Dr. Jennifer Birch is an archaeologist who specializes in the Archaeology of Eastern North America. Her work is underpinned by the desire to understand the relationship between long-term processes of cultural change and the lived experience of individuals and communities. Her primary areas of expertise include processes of settlement aggregation and the archaeology of Northern Iroquoian societies. The major impacts of her research have been on developing understandings of the nature of organizational complexity and diversity in Pre-Columbian Eastern North America. Her current research projects employ a range of methodologies including integrative analyses of settlement data, geophysical prospection, social network analysis, and chronology-building. She is co-director of the Singer-Moye Archaeological Settlement History Project (SMASH) and team lead for Dating Iroquoia, an NSF-funded project which seeks to refine archaeological chronologies for Northern Iroquoian archaeology.
Jake Lulewicz is an archaeologist working primarily in the Southeastern United States. His interests are rooted in the construction of social histories as a means to investigate the transformation of social landscapes as they are constituted in the meshwork of intra-community dynamics and small-scale local networks of interaction. Broadly, his work seeks to track changes to the fundamental social structures that constitute the broader institutional phenomena archaeologists seek to understand, and especially how these changes articulate with the emergence of sociopolitical complexity in small-scale societies.
Jake’s dissertation research is concerned with broad scale cultural change and continuity across Southern Appalachia between A.D. 600 and 1300. This work takes a bottom-up approach to the emergence of sociopolitical complexity in the region that is rooted in changes to everyday practices and interpersonal relationships. In order to investigate changes to community and network patterning across this historical landscape, he draws from a variety of methodological applications including archaeometry (especially ceramic petrography and optical mineralogy), network analysis and spatial statistics, geophysical and geochemical prospection, Bayesian analysis of radiometric dates, and traditional ceramic analysis.
Megan Anne Conger is a fourth-year Ph.D. student. Her current research considers how relationships between Native communities in Southern Ontario changed over the course of the 16th and 17th centuries. In particular, she is investigating the differential timing of early interactions between European settlers and Native communities, considering the possibility that Native communities engaged in these interactions in a variety of ways other than simple acceptance or rejection. This incorporates traditional analyses of trade goods (glass beads, metal artifacts) with the construction of Bayesian Chronological Models using high-precision AMS radiocarbon dates. Her research bridges prehistoric and historic archaeologies and is rooted in both world-systems and postcolonial intellectual frameworks.
Megan has extensive experience analyzing museum collections and working in museums and repositories in the Canada and the US. Her analytical skills include geophysical survey, soil chemistry, and faunal analysis. She has international fieldwork experience in Canada (Ontario) and Mongolia (Khovsgol Province), as well as domestic experience in New York, Georgia, Illinois, and New Mexico. She is currently a research assistant on Dating Iroquoia, an NSF-funded effort between University of Georgia and Cornell University which aims to refine archaeological chronologies across southern Ontario and New York state using Bayesian Chronological Modeling of high-precision AMS radiocarbon dates.
Travis Jones is a PhD student trained in anthropological archaeology and archaeological science. He is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a graduate research associate at the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at University of Georgia. Broadly speaking, Travis’ theoretical research interests include applications of time in archaeology, organizational complexity, landscapes, and identity. His methodological expertise is in chronological modeling, materials analysis (isotopic and elemental), and the application of large datasets. His dissertation research investigates the timing and tempo of settlement formation and intergroup competition among the earliest villagers in the Middle Missouri region of the Northern Plains. The goal of this research is to: 1) create a durable, high-resolution settlement chronology for early Plains Village groups using Bayesian modeling of new and legacy radiocarbon dates; and 2) explore the relationship between village-making and the evolution of social organization among middle-range societies transitioning to sedentism. Travis is also currently collaborating with other researchers at the Center for Applied Isotope Studies, the Smithsonian Institution, and various regional institutions and agencies on the first pan-regional obsidian provenance database for the Great Plains.
Jon Micon is a graduate student at the University of Georgia studying anthropology with a focus in archaeology. As an undergraduate student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, he majored in history with a minor in indigenous studies. Following an internship with Petersburg National Battlefield Park, Jon learned about the benefits of employing archaeological techniques to investigate the past and subsequently added on anthropology as a major field of study. In preceding years, he excavated at sites across North America including those in Virginia, southern Illinois, coastal Georgia, and southern Ontario. For his honors undergraduate thesis, Jon employed a chaine-operatoire framework to test the validity of several proposed theories on the manufacture of copper objects among Native Alaskan groups.
Jon’s current research asks how changes in regional political systems manifest at the local level. More specifically, how do these changes effect groups at the periphery of political systems? To answer these questions, he is investigating a group of Iroquoian-speaking horticulturalists living along the upper St. Lawrence valley who were uniquely positioned between two nascent political confederacies during the sixteenth century C.E. What was the relationship between these St. Lawrence residents and their neighbors? Did these relationships change? and if so, how did it effect dynamics within each community? By comparing trends in materials associated with regional interaction and those associated with domestic practices Jon will be able to better describe how changes at the regional and local levels co-varied.
Sarah Nowell is an archaeologist who specializes in the Canadian Plateau and Pacific Northwest regions of North America. Her research interests have involved understanding the processes that influence socioeconomics and demography at the household level. This includes an interrelated set of activities that comprise group decision making, economic, political, and spatial organization. Methodologically, Sarah uses lithic and spatial analyses to understand household activity.
For her dissertation research, she plans to adapt her interests and methodological strengths to village and regional scales. In a region that has long been the center of projects designed to understand the emergence of inequality and status hierarchy, it is important gather more information about the relationships between large aggregate villages as well as those between large settlements and smaller ones within the region. By doing so, she hopes to contribute to a broader understanding of the social organization and group identity in the Mid-Fraser.
Edgar Alcaron's research centers individual lifetimes and the household as lenses through which to examine wider ecological and social contexts in the past. Edgar attempts to understand aspects of the lived-experience of past individuals through an Osteobiographical approach when considering the diets, physical activity and subsistence practices of individuals at snapshots in time. Edgar’s research is situated in the Neolithic subsistence transition of Mesoamerica.
Edgar plans to apply radiogenic and stable isotope analyses of Strontium, Carbon and Nitrogen to for paleodietary reconstruction, while keeping a reflexive point of view on traditional paleodietary study in bioarchaeology. Traditionally, 87Sr/86Sr ratios are treated as stable in that they do not fractionate between trophic levels. Archaeological plants, animal bone and human bone generally reflect the strontium isotope ratio of the geologic province from which they originate. Edgar’s research plans to cross-examine archaeological assumptions of Neolithic diets - based primarily on agricultural products - through both Carbon/ Nitrogen isotope analysis as well as 88Sr/86Sr ratio analysis. In short, the ratio of 88Sr/86Sr does change between trophic levels and can provide an independent source of evidence to cross-examine the narratives we construct about past dietary practices.
Furthermore, Edgar’s research will examine the household or subsets of a Neolithic population as actors of subsistence practices. Neolithization populations in Mesoamerica, unlike their Terminal Pleistocene or Archaic counterparts, were more sedentary and invested in plant food resources rather than wild game or wild plants. The question of timing of the sedentary/ agriculture shift is far from settled. Study of activity patterns and mobility are one insight into this discussion. In order infer patterns of physical activity, Edgar plans to examine cross-sectional geometric properties of limb bones that elicit adaptation to patterns of physical activity. Torsional strength and Ruff’s Mobility Index of the lower limbs are just two of these cross-sectional properties that will allow a comparison to other Neolithic populations.
In the future, Edgar plans to further archaeological and bioarchaeological research in Mesoamerica by addressing challenges to the field and the region: accessibility of archaeological information to scholars and the general public, creation of local-level biogeochemical standards, refinement of chronologies, and partnership with stakeholder communities.