The University of Southampton

ARCH6110 Zooarchaeology

Module Overview

The module comprises an introduction to the comparative anatomy and evolution of the mammalian, avian and fish skeletons. This portion of the module includes learning the detailed methods of bone fragment identification. The second portion of the module comprises the integration of more methodological and theoretical/social aspects of zooarchaeological interpretation.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This module aims to deliver key skills and knowledge about the osteoarchaeology of animals.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the mammalian, avian and fish skeletons
  • animals in the past
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • observe and visually identify mammalian, avian and fish bones
  • evaluate results of zooarchaeological analyses and studies
  • critique zooarchaeological data and interpretations derived from it
  • demonstrate command of the literature and critical thinking
  • present information clearly and concisely
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • select appropriate means for recording and analysing data
  • write detailed reports (suitable for publication)
  • undertake oral presentations
  • lead seminars and discussion groups
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • identify skeletal elements of the main European domestic animals and key wild species
  • recognise the principal modifications to bone by humans and other agencies
  • integrate theoretical issues and archaeological questions with empirical zooarchaeological data
  • pose and tackle archaeological questions using zooarchaeological data


Lecture / Seminar Introduction to the mammalian skeleton / Reference skeleton collections & the mammalian skeletal body plan Properties and growth of bones (epiphyseal fusion) / Mammal limb bones I: Scapula and Pelvis, Humerus and Femur Taphonomy / Mammal limb bones II: Radius / Ulna, Tibia / Fibula, Carpals & Tarsals The uses of bone measurements / Mammal limb bones III: Metapodials and phalanges Pathology / Cranial and Axial skeleton: horn cores, antlers, skull, vertebrae & ribs Dental ageing / Teeth (identification and ageing) Bird remains / Bird remains Fish remains / Fish remains Quantification / Recording an assemblage Animal Bone reports / Recording an assemblage Social issues in zooarchaeology 1 / Recording an assemblage Social issues in zooarchaeology 2 / Recording an assemblage

Special Features

The module will provide students with the expertise to write technical reports on faunal remains. The ability to analyse and compose such reports increases the employability of students within contract archaeology as faunal specialists.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module will be taught through a mix of lectures, seminars and practicals.

Independent Study252
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Marean C. W. Kim S. Y. (1998). Mousterian Large-Mammal Remains from Kobeh Cave: Behavioral Implications for Neanderthals Early Modern Humans. Current Anthropology. ,39 , pp. 79-113.

Binford, L.R. (1981). Bones: Ancient Men and Modern Myths. 

Lyman, R.L. (1994). Vertebrate Taphonomy. 

Wilson, B.; Grigson, C. and Payne, S. (eds.) (1982). Ageing and Sexing Animal Bones from Archaeological Sites. 

Serjeantson, D. and Waldron, T. (1989). Diet and Craft in Towns. 

Lyman, R.L. (2008). Quantitative Palaeozoology. 

Clutton-Brock, C. (1999). A Natural History of Domesticated Mammals. 

O’Connor, T.P. (2000). The Archaeology of Animals Bones. 

Reitz, E.J. and Wing, E.S. (2008). Zooarchaeology.. 

O’Connor, T.P. (2003). The Analysis of Urban Animal Bone Assemblages. 

Davis, S.J.M. (1987). The Archaeology of Animals. 

Vigne J.-D., Helmer D., Peters J. (2005). Introduction: The first steps of animal domestication: New archaeozoological approaches.. The first steps of animal domestication: New archaeozoological approaches. ,0 , pp. 1-16..

Serjeantson, D (2009). Birds. 

Wheeler, A. and Jones, A.K.G. (1989). Fishes. 

Woolgar, C.M.; Serjeantson, D. and Waldron, T. (2006). Food in Medieval England. 

Ashby, S. P. (2002). The role of zooarchaeology in the interpretation of socio-economic status: a discussion with reference to medieval Europe. Archaeological Review from Cambridge. ,18 , pp. 37-59.

Helmer D. & Vigne J.-D. (2007). Was milk a “secondary product” in the Old World. Neolithisation process? Its role in the domestication of cattle, sheep goats. Anthropozoologica. ,42 , pp. 9-40..

Daróczi-Szabó L. (2004). Animal bones as indicators of kosher food refuse from 14th century AD Buda, Hungary. Behaviour behind bones: the zooarchaeology of ritual, religion, status and identity.. ,0 , pp. 252-261.

Russell, N. (2011). Social Zooarchaeology: Humans and Animals in Prehistory. 

Baker, J. and Brothwell, D. (1980). Animal Diseases in Archaeology. 

Miracle, P. and Milner, N. (eds.) (2002). Consuming Passions and Patterns of Consumption. 


Assessment Strategy

The module will be assessed through practical bone fragment quizzes, a written assignment and a portfolio. Assessment Method Practical quizzes (mainly identification exercises) Written assignment This will consist of a critical essay on a methodological, and/or historical/theoretical aspect of zooarchaeology (students to choose one from a rangeof suggested topics). Word limit: 2000 Portfolio This consists of illustrations and notes collected by the student that will represent an essential – and portable – resource, especially when working ‘in the field’. The portfolio can include digital media such as DVDs with e.g. electronic copies of key publications, PDF of digitised skeletons, etc. There is no set word limit for this assignment. The practical quizzes will take place during the module and will comprise 50% of the final grade. These test the on-going learning and identification of animal bone fragments. The written assignment comprises 40% of the module mark, and is used to assess the understanding of the main methodological and theoretical issues in the study of faunal remains. The last assignment is a portfolio, worth 10%, and assesses the understanding of the requirements and potential problems in the identification of faunal remains.


MethodPercentage contribution
Portfolio 10%
Practical quizzes 50%
Written assignment  (2000 words) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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