The Future of Zooarchaeological Collections in Twenty First-Century Scholarship

Author(s): Laura Scheiber

Year: 2015


Zooarchaeological research is nearly impossible without comprehensive comparative collections that aid in the identification and analysis of archaeofauna. Throughout her career, Diane Gifford Gonzalez has been a strong proponent of developing and maintaining comparative research collections of modern and ancient vertebrate specimens. In this paper, I discuss the current state of zooarchaeological collections in twenty-first century scholarship. I highlight the William R. Adams Zooarchaeological Laboratory at Indiana University, which contains over 10,000 modern specimens from all over the world. The lab recently completed a massive overhaul of its curation facilities, with the help of a large award for capital improvements from the National Science Foundation. The investment in comparative collections by the National Science Foundation demonstrates the fundamental importance of these resources. Quality comparative collections are the foundation of zooarchaeological research, and the quality of the research is directly limited by the quality of the comparative resources available. Efforts have now turned to three-dimensional scanning of the comparative collection in order to help overcome a major hurdle in zooarchaeological research: bringing irreplaceable research collections and comparative collections together from disparate geographic locations. I will also discuss digitization results within the context of broader anthropological and ecological research goals.

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The Future of Zooarchaeological Collections in Twenty First-Century Scholarship. Laura Scheiber. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395781)