I recently had the great joy of once again visiting Sheffield to catch up with old friends and to see the Steel City anew. It was strange, as it always is, to visit the city where I was once a student, where during the year I was a resident and cramming to complete the Masters in human osteology I was now just a tourist on holiday. I was able to relax and browse record stores and bookstores without the guilt of an upcoming Bone Quiz hanging in the back of my mind. One thing I hadn’t quite missed though was the hills of the city, but my love for the trams was rekindled and I managed to avoid the steepest of slopes with relative ease.
Whilst there I also managed to catch the thought-provoking film Anomalisa, direct by Charlie Kaufman, at the University of Sheffield Student Union in a night ran by the film society. The society do fantastic work screening relatively recently released films on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday night at affordable prices for the general public and student body alike. It is definitely worth checking out. I also shared pints with friends who had stayed or moved to Sheffield to pursue the great archaeological career.
It was great to catch up on the latest news from the commercial and academic spheres, to hear of the sites that my friends had dug at or to hear of the community projects they were involved in. Over a black coffee in the sweltering sun I was reminded by my good friend Lenny Salvagno that the Department of Archaeology, at the University of Sheffield, is organizing a number of new osteology short courses. The short courses are taking place in September 2016 and will be of interest to readers of this blog. So without further ado let us get to it…
Animal Remains: An Introduction to Zooarchaeology
The Understanding Zooarchaeology I short course will run for the eleventh time on the 12th to 14th September 2016, for the price of £180 or £120 (student/unwaged). Animal bones and teeth are among the most common remains found on archaeological sites, and this three-day course will provide participants with an understanding of the basic methods that zooarchaeologists use to understand animal bone evidence. The course will introduce the principles and basic topics behind the zooarchaeological analysis of skeletal animals in the archaeological record, including specific focuses on avian, amphibian, reptilian and mammalian skeletal remains.
This includes not just the recognition of these animal groups and their basic skeletal anatomy but also how the zooarchaeological analyses the remains (such as age at death indicators and the recognition of skeletal pathologies) and the methodologies used in assessing the role of animals in the past. It’ll also introduce factors that affect the remains post-burial and best practice strategies for the long-term storage of remains uncovered. The three-day course will end with sessions on skeletal metric analysis, biomolecular techniques used in zooarchaeology (such as stable isotopic analysis), quantification of the material, and finally the role of bone modification in the study of animal remains.
A Comparative Analysis: Human and Non-Human
This introductory course will be followed by a new course, entitled Human and Animal Remains: A Comparative Approach, the first time that such a course has been ran at the department. This short course runs from the 15th to 16th September 2016 for the price of £180 or £120 (student/unwaged) and will focus on a comparison of the skeletal anatomy between human and non-human animal species commonly found from archaeological contexts in northern Europe. 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 characterize the different disciplines of human osteoarchaeology, zooarchaeology and forensic science will be discussed and evaulated.
Both the three-day long Understanding Zooarchaeology I and two-day long Human and Animal Remains: A Comparative Approach short courses are aimed at students, professionals in the archaeological sector and general enthusiasts. The courses do not require any previous knowledge of the discipline and the general public are thoroughly welcome to attend. The teaching in both courses will be delivered through short lectures, hands-on practical activities and case studies. You can also attend both of the courses from the 12th to 16th September 2016 for the price of £220/£330 (student/unwaged), which means that you are able to save if you are interested in both.
Not Opposites, Complements
To study the skeletal remains of human or of animals, human or non-human, that is the choice that prospective students are often faced with in the realm of higher study in order to specialize in osteoarchaeology. Yet it is widely known that human osteology is, on a commercial archaeological level, a saturated place. The story in academia is the same. Competition is fierce for both funding and for places in programs.
But human osteology and zooarchaeology are not polar opposites and never should be. The human osteologist, bioarchaeologist, or forensic anthropologist, needs a good and solid grounding in the morphological differences and variations present in both human and non-human skeletal remains. As does the zooarchaeologist, especially when faced with commingled and multi-species contexts that can be, and often are, found within archaeological sites. It is to the advantage of the individual to be either be multi-skilled in the analysis of human and non-human skeletal remains, or to at least be au fait with what to expect with osseous material from archaeological contexts. Therefore short courses, such as those that are mentioned above, are advantageous to each participant and to the archaeological sector as a whole.
- For further information visit the University of Sheffield Department of Archaeology website which includes a full breakdown of the topics discussed during the three-day courses. You can contact also contact the specific team who’ll run the short courses at zooarch-shortcourse at sheffield.ac.uk. Finally, those who are active on social media, you can check out the Facebook University of Sheffield Zooarchaeology group here for all of the latest updates.
- As always I am more than happy to advertise any upcoming human osteological and zooarchaeological short courses in the United Kingdom on this blog. Please do leave a comment on email me (see my email address in the About page) and let me know the details of the upcoming course and I’ll add a post about it.