Zooarchaeology and Field Ecology

Location: Eagle Lake, California, United States

June 18, 2016 to July 10, 2016

Application Deadline: 
Monday, May 9, 2016

Deadline Type: 
Contact for details

Flyer: PDF icon eagle_lake_flyer_2016.pdf

Program Type

Field school



University of Utah

Project Director:

Jack M. Broughton

Project Description


Questions involving past human foraging behavior, paleoecology, and paleoclimate can be addressed through the identification and analysis of archaeological vertebrate remains. These aspects of zooarchaeology serve as the main goals of this novel, hands-on, laboratory- and field-based course. Unlike any other archaeological field experience, students will gain expertise in the identification of fragmentary vertebrate remains from archaeological contexts in the western U.S. and at the same time be immersed in the natural history and ecology of local vertebrate animals in a remote and scenic setting. Topics that will be covered include foraging theory, prey choice, the nature of the archaeofaunal record, units of quantification, taphonomy, ecological concepts and theory, vertebrate taxonomy and natural history, and skeletal preparation. Additional experience in archaeological vertebrate identification and analysis will be gained through the completion of a problem-oriented research project based on the analysis of one of several provided archaeofaunal assemblages from sites in western North America. The research project will be presented at 11th Annual Stanley J. Olsen Eagle Lake Zooarchaeological Conference held at the end of the course. 

Period(s) of Occupation: Historic/Holocene/Pleistocene

This unique field and laboratory course trains students in zooarchaeology: the identification and analysis of animal remains from archaeological sites. Held at the remote and scenic Eagle Lake Field Station, students are also immersed in the natural history and ecology of local vertebrate animals. Students complete a problem-oriented research project based on the analysis of one of several provided archaeofaunal assemblages. Results of the research project will be presented at a professional zooarchaeological conference held at the end of the course. University of Utah; six semester credit hours.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Experience required: 
No previous field experience or background in zooarchaeology is required and we welcome a wide range of academic backgrounds.Previous coursework in archaeology or related fields is recommended but not essential.

Room and Board Arrangements

This course will take place at the Eagle Lake Field Station, a relatively isolated facility located in the scenic and relatively undeveloped northeastern corner of California. The remnant of a much larger Pleistocene lake, Eagle Lake sits at the junction of four major geologic provinces: bordered on the west by the forested slopes of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades, on the east by the arid Great Basin, and on the north and east by the volcanic Modoc Plateau. This region offers a unique set of biological communities, including a rich vertebrate fauna. The Eagle Lake Field Station now operates independently and includes dormitory style accommodations, a dining hall, a small library with internet access, and conference room as well as other amenities to enhance recreational use.

Breakfast  Lunch, and Dinner will be provided at the Field Station and are included in the course fee. Please let us know when you apply for this program if you have special dietary needs, as well as any medical or physical conditions. We will advise you accordingly.

$737 per week (approximate course fee)

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
University of Utah
Number of credits offered 6 semester credit hours
$1991.88 (approximate)


Contact Information
Jack M. Broughton
270 S 1400 E Room 102, University of Utah
Salt Lake City
Recommended Bibliography: 

Lyman, R. Lee (2008). Quantitative Paleozoology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York.

Reitz, E.J. and E.S. Wing. (2008). Zooarchaeology, second edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York.