The Laboratory of Archaeozoology at Zinman Institute of Archaeology studies animal bone remains from a wide range of prehistoric and historic sites from Israel. The study of animal bones from archaeological sites serves to enhance the understanding of past environment and human life-ways and whether our ancestors relied on the hunting of wild game or on domesticated animals. Bone remains also represent the local environment around a site and contribute to our knowledge of the fauna of a particular era and our understanding of climatic and ecological changes through time.
Bone remains also represent the local environment and contribute to our knowledge about the fauna of that era and our understanding of climatic and ecological changes through time.
Archaeological assemblages of animal remains commonly contain numerous bone fragments and isolated teeth - the result either from cooking and bone processing activities or from natural disintegration processes, all of which leave typical signatures on bones.
The analysis of these signatures serves as a powerful tool for assessing the impact of both natural and cultural factors on the formation of bone assemblages in archaeological sites. Additional information retrieved from animal bone modifications include butchering mark patterning, disease presence, age at death estimates, and animal body-size ranges. Interpretations of archaeozoological data contribute significantly to the advance of archaeological, zoological, and ecological research in Israel.
The Reference Collection at the Department of Archaeology, University of Haifa. The collection maintains an expanding sample of vertebrate specimens including mammal, bird, reptile, and amphibian species from Israel. Domestic species are well represented and include a variety of specimens of both sexes and different ages. We already hold more than 150 specimens, including articulated skeletons of different animals. The reference collection is used for archaeological and zoological research and aims to serve a wide array of educational purposes for broad audiences. Among this we are currently preparing an exhibition of the large mammals of Israel to Stekelis Museum of Prehistory, Haifa.
The lab is currently involved in the following projects:
Several of the surviving large Syrian and Jordanian desert kites have been studied, but not much is known about the small Negev kites and what function they served. A recent reconnaissance survey pointed up at least a dozen small kites in the Negev, all poorly documented. The "Negev Desert Kites" project is a multi-disciplinary endeavor that seeks to shed new light on past human adaptations to arid conditions while focusing on large-scale hunting and trapping techniques. Our aim is to meticulously survey and document all the Negev kites in their topographical and geological landscape settings, using advanced 3-D models. Similarly, we will excavate three apices of the best-preserved kites, where evidence of their past function is expected to be found. Combining the results of fieldwork, microscopic analyses, radiometric dating and 3-D modeling, we expect to reconstruct past lifeways in a harsh environment where survival depended on resources that were scarce, unstable and unpredictable.