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Psychoactive plants Project

Residue Analysis & Experimental Archaeology Class

Since 2014, Shannon Tushingham has led a biennial graduate laboratory course on the use of chemical residue analysis in archaeology. In addition to learning a range of analytical techniques students conduct research projects which complement their broader interests as archaeologists. These projects go beyond the detection of psychoactive plant residues and reflect the diversity of research done in the WSU Department of Anthropology and have resulted in the investigation of a broad range of topics from characterizing residues left on ceramic vessels by rice to determining ancient cacao brewing recipes.

Presenting the Results of Student Research

NWAC 2017
Students are afforded the opportunity to present the results of their research at a recurring symposium at the annual Northwest Anthropological Conference, a regional meeting of anthropologists and, particularly, archaeologists. Sydney Hansen (WSU M.A. 2017), a student in the 2016 course, organized the first symposium at the April 2017 Northwest Anthropological Conference in Spokane, Washington titled Global Applications of Chemical Analysis in Archaeology where the results of a number of these projects and others were presented as papers. Topics included rice residues, Mesoamerican cacao recipe determination, the detection of cacao residues on ceramics from the American Southwest, and the detection of tobacco residues in pipes from Mesoamerica and from the Columbia Plateau.

NWAC 2019
The second symposium, organized Kate Shantry (Ph.D. student, WSU Anthropology), was held at the 2019 Northwest Anthropological Conference in Kennewick, Washington. The symposium, titled A Motley Crew of Experimenters was met with great interest and included papers on differentiating cacao from I. vomitoria in archaeological residues, detecting ancient cacao fermentation processes, further tobacco studies, and detecting residues on molcaxitl artifacts.

A complete list of presentations can be found on the Presentations and Publications page.