Archaeology/Hard Tissue Laboratory
The Archaeology Laboratory in Lisner Hall, located about one block from the department office, supports a variety of research related to archaeology: Analysis of stone tools, skeletal remains, dental microwear, fossil starch grains, and other bodies of evidence. Students use the lab for archaeology projects and for the preparation and study of osteological specimens.
The lab houses the Hard Tissue Research Laboratory of Prof. Shannon McFarlin. She studies the microanatomy of bones and teeth. Since bones and teeth form the basis of the hominid fossil record, understanding the anatomy, development, and function of these tissues is critical for interpreting the life events, behavior, and environments of early human ancestors. For more on McFarlin's research, visit her laboratory website.
Other features of the lab:
- Human and ape skeletal material, including articulated human and chimpanzee skeletons
- The Mountain Gorilla Skeletal Project collection catalog
- A large collection of fossil casts, especially of hominids
- Buehler Isomet 1000 precision saw, Buehler Ecomet 4000 grinding/polishing machine, and other equipment necessary for the histological preparation of hard tissue thin sections
- Microscopy resources including an Olympus SZX12 stereomicroscope, Zeiss Axio Imager microscope configured for circularly polarized light and fluorescence imaging, integrated MBF Bioscience Stereo Investigator software for stereology, and an Olympus BX50 confocal laser microscope
- Gas chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography equipment that can be used, for example, to date ostrich eggshells from the Pleistocene excavated by Prof. Alison Brooks. These shells are common in prehistoric sites and are useful for dating them
- Ceramic specimens from Morocco excavated by Prof. Nancy Benco
The facility was built for the Anthropology Department in 1996-97, replacing the dark and leaky "Bone Lab" that occupied a former Fire Department hayloft. A grant of about $360,000 from the National Science Foundation made the construction possible.
The Archaeology Laboratory aboratory is located at Lisner Hall 130, 2023 G Street, NW, and can be reached at (202) 994-4510.
Left: Teaching assistant and human skeleton. Right: Photograph and X-ray image of an erupting first permanent molar in the lower jaw of a mountain gorilla.