Office: PH 0402
Degree : PhD - New York University
Advising : Archaeology
I am an archaeologist, so I teach many of the archaeology courses offered by our department. Some of these courses cover archaeological method and theory, while others cover topics in prehistory. The method and theory courses cover both laboratory and field. Through some of these courses, especially the field school and senior project, students have the opportunity to learn about anthropological archaeology by doing it.
I also teach ANTH 205: Introduction to Native American Studies, which I enjoy very much. This course gives me the opportunity to reach a broader student audience, and I believe learning and teaching about living Native Americans makes me a better archaeologist. I also teach an interdisciplinary studies (IS) course called "Living Ecologically", which again gives me the opportunity to reach a greater variety of students. I enjoy teaching the IS course with my partner in Biology, Dr. Paul Brunkow, because I am interested in human use of the environment across cultures and because I am an environmentalist.
2002: A.E. Harmon 11MS136
2006: D. hitchins 11MS1124
2009: Gehring 11MS99 & 11MS157
2013: Gehring 11MS99
2014: Gehring 11MS99
Click here to see a video from the 2009 field school
ANTH 205: Introduction to Native American Studies
ANTH 325: Archaeological Method and Theory
ANTH 333: New World Cities and States
ANTH 334: Origins of Agriculture
ANTH 336: North American Prehistory
ANTH 430: Zooarchaeology
ANTH 432: Prehistory of Illinois
ANTH 475: Archaeology Field School
ANTH 490: Senior Assignment
ANTH 491: Senior Project
I'm originally from Barnhart , Missouri , the youngest of five children and one of the first people in my family to attend college. I went to Washington University in St. Louis on scholarship, where I got my B.A. in anthropology. I was always interested in other cultures, but after I went on my first archaeological excavation at age 18, I decided that past cultures were the cultures that interested me most. In college I studied prehistoric ceramics, flintknapping, and human osteology before I decided that I wanted to specialize in zooarchaeology, the study of animal remains from archaeological sites. My M.A. and Ph.D. are from New York University. At NYU I studied European archaeology for a year before I decided that Midwestern archaeology interested me more.
I have been teaching at SIUE since the fall of 2000. I am really happy to have a job only an hour away from my family back in Barnhart. SIUE is also conveniently located right in the middle of my research area. I love teaching and working with students, most of whom are from the area where I grew up.
I am interested in the Native American (pre)history of western Illinois , particularly the American Bottom (the portion of the Mississippi River valley that stretches from Alton to Chester ) and the Illinois Valley. For my master's thesis I analyzed animal remains and features from a Terminal Late Woodland-Emergent Mississippian site (ca. AD 800-1000) near Cahokia . For my dissertation I analyzed animal remains and features from Middle Woodland-early Late Woodland sites (ca. AD 100-500) farther north, in the Illinois Valley. Fortunately, SIUE is centrally located within my research area. Unfortunately, the rich archaeological record of this area is rapidly being destroyed due to development. By teaching field schools in this area, I have the opportunity to do my research, educate students, and document a small portion of that archaeological record before it disappears.
My specialty is zooarchaeology, the archaeology of animal remains. Animal remains obviously give information about the environment and human diet in prehistory; however, they can also tell us about prehistoric socioeconomies and ancient belief systems. Beyond zooarchaeology, I am more broadly interested in the interaction between humans, animals, plants, and the rest of the environment. I enjoy living in the area where I do my research; on a daily basis I can see many of the same animals, plants, and features of the landscape that ancient Native Americans saw. I must admit that the prehistoric human-plant relationship of western Illinois was more dynamic than the human-animal relationship. Native Americans hunted deer and fished throughout most of prehistory, and while their preference for one animal vs. the other varied during different periods and in different places, that variation is pretty subtle. Variation in human-plant relationships is much more dramatic, given that Native Americans domesticated a number of native weedy species several thousand years ago and imported maize about a thousand years ago. However, as much as I love looking for, and sometimes finding and even eating these native weeds, I really don't want to look at seeds underneath a microscope all day! To save my eyes and my sanity, I'm going to stick to bones. Besides, bones are fun.
In recent years I've also become interested in why Cahokia became the largest Native American settlement north of Mexico during the Mississippian period. (ca. AD 1050-1350). In 2009 I published an article titled "Rethinking the Ramey State: Was Cahokia the Center of a Theater State?" in American Antiquity. Check it out! Since then I've become convinced that the Native American hero Red Horn was the key to Cahokia's ability to attract supporters. Some of my ideas about Red Horn and his importance at Cahokia can be found in "Ritual Objects and the Red Horn State: Decoding the Theater State at Cahokia," which was published in Illinois Antiquity in 2013. Check it out!