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The program curates over 4000 cubic feet of world class archaeobiological collections. These collections boast some of the earliest examples of domesticated plants and animals in the Old and New Worlds, as well as important archaeobiological collections from early hunter-gatherer to early urban societies around the world. We are also building on the strengths of this unparalleled collection through the targeted acquisition of new collections from other museums and from ongoing archaeological investigations in which archaeobiology researchers take an active role. In 2012, we are moving the New World archaeofaunal collections to a new larger storage space, which will allow for decompression of the collections and some new acquisitions.
The program also maintains a database of NMNH Archaeobiology Collections (PDF, Excel, Abbreviations), which helps us promote awareness of and use of these collections by a global community of researchers.
For a recent inventory of our archaeofaunal collections, please click here.
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) houses superb faunal and botanical reference collections, including:
- A large microscope slide collection with phytoliths from numerous
species of modern plants from the Neotropics, and phytoliths from lake sediment cores and archaeology sites located in the Central and South American tropics.
- High quality photographs of starch grains retrieved and studied from
archaeological sites in the Neotropics and southwest Asia, as well as of starch grains from modern species used to identify archaeological
- Numerous modern plant specimens used for the construction of phytolith and starch grain reference collections and other study, comprising important economic and ecological species as well as the near wild relatives of domesticated species (e.g., maize, squashes, beans, manioc, yams, cocoyam, arrowroot).
In addition, the National Museum of Natural History, Department of Systematic Biology's Vertebrate Zoology Program houses over 5 million mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, and fish specimens, providing exceptional resources and comparative collections. For more information, please visit the Vertebrate Zoology web pages:
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