Steps to Becoming a Zooarchaeologist: Analyzing Animal Bones

Steps to Becoming a Zooarchaeologist: Analyzing Animal Bones

Are you fascinated by ancient civilizations and the animals that lived alongside them? If so, a career as a zooarchaeologist may be the perfect fit for you. In this article, we will explore the steps necessary to become a zooarchaeologist and specialize in the analysis of animal bones. From obtaining the right education to gaining practical experience in the field, we will cover all the essential aspects of this unique and rewarding profession.

Education and Training

Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology or Archaeology

To become a zooarchaeologist, a strong foundation in anthropology or archaeology is essential. Many universities offer bachelor’s degree programs in these fields, which provide students with a comprehensive understanding of human history, culture, and societies. Courses in anthropology or archaeology cover topics such as archaeological methods, cultural anthropology, and archaeological theory.

Specialized coursework in Zooarchaeology

In addition to a bachelor’s degree in anthropology or archaeology, aspiring zooarchaeologists should also take specialized coursework in zooarchaeology. These courses focus on the study of animal remains found at archaeological sites, and teach students how to identify, analyze, and interpret animal bones. Topics covered in zooarchaeology courses may include bone identification, taphonomy, and the relationship between humans and animals in the past.

Hands-on training in bone analysis

Hands-on training in bone analysis is crucial for aspiring zooarchaeologists. This type of training allows students to gain practical experience in identifying and analyzing animal bones, and prepares them for fieldwork and laboratory work. Many universities offer opportunities for students to participate in archaeological digs or internships where they can practice their bone analysis skills under the guidance of experienced professionals.

Fieldwork Experience

Participate in archaeological excavations

One of the most important steps to becoming a zooarchaeologist is to gain hands-on experience by participating in archaeological excavations. This will allow you to learn how to properly identify, excavate, and handle animal bones in a real-world setting.

Learn field methods for bone recovery

To excel as a zooarchaeologist, it is crucial to learn field methods for bone recovery. This includes understanding how to properly excavate, clean, and preserve animal bones to ensure accurate analysis and interpretation.

Gain experience in cataloging and documenting animal remains

Another essential aspect of fieldwork experience for zooarchaeologists is gaining proficiency in cataloging and documenting animal remains. This involves accurately recording information such as species, bone element, and any signs of butchery or human modification, which is vital for conducting detailed analysis and research.

Laboratory Skills

Becoming a successful zooarchaeologist requires a strong foundation in laboratory skills. This includes learning how to properly handle and analyze animal bones to extract valuable information about past human-animal interactions.

Learn bone identification techniques

One of the key laboratory skills that a zooarchaeologist must possess is the ability to identify different types of animal bones. This includes understanding the anatomical features of various species and being able to differentiate between bones of different animals.

Practice measuring and recording bone data

In addition to bone identification, zooarchaeologists also need to be proficient in measuring and recording bone data. This involves accurately documenting the size, weight, and other physical characteristics of animal bones to create a comprehensive database for analysis.

Understand the importance of preservation and curation

Preservation and curation are essential aspects of laboratory skills for zooarchaeologists. Properly preserving animal bones ensures that they remain intact and free from deterioration, while curation involves organizing and storing bones in a systematic manner for future reference and research.


In conclusion, becoming a zooarchaeologist requires a combination of education, hands-on experience, and a passion for studying animal bones. By following the steps outlined in this article, individuals interested in this field can take the necessary steps to pursue a career in zooarchaeology. From learning about different animal species to mastering the techniques of bone analysis, aspiring zooarchaeologists have a challenging yet rewarding path ahead of them. With dedication and perseverance, anyone can embark on the journey to becoming a skilled zooarchaeologist and contribute to the fascinating field of archaeology.