Worked Bone Research Group

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Worked Bone Research Group

30 August to 3 September 2021

Thank you to all of our presenters who helped make the conference a success! Without you there would have been no conference.

Session recordings

Session 1:

Session 2:

Session 3:

Session 4:

Session 5:

Proceedings of the 14th Worked Bone Research Group

The conference proceedings will be published as a special issue of Quaternary International and will be open to anyone. The submission portal will be activated in the second quarter of 2022. Further information will be communicated in due course.

Conference prizes

The conference organisers and our sponsor, the Palaeontological Scientific Trustare pleased to announce the winners of the 14th Worked Bone Research Group conference presentation prizes.

In the category of best student presentation, we are delighted to award the prize of R14 000 to Ms Hildegard Muller for her presentation entitled ‘Learning by doing – experimental archaeology and microwear analysis on Roman bone artefacts‘. This project presents a novel approach that applies traceology and experimental archaeology to the study of Roman-period bone artefacts in order to assess the reliability of previous functional typological interpretations. The adjudication panel was particularly impressed with the clear and well-organised presentation of the research problem and the thorough design of the experimental protocols. We hope that Ms Muller can use the prize money to further her studies in this interesting area of research.


In the category of best overall presentation, we are pleased to award the prize of R14 000 to Dr Rhiannon Stammers from La Trobe University for her presentation entitled ‘Technology or taphonomy? A study of the world’s oldest bone tools‘. The adjudicators were impressed with the clarity and organisation of the presentation and the well-conceptualised, scientific methods used in answering the main research question of whether certain bone artefacts found in some South African Early Stone Age deposits are of anthropogenic or natural taphonomic origin. We hope that this prize encourages Dr Stammers to continue her research into this fascinating area of human evolution.


Congratulations to both of our prize winners! The organising committee is also very pleased with the high quality of presentations generally. Thank you to all of our presenters for sharing your research with us.

Conference Programme

The final conference programme is available for download here. The presentation schedule also appears below. The times indicated are in South African Standard Time (GMT+2). Sessions will open 15 minutes before the starting times indicated.







The 14th Worked Bone Research Group (WBRG) conference is proudly hosted by the University of Johannesburg. We look forward to welcoming you during the week of 30 August to 3 September 2021. Please note that registration for the conference has now closed as we have reached capacity. Links to join the Zoom sessions will be sent via Email to registered participants a day or two before each session.

We are pleased to be welcoming 38 presenters from 24 countries, including eight speakers who will be presenting research from the African continent – the largest number in the 24-year history of the WBRG. This is the first time the conference will be hosted by an African institution, the first time by an institution in the Southern Hemisphere, and the first time that it will be online.

The purpose of the WBRG is to improve communication between individuals studying worked animal hard tissues (especially bone, antler, and ivory) with special emphasis on archaeological finds. A broad diachronic, and multi-disciplinary approach is emphasized in order to promote the exchange of ideas concerning attitudes to and procurement of raw materials, technology, and cognitive aspects of bone working.

This first African-hosted WBRG conference is generously sponsored by the Palaeontological Scientific Trust, who have agreed, in light of the move to the online format, to convert part of the conference grant to presenter prizes and student bursaries. Further information will be announced at the opening session on Monday 30 August. We are also delighted to be able to screen a short, not-to-be-missed theatrical production that highlights the value of archaeology and palaeoscience in confronting current issues in society.


Registration (closed)

Because the conference is now being hosted online we are able to open it up to all who are interested. If you would like to attend one or more sessions and are not presenting a paper please complete the registration form by copying and pasting this link into your internet browser and following the instructions – A link to join the session/s will be sent to you closer to the time.

Call for abstracts (CLOSED)

Please click here to download the call for abstracts. Please note that there is a section to vote on a Covid contingency plan, should the need arise. Deadline for abstract submissions is extended to 31 January 2021. Please submit your abstracts to


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