Cambridge schoolchildren sample zooarchaeology at Peabody Museum

January 24, 2013 at 10:13 am

Cambridge elementary school students spent part of last Thursday, Jan. 17 working with bones and surrounded by skeletons of fish, birds, and mammals in the Zooarchaeology Laboratory in Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

The lab, on the Peabody’s third floor, specializes in identifying bones from archaeological dig sites, which can tell researchers not just what animals were present, but also provide clues about the broader environment and how humans might have used an area.

Though the lab is normally busy with Harvard students and researchers, it opens its doors each winter break to Cambridge schoolchildren, this year hosting 125 children from three schools, according to Polly Hubbard, the Peabody education program manager. It also opens to the public each Columbus Day.

“The museum has a wonderful opportunity to open the lab to [give] a special behind-the-scenes look at Harvard’s resources, both its material resources and its human resources,” Hubbard said.

On Thursday, third graders from Cambridge’s Haggerty School filled the lab. Small groups of students moved among five stations set up around the large table that dominated the room, each stop highlighting an important aspect of zooarchaeology.

Read more about the students' field trip and experience in the Harvard Gazette.