Archaeology and Biological Anthropology Labs

Sofia Coco Vermeulen

Ceramic Analysis Lab

PI: Judith Habicht-Mauche

instructor and student look at test tubesClay and ceramic materials from around the world are classified and analyzed at the Ceramic Analysis Research Lab and the Lithic & Ceramic Teaching Lab. The lab investigates the special properties of clay bearing soils, clays and fired ceramic materials. The significance of these materials within an archaeological or cultural framework is considered. Specialized equipment includes stereomicroscopes, petrographic microscopes, thin sectioning equipment, a large, programmable studio kiln, drying oven, custom metrical tools and a variety of hand-building and clay manipulation tools. This is also an official USDA Soils Lab.

Human Paleogenomics Lab

PI: Lars Fehren-Schmitz

logo including human and animals with gene strand overlay

The UCSC Human Paleogenomics Lab is a subsection of the UCSC Paleogenomics Labs and is also part of the UCSC Genomics Institute. The UCSC Human Paleogenomics Lab looks at the twin forces of culture and biology in shaping human genomic diversity, demography and health. This lab is especially interested in the anthropocene period of the last 10,000 years or so, examining how modern-day humans’ genetic variability has arisen from niche construction and the co-evolution of genes and culture.

Laboratory for the Study of California Pasts

PI: Tsim Schneider

lab space with desks, samples in bagsThe Laboratory for the Study of California Pasts (California Pasts Lab) facilitates student and faculty research investigating the prehistory and history of California, with special emphasis on collaborative and community-based scholarship addressing Indigenous-colonial encounters in Central California. Current research associated with the lab includes the study of San Francisco Bay shellmounds, an archaeological and historical study of Indigenous laborers at a mid-century trading post at Tomales Bay, and the re-analysis of archaeological materials previously collected from Mission Santa Cruz.

Primate Ecology and Molecular Anthropology Lab

PI: Vicky M. Oelze

lab with equipment

The research focus of this lab is twofold: First, the ecology of African great apes and their habitats; second, the subsistence strategies and movements of prehistoric human populations. The lab primarily uses minimal or non-invasive molecular tools to reconstruct diets and mobility in these human and non-human primates. Direct observations and remote sensing are also used to study primate behavior in the wild, along with tree climbing for arboreal sample collection. The lab is primarily set up for sample processing and preparation for isotope analyses, but also has space for other wet-chemical applications and microscopy.

Spatial Archaeology Lab

PI: Cameron Monroe

The Spatial Analysis Laboratory provides state of the art research facilities for exploring spatial patterns across cultural landscapes at multiple scales of analysis. The facility boasts advanced laboratory and field research equipment, including six GIS workstations and peripherals, as well as a full complement of spatial technologies used in field survey (total station, Trimble GPS base station, and Trimble GPS handheld field computers), as well as 3D scanning for digital artifact analysis. Projects are designed to collect, analyze, and interpret spatial data from a broad range of cultural landscapes past and present.


Cultural Heritage Lab

PI: Jon Daehnke

The Cultural Heritage laboratory was established to help facilitate and promote projects that revolve around the preservation and stewardship of cultural heritage, with a special focus on community-based collaborative work. The goal of the lab is to provide a center for hands-on training in all aspects of heritage stewardship, from initial background research and the development of collaborative partnerships, to the completion of research reports and public/educational materials. Participants have access to field equipment and computer resources that will assist them in their stewardship work.

Zooarchaeology and Comparative Osteology Laboratory

PI: Diane Gifford-Gonzalez

The Zooarchaeology Lab sustains faculty and graduate research projects on a number of topics connected with human – animal interactions in central coastal California and East Africa. Projects include: indigenous pyrodiversity practices in the Monterey Bay region, historical ecology of northern fur seals in the greater Monterey Bay, isotopic ecology and mobility practices of early African pastoralists in Kenya, exploration of parameters of bone grease extraction, and California archaeofaunal materials.

Please note the extremely limited availability of this lab to new projects.


Teaching Labs

Lab Manager: Richard Baldwin

Lab Director: Vicky Oelze

The teaching laboratories’ mission is to provide students with hands-on training in the technical skills of archaeology and biological anthropology. Lab courses integrate theoretical frameworks with the detailed analysis of specimens and artifacts at the core of the disciplines. From comparative anatomy and osteology to micro-artifact and ceramic analysis, the labs facilitate student understanding in an environment of safety.


students work with bones in an osteology lab

  • Osteology Teaching Lab
    This large teaching lab space is home to many biological anthropology courses including human skeletal biology and forensic anthropology. A diverse collection of comparative models and real skeletal elements are available for study. Students also participate in preserving, organizing and 3D scanning the teaching collections so that they are available for future use.

fume hood in anatomy lab

  • Adrienne Zihlman Physical Anthropology lab (Anatomy lab)
    This specialized lab space was designed as a safe environment for the exploration of human anatomy. It is the demonstration lab space for the human anatomy course offered each year. A number of projects also use this space to add specimens to the comparative osteology collection and in support of various research activities. A specialized feature of the lab is the down-draft table which allows for preserved anatomical materials to be studied without exposing students to chemical vapors.



  • Ceramics and Lithics Teaching Lab
    This space is used to support our hands-on lab courses in archaeological materials analysis. We have comparative collections of historic material types, rocks and minerals, clay types and ceramic vessels. This lab stores our collection of microscopes and a wide diversity of other measuring and analytical tools such as thermometers, timers and data loggers.