of 3D microscopy in distinguishing bone hunting injuries from other taphonomic marks, developing a widely applicable diagnostic framework based on experimental data and focused on Late Epigravettian projectiles. This paper aims to continue that research by applying 3D morphometrical analysis to zooarcheological bone surfaces, in order to verify the validity and feasibility of this method and evaluate the reliability of the experimental record. Here, we present the detailed analysis of a projectile impact mark, found on a rib of Ursus arctos from the Late Epigravettian site of Cornafessa rock shelter. The injury, located on the rib's external surface, consists of a drag with several flint fragments embedded. X-ray μCT volume rendering and SEM imaging allowed us to analyze bone microstructure and drag's qualitative features, while 3D measurements, processed through statistic, confirmed the interpretation of this mark as a hunting injury. The drag's morphometric features are consistent with the experimental ones, connecting this mark to Late Epigravettian composite projectiles and declaring this evidence as the first direct proof of a bear hunted by using bow and arrow.