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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Anthropology

Radiocarbon dating adds a millennium to Sakaro Sodo stelae

Sakaro Sado pictured in 2014.Rising as high as 20 feet, ancient stone monoliths in southern Ethiopia are 1,000 years older than scientists previously thought, according to a new study in the Journal of African Archaeology led by Ashenafi Zena (’19 PhD).

“This is one of the most understudied archaeological sites in the world, and we wanted to change that,” said Zena, who is now at the State Historical Society of North Dakota. » More …

The vital role of camus cultivation

Molly Carney.An environmental archaeologist, Molly Carney (’21 PhD) connects Native American history, wisdom, and experiences to our 21st century world and links the evolution of human life to earth’s botanical life.

Carney is currently reconstructing the cultural history and plant food used by Northwest Native communities, specifically camas (Camassia quamash), a bulb plant that has been a valuable food for tribal communities for thousands of years. » More …

WSU’s first Fulbirght-Hays scholar

Daphne Weber kneeling for a photo while surrounded by monks.Anthropology doctoral candidate Daphne Weber is headed to Thailand as WSU’s first recipient of a Fulbright-Hays award, part of the renowned Fulbright suite of awards.

Weber will spend a year living with and interviewing Thai female monks, formally known as bhikkhuni. She will conduct extensive research for her PhD dissertation on the healing effects of ordination. While female monks are recognized in » More …

Research and innovation highlights

WSU Spirit Mark.As COVID-19 swept the nation in March 2020, faculty with ongoing studies were required to put them on hold or pivot to make the research relevant to the pandemic.

“Science and teamwork are our best hope for a way forward,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz in October 2020. “I am incredibly proud of our faculty whose persistence and innovation will help us get through this crisis and prevent a future one.” » More …

New technology to uncover wrongs from the past

Colin Grier.Colin Grier, a WSU professor of anthropology, is the principal investigator for a National Science Foundation-funded effort to shed light on the capabilities of ground penetrating radar (GPR) to find and identify archaeological features, including graves, that are many decades or even centuries old. He hopes that ultimately his work will help bring closure to the families of the thousands of First Nation children who went missing at Canada’s Indian Residential Schools, which operated between 1883-1996. » More …

Making a difference

Lead Ceremony 2021. President's Awards.The 2021 WSU President’s Awards for Leadership and Engagement Award of Distinction (LEAD) recognized 17 CAS students and a faculty member for outstanding contributions across our diverse campus communities.

“This is a prestigious award that recognizes…the ways they give back to the community and empower others,” said Phillip Sinapati, ASWSU advisor and » More …

Seeds of economic health disparities

ndigenous adult man on typical wooden canoe chopped from a single tree navigating murky waters of Ecuadorian Amazonian primary jungle.No billionaires live among the Tsimane people of Bolivia, although some are a bit better off than others. These subsistence communities on the edge of the Amazon also have fewer chronic health problems linked to the kind of dramatic economic disparity found in industrialized Western societies.

“The connection between inequality and health is not as straightforward as what you would see in an industrialized population,” said Aaron Blackwell,  associate professor of anthropology and lead researcher on a study » More …

Social tensions preceded disruptions in ancient Pueblo societies

Cliff Palace of the Ancestral Pueblo people.Drought is often blamed for the periodic disruptions of ancient Pueblo societies, but research with potential implications for the modern world, a WSU archaeologist has found evidence that slowly accumulating social tension likely played a substantial role in three dramatic upheavals in Pueblo development.

“Societies that are cohesive can often find ways to overcome climate challenges,” said Tim Kohler, Regents professor of » More …

Protein limits in prehistoric Pacific Coast diets

Salmon jumping upstream.Humans cannot live on protein alone—not even the ancient indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest whose diet was once thought to be almost all salmon.

In a new paper led by WSU anthropologist Shannon Tushingham, researchers document the many dietary solutions ancient Pacific Coast people in North America likely employed to avoid “salmon starvation,” a toxic and potentially fatal condition brought on by eating too much lean protein. » More …