Zooarchaeology Short Courses

Sheffield has a long history of zooarchaeology teaching and research, and today it is home to one of the largest and most active zooarchaeology research teams in the world. Our members work throughout the UK and Europe as well as contributing to projects in America, Asia and Africa, and have research interests that span the period from the Palaeolithic to the recent past.

Statistics with R: beginners

13th-15th June 2016
Cost: £150/£30 (students, retired, unemployed)
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Understanding Zooarchaeology I and Human and Animal remains: a comparative approach

Understanding Zooarchaeology I

Human and animal remains

Understanding Zooarchaeology I & Human and animal remains

12th-14th September 2016
Cost: £180/£120 (students, retired, unemployed)
15th - 16th September 2016
Cost: £180/£120 (students, retired, unemployed)
12th-16th September 2016
Cost: £330/£220 (students, retired, unemployed)
Online shop now open! Online shop now open! Online shop now open!

Statistics with R: beginners

This is a hands-on course for students and researchers in Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities with little or no previous experience in R and statistics. The course will cover how to handle R, how to compute some basic statistical tests (Chi square, Student Test / Mann-U Test) and how to interpret the result accurately. A diversity of graphs (histograms, box plots and scatter plots) will be explained and made easy to create. Examples will use data from Humanities and Social Sciences, and participants will be offered to practise using their own data. A laptop or tablet supporting R is required to participate in the course. Instructions to install R in advance will be given by email after registration.

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Graph Densities

Understanding Zooarchaeology I

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This course, which is now being run for the eleventh time since January 2011, aims to provide an understanding of the basic theory and methods which zooarchaeologists use to understand animal bone evidence. The course will include lectures, discussion and hands on practical classes. Participants will begin to develop the skills necessary to:

  • Understand the principles of excavating animal bones.
  • Care for and store bones after excavation.
  • Identify different species from their bones and teeth.
  • Age and sex bones.
  • Recognize taphonomy, butchery and pathology.
  • Understand how zooarchaeological material is analysed and quantified.
  • Interpret site reports and zooarchaeological literature.

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There will be ample opportunity during the course to ask questions and discuss the issues raised during each day. However, if you have a particular area of interest that you would like us to cover in more detail, please let us know when you register for the course.

Day 1

Animal remains treatment
(excavation, washing, marking and storage)
Management of a reference collection
(tour of the reference collection)
What can body parts tell us?
(exploring taphonomic evidence, recovery methods and meat utility)
Identifying animals
(nomenclature and taxonomic identification of bones)
Identifying birds
(identification and analysis of bird remains from an archaeological assemblage)

Day 2

Age at death
(recording of tooth eruption and wear)
Age at death
(recording of the stages of epiphyseal fusion)
Identifying fish, amphibians and reptiles
(identification and analysis of fish remains from an archaeological assemblage)
Pleistocene mammals
(overview of the main species that lived on Earth during the Pleistocene)

Day 3

Biometrical analysis
(biometry and its potential in archaeology)
Isotopes and Genetics
(overview of isotopic and biomolecular analysis that can be applied to an archaeological assemblage)
Counting and recording
(explanation of the most used quantification methods in zooarchaeology, with practical work)
Bone Modification and pathology
(the recording of human and naturally induced modification on bones)
Bone quiz

All sessions will include explanations and demonstrations, but also practical work on the material.

Many people have enjoyed the Zooarchaeology Short Course, including Andrew Lawson who is a Trainee Biological Curator at Manchester Museum. Find out what he thought of the course by reading his blog.

Human and Animal remains: a comparative approach.

Human and animal remains: a comparative approach is our brand new short course, run for the first time this year.


The correct identification of bone remains as belonging to human or other animals is one of the first and fundamental step in any osteoarchaeological investigation. This distinction, often far from being obvious, has to be supported by a good knowledge of both human osteology and zooarchaeology. These two disciplines rely on different approaches and methods, but there are also areas of overlap.

This course will focus on a comparison between human and other animal bones from archaeological context. By using both macroscopic and microscopic analyses, along with an insight into biomolecular investigations, the course will illustrate some basic tools used in distinguishing human remains from those of other animals. Different methodologies and research approaches that characterise the different disciplines of human osteoarchaeology, zooarchaeology and forensic science will be discussed.

The Human and Animal remains short course is directed to students, professionals and enthusiasts of bioarchaeology and forensic sciences and does not require any previous knowledge of the disciplines.

Day 1

Evolutionary differences between humans and other animals
(how different ways of locomotion and diverse diets can change a skeleton)
Comparative anatomy
(distinguishing human and other animal remains)
What is taphonomy?
(the recording of human and other induced modification on bones)
Excavation, post-excavation and storage
(difference and similarities in excavation, post-excavation activities and storage of the remains)

Day 2

Human osteoarchaeology vs. Zooarchaeology
(comparison between the two disciplines from the point of view of the object of study, the prospective analysis and results)
Approaching a mixed assemblage
(hands on exercise including the study of a mixed assemblage)
Microscopic and Biomolecular techniques
(introduction to the most commonly used methods of analysis for distinguishing human and animal remains)
Isotopic analyses
(Introduction to stable isotope analysis of human and animal remains)

All sessions will include explanations and demonstrations, but also practical work on the material.



Registration for the September courses will open soon! Please book your place through our online shop:

12th-14th September 2016 - Understanding Zooarchaeology I: Online shop now open!

15th - 16th September 2016 – Human and animal remains: a comparative approach: Online shop now open!

12th-16th September 2016 - Understanding Zooarchaeology I & Human and animal remains: a comparative approach - Online shop now open!

For any queries please contact us at: zooarch-shortcourse@sheffield.ac.uk

Cancellations and refunds

Refund requests should be made by email to zooarch-shortcourse@sheffield.ac.uk, no less than 7 days before the start of the course. We will endeavour to fill the course place, and in the event that a replacement is found a full refund will be made. If a replacement cannot be found a refund of 50% of the course fee will be made for cancellations made more than 7 days before the start of the course. No refund will be made for cancellations made less than 7 days before the course start date. At the discretion of the course organisers, and in exceptional circumstances, participants that are unable to attend can defer their enrolment until the next Zooarchaeology short course.
If you are experiencing any difficulty please contact us as early as possible.