Archaeology » Archaeology methods » Archaeozoology

Archaeozoology also known as Archaeozoology, is the study of animal remains from archaeological sites. The remains consist primarily of the hard parts of the body such as bones, teeth, and shells. Such remains may represent the food refuse of ancient populations as well as animals used for transportation, farm or other labor or pet, or for decoration, clothing and tools and the scrap therefrom.


The Environmental Archaeology Program maintains two types of zooarchaeological research collections. One, the reference or comparative collection, contains skeletons or shells of modern animal species used to identify zooarchaeological materials. The zooarchaeology collection houses samples of animal remains excavated from archaeological sites.

These two collections are irreplaceable vouchers that document characteristics of animal species and provide evidence for a better understanding of conditions and economies of the past. As such they are given the best care possible to ensure their integrity. They are maintained under carefully climate-controlled conditions in a systematic storage system in association with all archived data, reports, and publications.

The collection of reference materials has to be done in full compliance with all laws governing the acquisition of such specimens. Sampling of plant and animal remains recovered from archaeological sites must also adhere to legal regulations and ethical considerations governing archaeological excavations.


Archaeozoology Contains Following Chapter:

The reference collection of skeletons and shells is used for comparison with fragmentary remains excavated from archaeological sites. Measurement data from these specimens are used to correlate linear dimensions or the weight of the supporting tissue with the entire weight of the organism. Such correlations can then be applied to the archaeological remains to estimate the whole body weight of the identified animal and the potential amount of meat it could have provided to the prehistoric human diet.

The collection includes over 8000 specimens of southeastern North American and circum Caribbean species of vertebrates and mollusks. [The FLMNH houses many other major animal collections that are used by zooarchaeologists as additional comparative materials.] The specimens in the Environmental Archaeology zoological reference collection are representatives of only those species frequently encountered in archaeological sites.] One of the major vertebrate groups of species in our reference collection is the fishes.

reference collections

The zooarchaeological collection includes assemblages from over 560 accessioned sites that are organized by region: southeastern North America, West Indies, Middle America, and western South America. Of the accessioned sites 293 have been studied and catalogued. They include 98,000 catalogued entries of 3,006,000 identified specimens. The uncatalogued portion of the collection includes 179 assemblages that have not been studied or are in the process of being studied and 91 samples that were sent to us for identifications and then returned to the excavator or the country of origin once analyzed.

Two thirds of the catalogue data is in a customized Microsoft ACCESS data management system. The data management system was designed for us by William Paine (FLMNH) and Timothy Young (UF student) and in part supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation #SBR 9511302. The system is a relational database that can be searched for various types of information such as the sites from a particular locale or the sites from which a particular species has been identified. In the near future we will add a complete bibliography of the references pertaining to the sites studied. As part of the zooarchaeological collection, we maintain the records and reports for each site.

zooarchaeological collections

Books on the Archaeozoology :
archaeobotany  Archaeozoology of the Near East III - H. Buitenhuis, L. Bartosiewicz, Alice Mathea Choyke, International Council for Archaeozoology, Centre for Archeological Research and Consultancy, 1998.

Archaeozoology of the Near East III: proceedings of the third international symposium on the archaeozoology of southwestern Asia and adjacent areas, Volume 3.

Tropical archaeobotany  Archaeozoology of the Near East II- H. Buitenhuis, Hans-Peter Uerpmann, Backhuys Publishers, 1995

Archaeozoology of the Near East II: proceedings of the Second International Symposium on the Archaeozoology of Southwestern Asia and Adjacent Areas.

Archaeozoology in Africa  Archaeozoology in Africa:- Victoria, August 25, 1998.

Archaeozoology in Africa: papers presented at the 8th International Congress of ICAZ.

Rich Resources over the web on Archaeozoology
  • Archaeozoology in Wiki :Zooarchaeology, also known as Archaeozoology, is the study of animal remains from archaeological sites. The remains consist primarily of the hard parts of the body such as bones, teeth, and shells.

  • Introduction to Archaeozoology : Archaeozoology Archaeozoology allows us a glimpse into the past through the study of animal remains in prehistoric times. Economic transactions between ancient peoples can be determined and paints a more complete picture of life in prehistoric times.

Diciplines by Regional study
  • African Archaeology

    African Archaeology Africa has the longest record of human activity of any part of the world and along with its geographical extent; it contains an enormous archaeological resource. Scholars have studied Egyptology for centuries but archaeologists have only paid serious attention to the rest of the continent in more recent times.
  • American Archaeology

    American Archaeology Archaeology of the Americas is the learning of the archaeology of North America, Central America (or Mesoamerica), South America and the Caribbean, which is to say, the pre-history and Pre-Columbian history of Native American peoples.
  • European archaeology

    European Archaeology In terms of area, Europe is the world's second smallest continent, with an area of 10,400,000 kmē (4,000,000 square miles), making it slightly larger than Australia.
  • Medival archaeology

    Medival archaeology The period covers the commotion caused by the fall of the Medival archaeology Roman Empire and cultures such as the Vikings, Saxons and Franks.
  • Near Eastern Archaeology

    Near Eastern Archaeology Near Eastern Archaeology is a wide generalised application, and is divided into further regional sub-branches, the archaeology of modern states in the region or along broad thematic lines.
  • Post Medieval Archaeology

    Post Medieval Archaeology The Post Medieval Archaeology is considered as a bi-annual journal study of the material evidence of European society. This period saw the conversion of medieval to industrial society.
  • Modern Archaeology

    Modern Archaeology In contrast to the antiquarianism of classical archaeology, anthropological archaeology today is concerned with culture history (i.e., the chronology of events and cultural traditions) and the explanation of cultural processes.

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