Accessibility statement

Zooarchaeology 1: Identifying Animal Bones  


Module leader: Dr David Orton

Module overview

This module is intended for anyone who would like to be able to identify animal remains from archaeological sites - whether as training for research in zooarchaeology; or to help with sampling for specialist analyses; or simply as a useful skill in the field. We start from the basics of the mammalian skeleton but quickly progress to consider a wide range of animals, including birds, fish, and microvertebrates (e.g. amphibians and rodents) as well as the main domesticates and hunted species.

Alongside hands-on training in identification, we consider the practicalities of references resources, sampling strategies, and recording protocols.


  • To train students to identify the most common mammal, bird, and fish species found on European archaeological sites.
  • To provide students with the tools to narrow down identification of rarer species and those found elsewhere in the world.
  • To provide students with experience of handling and recording fragmentary animal remains.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of this module you should:

  • Be able to make informed identifications of a wide range of zooarchaeological specimens
  • Be familiar with the principles of identification and the range of available reference resources
  • Be familiar with approaches to recording fragmentary animal remains.