by Bernard K. Means, Director
As Thanksgiving approaches, I thought I’d reflect briefly on our digital zooarchaeology efforts in the Virtual Curation Laboratory. Most of these efforts involve a cooperative relationship with Dr. Elizabeth Moore, who is Curator of Archaeology at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Dr. Moore has helped us with identifications of worked animal bones that we have scanned, using printed replicas, has opened her collections of worked and nonworked animal bones from archaeological sites to our broader research aims, and has provided us with bones from her actual type collection as we work to create a virtual type collection of animal bone remains.
As part of a recently funded project by the Department of Defense’s Legacy Program, we in the Virtual Curation Laboratory are working to develop an online digital animal bone type collection that researchers and students can access for identifying animal bone remains–and even print their own replica type collections. This is effort is currently being led by Mariana Zechini, a Virginia Commonwealth University student, and the Digital Zooarchaeologist in the Virtual Curation Laboratory.
One of the worked animal bones that we have identified with Dr. Moore’s help is this bone bead blank from the Martin site, a Monongahela tradition village site dating to the 1400s and excavated as a salvage project in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, in 1941. This bone bead blank was made from the right radius of a turkey.
And, as part of our efforts to build a digital zooarchaeological collection, I thought I would leave you with this digital model of a turkey femur. After tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday, I know that our collection of turkey bones will expand considerably in the Virtual Curation Laboratory. True, these will be domesticated turkey bones, but eventually we plan to add wild turkey bones as well.