The Bone Test!

Posted on June 19th, 2013 by

Erin PruhsA blog post by collections intern Erin Pruh. Erin is working with the Lloyd Street Synagogue archaeological collections this summer with Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink.

LSS_Erin 006

This is a weird artifact that appeared while taking pictures of the Lloyd Street Synagogue archaeological excavation materials. most of the objects have been parts of bricks, glass or rusted nails, but this appears to be a bead.

LSS_Erin 007

The bead looked like it was made of bone, but I wanted to be sure, so I tested it.

LSS_Erin 001

One way to test, which there is a pretend picture of, is putting the end of the bone to your tongue – if it sticks, it’s bone. (No objects were actually licked in the making of this photoset.)

Another way, which is the way that was done, is putting it in water.  If it floats, it's wood - if it sinks, it's bone.

Another way, which is the way that was done, is putting it in water. If it floats, it’s wood – if it sinks, it’s bone.

It is, in fact, bone!

It is, in fact, bone!

ETA:  In response to some comments over on our facebook page: “I did more research when i got home – I had very little time to actually look into it before it was posted. had a friend of mine who is a bioanth look at pics and she says it’s not bone. It’s really hard to tell. It doesn’t look like any kind of ceramic that i have seen. i specialize in late prehistoric ceramics (grit and shell tempers). I was debating about it being clay – but considered it. The records don’t give any information and previous interns considered it possibly bone. Another option, which I am really skeptical about, is it being made from horn. I appreciate the input and will definitely look more into it. A pipe stem would fit the context. There are some records where past interns noted objects that would be from prehistoric context, such as a stone tool, which is missing…but there are no records that indicate that there was any prehistoric activity in this area. thanks for letting me know what it is!” -Erin

Posted in jewish museum of maryland