Module code: AR3017

Module co-ordinator: Dr Richard Thomas

Animal bones are ubiquitous archaeological finds and it is well-recognised that their detailed study can shed light on a diverse range of past human activities including:

  • subsistence strategies
  • economic regimes
  • the use of animals and animal parts in craft and industry
  • attitudes to animals
  • the symbolic role of animals in cosmology, ritual/religion and as food items.

The importance of these lines of investigation, together with the abundance of faunal remains on many sites, means that analyses of animal bone are now routinely undertaken as part of the post-excavation process.

This module offers a practical introduction to the study of animal bones from archaeological sites (archaeozoology or zooarchaeology) as a means of exploring the relationships between human societies and animals in the past. Each session consists of a lecture on particular aspects of archaeozoological methodology and interpretation. You will spend the rest of your time in the lab, working on bone remains from archaeological sites, and learning the skills of a professional archaeozoologist.

Topics covered

  • species and skeletal part identification
  • ageing and sexing
  • measuring
  • identifying butchery and taphonomic modifications
  • recognising disease.


  • 10 hours of lectures
  • 20 hours of practical workshops


  • Essay (50%)
  • Practical project (40%)
  • Practical test (10%)