What is Zooarchaeology?



Zooarchaeology is the study of the ways humans and animals interacted in the past. This can be as diverse as learning how mankind managed to hunt and kill Woolley Mammoths to when do dogs become pets? The most common questions asked in zooarchaeology are:

  • What kind of meat and how much of it people were eating?
  • Did they hunt or farm animals?
  • How else did they interact - Pets/ Gods or were humans the ones being hunted?


When an animal dies it leaves behind faunal remains - bones, shells, hide, dung, feathers, etc. It is when these remains show signs of human interaction that they become relevant to zooarchaeologists. Signs of this interaction can include their presence in archaeological contexts (bones thrown in a pit after eating), butchery marks on the bones or the burial of a pet. By studying the deposition and modification to these bones we can guage how human and animals interacted in past cultures.


Services we provide


On Site:

Our osteological staff can differentiate between animal and human remains and identify articulated burials/deposits. We can advise on best practice for excavation, sampling, recording and collection.


Analysis and reporting:

We identify the bones and observe any pathologies and modifications present; the larger the sample size, the more information on human/animal interaction we can gain. We then use this data along with information on feature type and dating to produce a zooarchaeological report. Each report is tailored to the client's needs as it has to fit into the larger site report. 



Abbey Archaeology can help if you have staff who need basic training on recognition and identification of animal bone or if you need help with osteological outreach at an event.



To arrange an osteological site visit; commission a report or request training or outreach please Contact us

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