Welcome to the Environmental Archaeology Research Lab!

Research in the Environmental Archaeology Research Laboratory (EARL) is broadly focused on understanding human-environment interactions in the past. Research at EARL is grounded in environmental archaeology and archaeological science, and applies geoarchaeology, paleoethnobotany, and lithic analysis methods to investigate hunter-gatherer adaptations and landscape use. EARL is focused on understanding the initial settlement of North America and human-environment interactions over time, with a regional focus in the Great Basin, Columbia Plateau, and subarctic Alaska.

Dr. John Blong, EARL

Current Projects

Alaska Range Uplands Project

The primary focus of the Alaska Range Uplands Project is to explain the timing, environmental context, and nature of human colonization of the uplands, and to explore how the environment and use of upland landscapes changed throughout the pre-contact period. This project consists of fieldwork in the central Alaska Range, and laboratory research including lithic, paleoecological, and geochemical sample analysis. You can read research outputs from the Alaska Range Uplands Project on Researchgate.

Traditional Foods of the Great Basin

This project is a study of traditional use of plants for food and medicine in the prehistoric Great Basin. The Traditional Foods of the Great Basin project reconstructs plant use over time primarily through the analysis of preserved human fecal material from arid cave sites in the Great Basin. The goal of this project is to explore the role of plant foods in maintaining food security across the terminal Pleistocene and Holocene Great Basin.

Investigating the Western Stemmed Tradition and Nimíipuu Traditional Subsistence Practices in Western North America

The Kelly Forks Work Center Site (10CW34) in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, Idaho, has an occupation sequence spanning the Western Stemmed Tradition (WST) through the historic period. The site is within the homelands of the Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) Tribe, in an upland area traditionally important for late summer and early fall subsistence activities. The WST component at the Kelly Forks Work Center Site offers an opportunity to investigate the antiquity of Nimíipuu upland subsistence practices, seasonal land-use patterns, and the chronological relationship of WST projectile point types. Our current research at the Kelly Forks site is focused on a geoarchaeological study of the site’s sediments to better understand the context and temporal sequence of the WST occupation and analyzing stone tools and sediments from the WST component for plant and animal residues and microfossils to investigate traditional Nimíipuu upland subsistence activities.