The William R. Adams Zooarchaeology Laboratory at Indiana University is a research laboratory affiliated with the Anthropology Department on the Bloomington campus. Located in the lower level of the Student Building, the zooarchaeology lab is a 1,400 square foot facility that includes over 10,000 modern comparative faunal remains and also houses archaeological research projects from the North American Plains. The lab is directed by Dr. Laura Scheiber, an Associate Professor in the Anthropology department. The lab manager is archaeology graduate student Ryan Kennedy.
The zooarchaeology laboratory was established as a small scale operation in 1945 by Glenn A. Black and William R. Adams for the purpose of accumulating skeletal remains of indigenous animal species in response to ongoing excavations at the extensive prehistoric Angel Mounds Site in southwest Indiana. With funding from various sources including Eli Lilly, Paul Weir, Georg Neuman, and Carl Voegelin, the enterprise grew quickly.
Adams spent many years developing his initial collection, obtaining the first 2,500 specimens on his own. Beginning in 1947 Adams conducted preparatory work and identifications in his own basement. He was appointed to the faculty in 1955 at which time the Laboratory was transferred to the IUB campus. In 1960 the growing size of the collection necessitated a move into more spacious environs on the fourth floor of Rawles Hall. During ensuing years the Laboratory grew in collection size and through reports and identifications by the interest and help of students, faculty, and friends. In August 1991 the entire collection (along with the rest of the department) was relocated to the newly remodeled Student Building where it currently resides in Rm 025. Since this final move, emphasis has been placed on the further expansion of the collection, as well as a reassessment of curational and organizational issues presented by the vast collection, including reboxing specimens, identifications, supervision of specialized projects, and utilizing the teaching capacity of the collection.
Until 1983 the focus of collection was on North American (primarily Midwestern) vertebrates; however, through the interest and activities of faculty and staff, the collection has grown to encompass worldwide specimens of vertebrates and invertebrates whenever possible. A policy of continuous aggressive acquisition and preparation of specimens drives the need to fill gaps in the representatives of many species and the replacement of damaged specimens.
Currently, the collection contains approximately over 10,000 catalogue numbers, including 2,993 mammals, 3,634 birds, 1,884 fish, 1,390 reptiles, 229 amphibians, and an uncounted number of invertebrates. The primate skeletons are housed in the Department of Anthropology’s Human Origins and Primate Evolution Laboratory.
It is vital to the maintenance of any reference, research, or teaching collection to continually strive to expand the collection and maximize the resources it can provide in the specific area of interest. This requires the constant accession and preparation of as many species as possible with representatives of a broad range of age, sex, and individual and pathological variations within each species. Fortunately, at this time we seldom find it necessary to collect specimens from the wild, as we are able to acquire a large number from cooperating departments, other universities, research labs, government entities, hunters and fishermen, zoos, breeders, and roadkills.