• Class Number 7594
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Philip Piper
    • Prof Philip Piper
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/07/2023
  • Class End Date 27/10/2023
  • Census Date 31/08/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 31/07/2023
SELT Survey Results

This course equips biological anthropology and archaeology students with fundamental skills for the analysis of vertebrate remains in archaeological sites. Through weekly lectures, the course covers theory and practical skills for the identification of those vertebrates most commonly found in archaeological sites, including wild and domestic species of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. The course also addresses the study of changes resulting from human-animal interactions, as well as the taphonomic aspects comprising the preservation and recovering of zooarchaeological assemblages. The practical part of the course focuses on the identification of teeth and bones of wild and domestic animals, including the development of the skills to generate zooarchaeological reports in a professional manner.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. discuss the different theories proposed in the study of vertebrate remains;
  2. recognise and identify (giving reasons) skeletal elements;
  3. demonstrate an ability to transfer their skills to a practical context;
  4. analyse vertebrate remains both to differentiate the taxa concerned, and to place them in an overall biological context;
  5. generate primary and secondary data for the analysis of zooarchaeological assemblages; and
  6. write a scientific report based on zooarchaeological material.

Research-Led Teaching

This course has a strong independent research component. Students will be expected to study their own vertebrate zooarchaeological collections and provide interpretations of data. The focus is strongly on practical learning and interpretive thinking which will take place during the week-long laboratory intensive from the 11th - 15th September 2023.

Filios, M. and Blake, N. 2006. Animal bones in Australian Archaeology, Sydney: University of Sydney

O’Connor, T. 2000., The Archaeology of Animal Bones, Stroud: Sutton Publishing.

Gifford-Gonzalez, D. 2018. An Introduction to Zooarchaeology, Cham: Springer.

Von den Dreisch, A. 1976, A Guide to the Measurement of Animal Bones from Archaeological Sites, Peabody Museum Bulletin 1, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

Reitz, E.J. and Wing, E.S. (2nd Ed.), Zooarchaeology, Cambridge: Cambridge Manuals in Archaeology.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

written comments

verbal comments will be provided with feedback for the bone assessment and for any other assessment on request

  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction and course contents and structure See Assessments
2 Evolution and taxonomy See Assessments
3 Basic biology and anatomy See Assessments
4 Process of animal domestication See Assessments
5 Environmental reconstruction See Assessments
6 Assessing sex, age and size See Assessments
7 Basics in taphonomy See Assessments
8 Quantitative units: skeletal representation and differential preservation See Assessments
9 Abiotic vs. human vs. non-human accumulations (1) See Assessments
10 Abiotic vs. human vs. non-human accumulations (2) See Assessments
11 Data analysis and interpretations See Assessments
12 What is there to eat? Overview of the topic See Assessments

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Literature-based Methodological Design 20 % 08/09/2023 13/10/2023 1
Vertebrate identification practical quizz 30 % * * 2,3,5
Recording zooarchaeological data 20 % 13/10/2023 10/11/2023 2,3,4,5
Scientific research Report 30 % 27/10/2023 10/11/2023 1,5,6

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


All students are expected to attend the practical intensive from the 11th - 15th September 2023 in laboratory Rm223, Banks Bldg#44

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 08/09/2023
Return of Assessment: 13/10/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1

Literature-based Methodological Design

This task requires a combination of literature review and methods design. The focus of the assessment is that students will review relevant literature and design their own methodology for analysing bone assemblages. You are required to provide a research question, discussion of the potential outcomes of the analysis, and to explain the material and the method design to address your research question.

The methodology should be designed around the following question:

What methodological techniques would you apply to assess a large terrestrial vertebrate assemblage that potentially contains both wild and domestic animals?

Basic background information will be provided in lectures and several references will be uploaded to Wattle to assist, but students are encouraged to use independent references

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,5

Vertebrate identification practical quizz

Four 30-minute to 1 hr practical assessments during the 1-week intensive where students will demonstrate their understanding of skeletal anatomy, taxonomic identification and aging of skeletal and dental elements, and taphonomic identification.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 13/10/2023
Return of Assessment: 10/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,4,5

Recording zooarchaeological data

This practical assessment is designed to assess the student’s ability to record primary and secondary data from an archaeofaunal assemblage. This includes recording taxonomic identifications to skeletal element, quantification for assessment of relative abundance, assessment of age and sex, and observations of bone modifications. Student will create an excel database where they will record the zooarchaeological data. The students will be expected to produce graphic visual data results. The details to be included in the database will be explained and discussed with the lecturer during the practical week.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 27/10/2023
Return of Assessment: 10/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,5,6

Scientific research Report

This 2000-word research report is designed to assess the student’s ability to interpret zooarchaeological data to inform on archaeological questions. This project will use the data collected by all the students in class, and compiled by the end of Assessment 3, to investigate changes in subsistence and cultural practices, palaeoenvironments, and taphonomic processes at an archaeological site.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Every effort will be made to return assignments and provide feedback as soon as possible after completion.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Philip Piper

Research Interests

Southeast Asian Prehistory, Human economic strategies and technological adaptation, Palaeoecology, Zooarchaeology

Prof Philip Piper

Tuesday 09:00 12:00
Tuesday 09:00 12:00
Prof Philip Piper

Research Interests

Prof Philip Piper

Tuesday 09:00 12:00
Tuesday 09:00 12:00

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