Korean J Phys Anthropol.  2014 Mar;27(1):29-37. 10.11637/kjpa.2014.27.1.29.

Forensic Anthropological Study on Saw Marks Appearing on the Tibiae of a Joseon Skeleton

  • 1Department of Anatomy, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Korea.
  • 2Department of Anatomy, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea. cuteminjae@gmail.com
  • 3Department of Anatomy, Dankook University College of Medicine, Korea.
  • 4Institute for the Translation of Korean Classics, Korea.
  • 5Central Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea.
  • 6Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies at the Seoul National University, Korea.


Tomb with lime-soil mixture barrier (LSMB) was constructed by the people from upper class people of Joseon Dynasty. The coffin of LSMB was surrounded by hard concrete barriers, being successfully protected from outside invasions until the archaeological excavation begins. The human remains were extremely preserved well, providing important information on the health and illness of the people of Joseon dynasty. Recent investigation into human skeletons from LSMB in Yong-in city was another forensic anthropological case that was very meaningful to our research. During the examination on the elderly Joseon female bones, we discovered unusual saw-marks on the shaft of both tibiae. We could not find any osteological evidences suggestive of healed bone process. Considering archaeological and anthropological findings altogether, the occurrence time of saw-marks was considered to be perimortem period. However, as for why such a saw mark was made on the tibiae, we did not get any information about it. We expect that this report facilitate other researcher to do explore the usefulness of forensic anthropology examination on the similar human skeleton cases identified in various archaeological ruins.


Saw-marks; Tibia; Trauma analysis; Instrument; Tomb with LSMB; Joseon Dynasty

MeSH Terms

Forensic Anthropology


  • Fig. 1. Excavation site in Bojeong-dong, Yongin-si where Joseon tomb was discovered. (A) Red dot in map of Korean peninsula indicates the site.(B) Archaeological Site.

  • Fig. 2. Skeletal remains in Joseon tomb #2 before collection. (A) Note the natural anatomical arrangement of bones. (B) Artificial deformity represented on the right tibia(indicated by red arrow) could be seen before gathering the bones in the field. (C) is the magnified image of (B). SK, skull; LSMB, lime soil mixture barrier; Vbr, vertebrae; Sc, sacrum; RFm, right femur; LFm, left femur; RTb, right tibia; LTb, left tibia.

  • Fig. 3. Entire appearance of right and left tibia showing the saw marks on its lower one-third of the shaft.

  • Fig. 4. Close-up picture of the saw mark on the shaft of tibia and drawing of concept of explaining the kerf sign. Note the kerf be considered as protruded teeth of wobbling saw blade just like the alphabet ‘M' on the cut mark of bone.

  • Fig. 5. Hesitation-like mark on the surface of right tibia. Note the excoriation of cortical bone with more bright colors under the saw mark considering results of repeated sawing at first trial.



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