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Zooarchaeological Research

What is zooarchaeology?

Zooarchaeology is the systematic study of animal remains recovered from archaeological sites, with the goal of understanding past human life, in historic and prehistoric times. The breadth of the field covers many topics not limited to environmental reconstruction, assessment of subsistence strategies, foodways, animal domestication, and the ritual use of animals in the past. The dynamic nature of the field and its ability to help explain human and animal interactions often brings zooarchaeologists and wildlife managers together in order to provide accurate interpretations for modern conservation practices. Additionally, the field is valuable to law enforcement when human and non-human remains are discovered in comingled contexts.


Dr. Anneke Janzen, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology

I curate the vertebrate osteology collections and direct the zooarchaeology laboratory. Please reach out to me if you are interested in volunteering or would like to use our collections for research.


Brigid Ogden, PhD Student

Taylor Bowden, PhD student

The Vertebrate Osteology Collection

The Vertebrate Osteology Collection at the University of Tennessee includes over 12,000 vertebrate specimens and is one of the largest of its kind in eastern North America. It was established in the early 1970s through the efforts of Paul Parmalee and Walter E. Klippel. The collection has proven invaluable for both research and public service, and is utilized extensively in several courses offered through the Department of Anthropology.

If you are interested in utilizing the collection for research purposes, please contact Anneke Janzen (

Get InVOLved

The zooarchaeology lab is always looking for great volunteers! If you are an undergraduate or graduate student who is interesting in getting involved with a research project or simply want to get your hands dirty in the lab and learn more about zooarchaeology, please contact Anneke Janzen Some of our current projects include: collections maintenance, weighing artifacts, and sorting faunal remains from Cheek Bend Cave in Middle Tennessee.

Congratulations Dr. Klippel!

Walter Klippel examining faunal bones in the zooarchaeology lab.

Walter Klippel has recently retired after over forty years of service to the University of Tennessee and the field of zooarchaeology. Over his career, Klippel has made scholarly contributions to the studies of taphonomy, environmental change in the Southeastern United States, and subsistence practices in North America, the Caribbean Islands, and Crete. He began his career working in rock shelters in Missouri, and went on to run large field projects in Middle Tennessee and to create a world-class zooarchaeological comparative collection. Former and current students and colleagues cover a broad range of topics inspired by Klippel’s interests in zooarchaeology and archaeology, including animal induced taphonomy, subsistence practices, morphological and range changes in species over time, species identifications, and allometry.

Recent publications made possible by use of the collection:

2013   Carmody, Lydia. The Vertebrate Fauna of Zebree’s Big Lake Phase. Master’s thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

2013   Dennison, Meagan Elizabeth. Faunal Analysis of Sachsen Cave Shelter: A Zooarchaeological Approach to Site Function. Master’s thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

2012   Hatch, Brad. Venison Trade and Interaction between English Colonists and Native Americans in Virginia’s Potomac River Valley. Northeast Historical Archaeology 41:18-49.

2015   Hatch, Brad. An Historical Archaeology of Early Modern Manhood in the Potomac River Valley of Virginia, 1645-1730. PhD Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

2007   Klippel, Walter E. and Jennifer A. Synstelien. Rodents as Taphonomic Agents: Bone Gnawing by Brown Rats and Gray Squirrels. Journal of Forensic Sciences 52(4):765-773.

2011   Klippel, Walter E., Jennifer A. Synstelien, and Barbara J. Heath. Taphonomy and Fish Bones From an Enslaved African American Context at Poplar Forest, Virginia, USA. Archaeofauna 20:27-45.

2013   Lamzik, Kathryn Elizabeth. “It all began, like so many things, with an egg,” An Analysis of the Avian Fauna and Eggshell Assemblage From a 19th Century Enslaved African American Subfloor Pit, Poplar Forest, Virginia. Master’s thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

2017   Randall, Connie Marie. Faunal Remains as a Potential Indicator of Ritual Behavior: Griffin Rockshelter. Master’s thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

2011   Ramsey, Ann Marie. Comparative Analysis of the Faunal Remains from British Royal Engineer and Enslaved African Occupations at Brimstone Hill Fortress, St. Kitts, West Indies. Master’s thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

2015   Synstelien, Jennifer Ann. Studies in taphonomy: bone and soft tissue modifications by postmortem scavengers. PhD dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.