Zooarchaeology is the interdisciplinary subfield of archaeology which centers around the identification and interpretation of animal remains from archaeological sites. These remains, most commonly fragmented pieces of bone, can be used to reconstruct past environments, understand paleoecological relationships, or study how prehistoric people used native animals.
The Department of Anthropology laboratory complex includes a Zooarchaeology Lab directed by Dr. Frank Bayham. The lab contains one of the best terrestrial or interior California collections of vertebrate fauna skeletal specimens with individual specimens numbering in the thousands. Arrangements can be made to use the collections.
Zooarchaeology and Field Ecology
The interdisciplinary nature of zooarchaeology poses certain intractable difficulties for adequate instruction and learning. Anthropology graduate students with a primary interest in human behavior are often deficient in their basic knowledge of animal ecology and life history strategies. To overcome this problem the zooarchaeology and field ecology course was developed to introduce students to zooarchaeological identification techniques and field ecology in the congenial atmosphere of the Eagle Lake Biological Field Station.
The Eagle Lake Biological Field Station is situated on the shore of scenic Eagle Lake, located in the relatively undeveloped and undisturbed northeastern tip of California. The remnant of a much larger Pleistocene lake, Eagle Lake sits at the junction of four major geologic provinces: bordered on the west by the forested slopes of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades, on the east by the arid Great Basin, and on the north and the east by volcanic Modoc Plateau. This area offers a unique set of biological communities, including a rich vertebrate fauna. The Eagle Lake Biological Field Station includes student dormitories, dining hall, library, and a five-room laboratory.
The Stanley J. Olsen Eagle Lake Zooarchaeology Conference
In recent years the emphasis in zooarchaeology in the Department of Anthropology has shifted from the zooarchaeology and field ecology course to the Stanley J. Olsen Eagle Lake Zooarchaeology Conference (link). This conference attracts zooarchaeologists, faunal analysts, and students who appreciate the opportunity to share recent research and engage in informal discussions of zooarchaeology in the remote and quiet setting of the Eagle Lake Biological Field Station.