Accessibility statement

Interpreting Animal Remains


Module leader: David Orton


  • To demonstrate the potential contribution of zooarchaeology, in the broadest sense, to understanding past human societies in a wide range of contexts.
  • To provide students with a knowledge-base of case studies in zooarchaeological interpretation, covering the Palaeolithic to the present day and spanning much of the world.
  • To enable and encourage students to read published interpretations of animal remains with a critical eye.
  • To provide students with the necessary knowledge and confidence to recommend appropriate analytical approaches to specific animal bone assemblages.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students should:

  • Be familiar with the interpretation of zooarchaeological data (including biomolecular data) in a wide range of contexts and using a range of approaches.
  • Be aware of the strengths and limitations of those approaches.
  • Understand the contribution of animal remains to various key issues in archaeology and beyond.
  • Be able critically to evaluate published zooarchaeological studies, including those based on biomolecular techniques.
  • Be able to assess the potential of zooarchaeological assemblages or datasets for future research, and recommend appropriate approaches.


Chariot burial at Karanovo, Bulgaria (photo: D. Orton)