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Archaeozoological Lab reorganised and renewed: 'We can now study most of the fauna in Europe'

The Laboratory for Archaeozoological Studies underwent a big reorganization and received a great donation from the Institute of Biology this summer. Laura Llorente Rodriguez explains the impact of this donation and reorganisation in this interview.

Part of the donated collection

The Leiden Faculty of Archaeology is known for its excellent reference collection, what does the new collection add to this?
‘I am very happy with the donation; it makes our collection more diverse. We received a wide arrange of (new) species, lots of mammals, birds, fish, ducks, bird eggs, and also crocodiles. Especially the addition of small carnivores is great, as we have very few specimens before. The new collection expands the research we can do; we have new reference material from more taxa to be used for anatomical and biomolecular studies, we can better study the morphology of animals in the past, their evolution and carry out, population analysis. We are now even better prepared and can study most of the fauna in Europe.’

How can this reorganization and new collection benefit the students?
‘With the way the bones are now organized in the lab, it will be much easier for the students to compare the same bones of different species. For students and visiting archaeozoologists doing research, it will also be faster to find the right reference specimen. When it comes to the new material, it contributes a great deal to teaching zoology. We can give even better hands-on experience, and for example, for dog, pig, and sheep we now have enough material to do good research on morphotypes and provide each student with bones for the practical classes. All the new material must also be logged into a database, this gives opportunities for students to participate in internships where they can help catalogue the new specimens.’

Bones organized by type and labelled per species

How did you experience working in the lab during corona, does it affect the practical lessons?
‘Corona has a big impact on the practical sessions. For the bioarchaeology course, we had to split the class into groups of around 16 students spread out over the zoology and osteology labs. We make sure to sanitize the labs and that students wear masks and gloves. Every student gets their own box with bone material to work with during the sessions. The new collection could not have come at a better time, because now almost every student has their own set that they can work with.’ 

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