Jon Morter Anthropology Laboratory

Anthropology Laboratory Facilities

Laboratory Facilities and Research Opportunities in Archaeology, Biological Anthropology and Vertebrate Paleontology

The Anthropology program has opened a laboratory of anthropology, dedicated to our late colleague Dr. Jonathan Morter, an Old World archaeologist who epitomized the four-field approach to which our entire program is committed.

This facility combines a "teaching laboratory" (also used for research) as well as an adjoining, smaller laboratory devoted entirely to 24-hour student and faculty research. The teaching laboratory has, among other features, state-of-the-art audio-visual capabilities for live camera, "overhead," slide, CD ROM, and video images. It also has the ability to project images of computer screens for student instruction in the use of computers for analysis and accessing information from, for example, the Internet, the Human Relations Area Files or use of statistical packages.

The laboratory is used as a "smart" classroom and for teaching and research in anthropology. In terms of archaeology and biological anthropology, the facilities include a number of attractive features for research and teaching. Facilities for professional storage and curation of artifacts, skeletal and cast collections are first rate. Among these resources of interest are:

  1. A fossil cast collection including specimens of Eocene, Oligocene and Miocene primates and other fossil mammals. There is also an excellent cast collection covering the entire span of human evolution, from the earliest hominids to anatomically modern Homo sapiens.
  2. The osteology collection also includes representative casts and actual specimens of recent primates and humans.
  3. We have a faunal collection of skeletal material of various mammals acquired both locally and from Texas, Kansas, Mexico, and Wyoming. These can be used as reference materials for purposes of analyzing faunal material from archaeological sites as well as for purposes of comparative anatomy in biological anthropology and vertebrate paleontology. We plan to establish a collection of bird material as well. These collections continue to grow each year as the administration supports the acquisition of new casts and additional specimens are collected during fieldwork and from processing "road kills" and other finds to obtain additional material.
  4. Lab equipment of interest includes a range of excellent microscopes for general and specialized purposes, including photographic capability in both archaeology and biological anthropology.
  5. We also have freezer storage and processing facilities for rendering carcasses into skeletal specimens for our collection.
  6. In addition, we have the facilities for making accurate casts of fossil specimens collected in the field, screening and processing matrix brought back from the field for very small fossils, fossil preparation and stabilizing of fossil specimens using various preservatives.
  7. We have facilities for cleaning, drying, storage and study of artifacts recovered from our Summer Archaeological Field School (ANTH 493) and for research in lithic microwear analysis. A regular course in archaeological laboratory methods (ANTH 300) is also taught using these facilities.

Many students interested in biological anthropology and vertebrate paleontology have also utilized the considerable resources, collections and skills available in the Biology and Geology Departments, as well as the Charleston Museum. For example, our students have participated in collecting Oligocene fossil whales locally with College of Charleston faculty and have done internships learning how to catalogue, prepare and preserve fossil specimens at the Charleston Museum. They have also made extensive use of the comparative anatomy collection in the Biology department and worked on a number of internships and independent study projects in both Biology and Geology.

Archaeology students have made extensive use of resources at the Charleston Museum, including internships cataloging and analyzing artifacts. College of Charleston faculty and archaeologists at the Charleston Museum collaborate closely on a number of courses, student projects and internships. Thus there are opportunities for students to study archaeology through fieldwork, laboratory analysis, academic and museum experiences. Our resources provide students an opportunity for broad, professional experiences in archaeology. Many of our students go on to graduate school or obtain employment in private and public sector Cultural Resource Managment ("contract archaeology") occupations immediately after graduation.

Laboratory faculty:
Maureen Hays