Zooarchaeology Laboratories | Archaeological Investigations | SIU

Southern Illinois University



organized skeletal fragments

Zooarchaeology Laboratories

The CAI houses two Zooarchaeology Laboratories that support the study of human-animal relationships and ancient animal populations.


lab shelvesIn the Zooarchaeology Research Laboratory, established in 2004, students are trained in zooarchaeological methods and theories. It houses one of the largest comparative collections of modern animal skeletons in southern Illinois and the greater Midwest. The collection contains more than 900 skeletons representing over 200 animal species (including mammals, birds, reptiles, fishes, and mollusks). Comparative skeletons are vital tools in zooarchaeological research, because they allow faunal analysts to match ancient bone fragments recovered during archaeological excavations to whole bones from modern animals of known species. The research conducted in this lab includes projects by undergraduate and graduate students and faculty. To read more about these projects, please visit the Zooarchaeology Research page.


student cleaning carcass boneIn the Zooarchaeology Processing Laboratory, students learn to process donated animal carcasses so that only clean, dry bones remain. These newly cleaned skeletons are added to the comparative collection housed in the Research Laboratory. Information collected about the deceased animal (such as species, age, sex, weight, size, etc.) help researchers to better understand ancient animal populations. The skeletons themselves are the foundation of zooarchaeological research.