Category: Archaeology

What Poop Can Teach Us About an Ancient City’s Downfall

Read the full story at Atlas Obscura.

Never underestimate the power of poop. After more than 1,000 years, it can still have a lot to offer.

Just ask the authors of a new study, out today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which discusses how fecal remains can teach us about the rise and fall of Cahokia, an ancient city less than 10 miles outside of present-day St. Louis, Missouri. According to UNESCO, Cahokia was “the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico.”

Previous excavations of houses in the area, said co-author Sissel Schroeder in a press release, had found that the city’s population began to grow around the year 600, peaking by 1100 with tens of thousands of residents. Things began to change around 1200, with the city emptying out by 1400. AJ White, lead author of the new study and a Ph.D. candidate in archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley, set out with his colleagues to fuse data from both the archaeological and environmental records, in hopes of clarifying what drove out Cahokia’s residents.

Job announcement: Assistant or Associate Research Scientist, Environmental Archaeologist, Illinois State Archaeological Survey

Closing date: March 13, 2019
More information or to apply

The Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) is part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which is centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. For 80 years, the University of Illinois has studied the state’s archaeological heritage. ISAS incorporates that knowledge in its programs to protect, preserve, and interpret these irreplaceable and non-renewable resources within the context of Illinois’ need to encourage and promote sustainable development. Learn more at go.illinois.edu/PRIjobs.

ISAS is seeking an Assistant or Associate Research Scientist, Environmental Archaeologist (assistant or associate level is dependent on qualifications) to develop, plan, conduct, direct, and participate in specialized research programs of significance for climate and environmental-focused archaeological/anthropological research. This position is based in Champaign, Illinois.

Responsibilities, which will vary depending on position level:

  • Provide problem-oriented geo-archaeological, sedimentological, hydrological, and/or bio-chemical expertise that complements current and future ISAS research in the North American Midwest focused on landscapes, long-term cultural and climate change, agricultural development, and migration.
  • Identify relevant research needs and project opportunities.
  • Develop proposals for external funding and secure funding to support independent research.
  • Serve as principal investigator, lead research projects, and perform tasks in that capacity including management of grant funding and efficient production of project, grant, or contract reports and deliverables.
  • Collaborate with survey scientists, University of Illinois faculty, and external colleagues to provide integrated interpretations and applications to existing and new research programs.
  • Prepare internal reports, reports to sponsoring agencies, and scientific reports for publication in Survey publications.
  • Publish the results of original research in high-quality, peer-reviewed scientific journals and other outlets that have a rigorous review process.
  • Interact extensively with land managers, stakeholders, and the public.
  • Provide authoritative and current information on the results of research projects for the public, other scientists, industry, and/or governmental agencies, and effectively communicate research results through writing and public speaking.
  • Supervise and lead staff to achieve success and foster a culture of innovation and high-level performance at both the individual and organizational levels. For direct reporting staff, this also includes task assignment, scheduling, ongoing performance monitoring and evaluation, career/position mentoring, and leave/travel approval.
  • Ensure the safety of staff and equipment.
  • Contribute in the areas of education, outreach, and/or other service to the Survey, PRI, the University of Illinois, and the state of Illinois.
  • Mentor graduate students within the University of Illinois and/or other regional universities.
  • Enhance the reputation of the Survey and PRI at the state and national level.
  • Actively participate in professional societies and associations.
  • Attend scientific conferences and sponsor-led work groups as a technical expert and present papers and results.
  • Keep abreast of developments in this discipline.
  • Perform other duties as needed in order to further the mission and goals of PRI.

Assistant Research Scientist qualifications

Required: Ph.D. in anthropology, archaeology, or closely related field with a geoarchaeological or biochemical specialization. Alternate degree fields will be considered/accepted depending on the nature and depth of the experience as it relates to this position. Experience in academic research environment. Experience administering and conducting field and laboratory research in the Americas. Supervisory and/or team leadership experience. Ability to establish a research program which includes both independent and collaborative research projects. Potential to effectively acquire and manage project funds and resources. Capacity to effectively manage research as a principal investigator and effectively supervise and mentor associated personnel. Early career track record for publishing in high-quality, peer-reviewed scientific journals. Effective communication, personal relations, organizational, and leadership skills. Demonstrated ability to perform effectively in a diverse and fast-paced work environment consisting of multiple and changing priorities with stringent deadlines, under minimal supervision. Attention to detail, sound judgment, and strong conflict resolution skills. Affinity for cooperative or interdisciplinary research with scientists at the Survey, professionals at other Surveys or other academic units, as well as governmental and other academic institutions. Proficiency in commonly-employed software and databases. Valid driver’s license.

Preferred:  Experience conducting archaeological research activities. Established field research site or program. Experience incorporating extant archaeological collections into current research. Research interests in the Mississippi valley. Experience in cultural resource management. Background as a North American archaeologist with geo-archaeological, sedimentological, hydrological, and/or bio-chemical research that complement that of ISAS staff and speaks to questions of climate change, food production, ecology, society, and the Anthropocene. Record of active participation in professional societies and associations.

Associate Research Scientist qualifications

Required:  Ph.D. in anthropology, archaeology, or closely related field with a geoarchaeological or biochemical specialization. Alternate degree fields will be considered/accepted depending on the nature and depth of the experience as it relates to this position.  At least five years’ experience in specialized area of research. Experience in academic research environment. Experience administering and conducting field and laboratory research in the Americas. Supervisory and/or team leadership experience.  Background as an Americanist archaeologist with geo-archaeological, sedimentological, hydrological, and/or bio-chemical research that complement that of ISAS staff and speaks to questions of climate change, food production, ecology, society, and the Anthropocene. Ability to establish a research program which includes both independent and collaborative research projects. Capacity to effectively manage research as a principal investigator and effectively supervise and mentor associated personnel. Has a sustained progression of professional development that includes publishing research findings in high-quality peer-reviewed scientific journals, external funding, mentorship, leadership and service. Record of active participation in professional societies and associations. Effective communication, personal relations, organizational, and leadership skills. Demonstrated ability to perform effectively in a diverse and fast-paced work environment consisting of multiple and changing priorities with stringent deadlines, under minimal supervision. Attention to detail, sound judgment, and strong conflict resolution skills. Affinity for cooperative or interdisciplinary research with scientists at the Survey, professionals at other Surveys or other academic units, as well as governmental and other academic institutions. Proficiency in commonly-employed software and databases. Valid driver’s license

Preferred:  Background as a North American archaeologist.

This is a regular full-time academic professional appointment, renewable annually based upon satisfactory progress in the position and continued funding. The starting date is negotiable and salary is commensurate with experience.

Job announcement: Director/Principal Research Scientist, Illinois State Archaeological Survey

The Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) is part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which is centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. For 80 years, the University of Illinois has studied the state’s archaeological heritage. ISAS incorporates that knowledge in its programs to protect, preserve, and interpret these irreplaceable and non-renewable resources within the context of Illinois’ need to encourage and promote sustainable development. Learn more at go.illinois.edu/PRIjobs.

ISAS is seeking a Director/Principal Research Scientist to serve in the top leadership position providing strategic direction and overall administration for the Survey, managing the transportation archaeology program, and establishing additional research programs within ISAS. This position is based in Champaign, Illinois.

Applications accepted through November 27, 2018.

Native American Cultural Property: Additional Agency Actions Needed to Assist Tribes with Repatriating Items from Overseas Auctions

Download the document.

What GAO Found

Federal agencies have taken several actions in response to Native American tribes’ requests for assistance in repatriating cultural items from overseas auctions. For example, the Departments of the Interior and State have facilitated communication and arranged meetings between U.S. and foreign government officials, and in one case, the Department of Justice obtained a warrant for the forfeiture of a Native American cultural item being auctioned overseas. In addition, in 2015, the Departments of Homeland Security, the Interior, Justice, and State established a staff-level interagency working group to discuss issues and share information related to Native American cultural property. However, the working group has not adopted selected leading collaboration practices, such as developing outcomes and objectives or clarifying participants’ roles and responsibilities. Working group officials GAO interviewed cited the benefits of working informally, including enabling them to respond more quickly to tribal requests. Some tribal officials told GAO that the informal nature of the working group has been challenging to navigate for tribes seeking assistance. Adopting leading collaboration practices could enhance the working group’s ability to assist tribes in facilitating the return of cultural items from overseas auctions.

Native American Items in Overseas Auctions by Region of Origin, 2012-2017

a  data-cke-saved-name=

No federal law explicitly prohibits the export of Native American cultural items, creating a challenge for tribes because they cannot easily prove that the items were exported from the United States illegally. In addition, several federal laws address the theft and sale of Native American cultural items, but they are limited in scope, creating a challenge for tribes to prove that a violation of these laws has occurred. Federal standards for internal control call for agencies to identify, assess, and respond to risks related to achieving the defined objectives. However, agency officials said they have not assessed whether and how federal laws could be amended to address these challenges, because the sale of cultural items at overseas auctions is a recent issue and the agencies’ direct legal involvement has been limited. Since amending laws would require congressional action, the working group could assist Congress by assessing whether and how to amend the existing legal framework governing the export, theft, and trafficking of Native American cultural items and reporting its findings to Congress.

Why GAO Did This Study

Recently, overseas auction house sales of Native American cultural items have raised concerns among tribes and the U.S. government that the items may have been taken without tribes’ consent. While no comprehensive data exist on the world market for Native American cultural items, several tribes have identified items in at least 15 auctions in Paris, France, since 2012. Some tribes have sought to repatriate these items with help from the Departments of Homeland Security, the Interior, Justice, and State. GAO was asked to review federal agency repatriation efforts. This report examines (1) federal agencies’ actions to assist tribes in repatriating cultural items being auctioned overseas and (2) the laws that address the export, theft, and trafficking of cultural items and any challenges in proving violations of these laws.

GAO reviewed federal and tribal documentation on international repatriation; compared federal actions with selected leading collaboration practices; analyzed laws and legal proceedings; and interviewed agency, tribal, and international organization officials selected for their involvement in international repatriation.

What GAO Recommends

GAO made 12 recommendations, 3 to each of the 4 agencies, including implementing leading collaboration practices and assessing the U.S. legal framework governing the export, theft, and trafficking of these cultural items. The agencies agreed, except Justice disagreed with the recommendation to assess the U.S. legal framework. GAO believes this recommendation is still valid, as discussed in the report.

How Archaeologists Play A Role In The Forest Service’s Response To Wildfires

Read the full story at NPR.

When wildfire starts, a lot of people decide what areas should burn, and where a fire should be fought. One of those people is an archaeologist from the U.S. Forest Service.

%d bloggers like this: