Skip to main content Skip to navigation
College of Arts and Sciences Anthropology

The curation crisis

The Marmes RockshelterMore than 8,500 years ago, a group of people used a rock shelter at the confluence of the Palouse and Snake Rivers as a base camp. When rediscovered in the early 1950s, the shelter amazed scientists, including Washington State University archeologist Richard Daugherty, with its wealth of artifacts—and the age of its human remains. Named after the property owner at the time, the Marmes Rockshelter was soon inundated by waters from the recently closed Lower Monumental Dam on the Snake. Although a levee had been built by the Army Corps of Engineers to keep the shelter dry, the Corps neglected to take into account the layer of permeable gravel beneath the site. Within three days, it was all under water. » More …

Northwest Indians used tobacco long before European contact

David Gang, left, and Shannon Tushingham holding ancient tobacco pipes WSU researchers have determined that Nez Perce Indians grew and smoked tobacco at least 1,200 years ago, long before the arrival of traders and settlers from the eastern United States. Their finding upends a long-held view that indigenous people in this area of the interior Pacific Northwest smoked only kinnikinnick or bearberry before traders brought tobacco starting around 1790.

Shannon Tushingham, a WSU assistant professor and director of its Museum of Anthropology, made the discovery after teaming up with David Gang, a professor in the Institute of Biological Chemistry, to analyze pipes and » More …

Vancouver junior awarded National Udall Scholarship

student with WSU flag on a suspension footbridgeWSU Vancouver cultural anthropology major Emma Johnson has received a prestigious and nationally competitive Udall Undergraduate Scholarship in its tribal public policy category.

“The Udall (Scholarship) is incredibly important to me,” said Johnson. “Completing all the work to apply and then being successful, it’s a really huge deal. It is helping me complete my education.”

Johnson, 22 years old, is WSU’s fifth Udall recipient since 2015. The Udall Foundation, a federal agency, works both to strengthen » More …

Researcher named to Washington State Academy of Sciences

Professor in officeTimothy Kohler, Regents professor in anthropology, has been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences

He is an eminent archaeologist and evolutionary anthropologist specializing in quantitative analyses of prehistoric behavior set in climatically accurate paleoenvironments. He is well known for his work on cooperative behaviors, wealth inequalities and their consequences, and models of pre-Hispanic agricultural » More …

Arts & humanities faculty awarded 2018 fellowships

green background with WSU shieldSeven College of Arts and Sciences faculty received WSU Arts and Humanities Fellowship awards through a program funded by the Office of Research.

“These grants showcase the range and innovation of creative and humanistic work at WSU,” said Todd Butler, chair of the fellowship review committee. “These faculty are taking on challenging questions and demonstrating the vital contributions the arts and humanities » More …

A mother’s microbial gift

Illustration by Colin JohnsonOld assumptions about human breast milk are giving way to new thinking about microbes in milk and their role in children’s health and our immune systems.

It happened again, most recently at a conference in Prague. After she gave her talk, a scientist came up to Shelley McGuire, a pioneer exploring the microbial communities found in human breast milk, and told her, You don’t know how to take a sample. Your samples must have been contaminated. Human milk is sterile. » More …

Master’s student blends overseas research, local outreach

Amanda TheilPassionate about plants and nearing graduation with a master’s in cultural anthropology, Amanda Thiel has traveled overseas for her research and educated elementary school children about botany.

Thiel went to rural Guatemala in the summer of 2016 to research ethnobotany, the study of how people use plants in their region. During her two-month stay, she interviewed Q’eqchi’ Maya villagers about the type of plants growing in their gardens, and used the information » More …

The people’s plants

hat woven from long leavesThe Dominican boy had a leaf draped over his head, secured with a length of vine. Anthropologist Marsha Quinlan was intrigued.

“I asked him, ‘Is that a hat?’” she recalls. “And he explained that, no, he woke up with a headache and the leaf makes your head feel better. And I thought that was so cool!”

Quinlan was a graduate student at the time, on her first trip to the Caribbean island of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic). And that was the moment she realized she had to delve further into ethnobotany. » More …

Washington State University