PPAG KUASA Archaeozoology 2017

I have just spent a week in Penang attending Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) archaeozoology course. (if they had an undergrad programme this is where I’d be going). There were 11 people on the course, and it is aimed at museum/heritage professionals (i.e. grown-ups).

Stayed at the USM Guest House which is the building directly opposite the PPAG (Pusat Penyelidikan Arkeologi Global) where archaeological stuff takes place.

We were given this monstrous file of handouts.

I’m never going to finish reading this
The first time I’ve attended anything with fancy crockery – feels so grown up!

17th July

Lecture 1: Diet Prasejarah

The first lecture was on the types of dietary evidence and methods used to study them, and about hunter gatherers & agriculturalists.

Practical: Ekskavasi & Dokumentasi

Learnt to use a dumpy level, set up trench lines and sketch from trenches.

Survey tool. It’s hard to hold things straight above the ground.
Trench string lines


18th July

Lecture 2: Arkeologi & Masyarakat

I wasn’t too convinced about community archaeology at first (not a people person) but this really made me think about the importance of engagement and outreach in archaeology and how this is important for heritage purposes.

Lecture 3: Analisis Anatomi & Taksonomi

This was the fun part – learning about animal parts and bone breakage patterns.

Practical: Analisis Anatomi & Taksonomi

Of course getting to look at bones and mollusc shells is the best part!


We also got to wear lab coats, which felt extremely professional.

19th July

Lecture 4:  Analisis Tafonomi

Practical: Tafonomi – identifikasi

More of the same forms to fill in from yesterday, but this time paying attention to cut/burn/gnaw/root marks. I struggle with using Munsell colour charts to match burn colours – it’s so hard when there seems to be more than one shade of scorch.

Practical: Tafonomi – aplikasi saintifik

Got to play with microscopes and SEM.

Bone under a microscope


We got to put things through a spectrometer too!

20th July

Lecture 5: Persampelan & statistik

The sheer amount of Math that there was in this traumatised me. I worry for my future now.

Field trip: Muzium Arkeologi Lembah Bujang & Sungai Batu

Lembah Bujang is an early Hindu-Buddhist site (7th to 13th centuries possibly, but I might be wrong).


Terracotta elephant




Sungai Batu was a port site also used for iron smelting. I was quite excited to see the massive pile of crucibles and tuyeres.



21st July

Lecture 6: Konservasi sampel arkeozoologi

Practical: Konservasi sampel arkeozoologi

Field trip: USM Museums

Obsidian Bukit Tengkorak (Sabah)



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