logolab2The bioarchaeology lab at the International Institute for Prehistoric Research of Cantabria has extensive reference collections needed for the study of biological materials recovered from archaeological sites. These allow us to reconstruct and interpret the way of life of past societies, in addition to, identifying  past environmental and climatic conditions.

The lab has diverse and extensive osteological reference collections of animal, human, and fish bones in addition to biological remains of molluscs, a big botanical collection and specimens exhibiting tafonomic processes. Located in the south attic of the ‘edificio interfacultivo’ building, at the University of Cantabria, the lab has the technical resources needed for the study of zooarchaeological, archaeobotanical, archaeomalacological and paleoanthropological remains from Pleistocene and Holocene archaeological sites.

Currently, the Bioarchaeology lab is composed of nine specialists in archaeozoology, archaeomalacology, anthropology and stable isotope analysis, and one lab technician. The team carry out several research projects focused on the middle and upper Paleolithic, and recent prehistory in the Iberian Peninsula and eastern Europe.


In the bioarch lab we also train undergraduate, masters and PhD students interested in bioarchaeology. Doctoral and postdoctoral researchers are also welcome to visit the lab, to use our reference collections and facilities.

Mammals osteological collection

The comparative osteological collection, has more than 170 different individuals, including the more common domestic animals found in recent Prehistoric contexts, and the wild animals hunted throughout the Paleolithic. Several carnivore families are also present in the collection. All age ranges are represented: from fetal to senile individuals, of both sexes.

The collection is organized by order (carnivore, artiodactyla, perisodactyla), species, and anatomical part (left side). The right side of the animals are archived in plastic boxes for each individual belonging to the reference collections. This enables comparisons of anatomical elements, and more detailed taxonomical comparisons of the complete individuals. The taphonomic collection enables diagenetic and post-depositional alterations of bones that may be present within archaeological assemblages.

The animals of that collections came from agreements with the Government of Cantabria and Asturias, zoos (Cabárceno, Santillana del Mar, el Karpin), natural parks, loans and some donations.

You can consult our reference collection: (act. July_ 2015): Colección de referencia_fauna_IIIPC

Anthropological collection:

The collection of human remains has more than 200 bones from different individuals, with various ages and genders represented. The remains are classifieds by anatomical parts, that facilitates study, and we have several pathological and taphhonomic human bones for comparison

Ictiological collection

The ictiological collection has more than 21 individuals with 19 different species from several environmental zones of the Cantabrian Region (rivers, estuaries, sea, etc.)

You can consult our reference collection: Colección de referencia_peces_IIIPC

Carpological collection:

The carpological reference collection of the IIIPC, has seeds from more than 1200 plant species, with a particular emphasis on specimens found in the Atlantic zone of the Iberian peninsula in recent prehistory (the Holocene). The collection is ordered, following the nomenclature of IT IS Catalogue of Life, by families and genders. The current species came from direct collection by iiipc members, as well as donation from different botanic gardens and others carpological reference collections. There is also a seed taphonomic reference collection. Taphonomic experiments have been used to create specimens that have been charred, deposited in animal manure or eaten by rodents. The collection also contains some archaeological charred samples donated by institutions and archaeologists. All the specimens and their origins are registered in a database following Bauble, Biodiversity Collection Manager, free software, GNU-GPL multiplatform (Windows/Linux).

Malacological collection (in process)