Faunal analysis, or zooarchaeology, is an important subfield that provides information on human ecology, economy, culture, and society. Few of my students have much experience with hunting, farming, anatomy, or even eating meat these days, so faunal analysis labs in an Archaeological Field Methods class present some difficulties.
Faunal assemblages from archaeological sites are often small, fragile, and too valuable for class use. They require good comparative collections, and it may be difficult for students to relate to unfamiliar animals and cultures.
These problems can be overcome by producing a faunal teaching assemblage from home meat consumption. For over 20 years I have composted all organics from my kitchen, and subsequently collected bone from my garden. A useful assemblage can be created in a much shorter time if the bones are prepared by maceration instead of composting. With simple instructional materials, the students can recognize the bones, collect the data, and perform simple quantification like MNI and NISP. The assemblage is then interpretable in terms of most of the issues approached by contemporary faunal analyses, such as preparation techniques, meat preferences, formation processes, and socio-economic status. My classes always find it engaging to analyze their professor’s garbage and use it to interpret his life.
Whittaker, John C.
2018 Teaching Bones from my Garden. Journal of Archaeology and Education 2
Available at: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/jae/vol2/iss1/1