Sharp force trauma (SFT) is a mechanism of traumatic injury in which a tool with a pointed or slanted edge impacts the skin and/or bone, producing a penetrating cut mark. Current assessment of forensic and bioarchaeological contexts typically focuses on evaluating and interpreting traumatic injuries to bone due to cutting and stabbing using small, bladed tools, primarily knives and saws. Minimal research focuses on the damage inflicted by a larger class of chopping/hacking tools. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to experimentally evaluate and analyze macroscopic characteristics of chopping/hacking trauma inflicted on pig bones (Sus scrofa domesticus) to determine if differentiation of chopping/hacking tool type can be made based on the characteristics that occur on bone. Trauma was inflicted to 20 partially fleshed pig limbs utilizing four chopping/hacking tools (i.e., axe, hatchet, machete, and cleaver) as well as a carving knife for comparison. The limbs were macerated and cleaned, then macroscopic evaluation and data analysis of 16 sharp force cut mark characteristics was conducted to assess statistical significance. Interobserver error data was also collected and evaluated. Utilizing a chi-square analysis, three of the 16 sharp force cut mark characteristics demonstrated statistically significant differences in relation to the tool utilized, though Cramer's V correlations indicate weak effect sizes. For interobserver error, the kappa value for the overall measure of agreement concerning characteristics for each tool type and characteristics regardless of tool type indicated substantial agreement for both categories. While similar trends in wall regularity, kerf bisection, and edge chattering have been demonstrated in the current experimental literature, the results relating to the macroscopic differentiation of chopping/hacking tool mark characteristics on bone were not strongly confirmed. Future analysis utilizing both macroscopic and microscopic methods is planned as previous research has noted tool class characteristics may be differentiated microscopically.


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Graduation Date





Schultz, John


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program



CFE0009226; DP0026829





Release Date

August 2023

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)