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Prehistoric turkey DNA used to track ancient Pueblo migration

Tim Kohler
Kohler

In the mid-to-late 1200s, some 30,000 ancestral pueblo farmers left their homes in southwestern Colorado’s Mesa Verde region and never returned.

Where these people went and why they left are two of American archeology’s longest-standing mysteries.

A new study co-led by archaeologists Tim Kohler, of Washington State University, and Brian Kemp, formerly at WSU, now at the University of Oklahoma, provides the first genetic evidence suggesting that many of Mesa Verde’s ancient farmers moved to the northern Rio Grande area in New Mexico, a region currently inhabited by the Tewa people.

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WSU News

Computer models find ancient solutions to modern problems

d’Alpoim Guedes

Washington State University archaeologists are at the helm of new research using sophisticated computer technology to learn how past societies responded to climate change.

Their work, which links ancient climate and archaeological data, could help modern communities identify new crops and other adaptive strategies when threatened by drought, extreme weather and other environmental challenges.

In a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jade d’Alpoim Guedes, assistant professor of anthropology, and WSU colleagues Stefani Crabtree, Kyle Bocinsky and Tim Kohler examine how recent advances in computational modeling are reshaping the field of archaeology.

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Researcher: Turkeys a major part of ancestral Pueblo life

William Lipe
William Lipe

While the popular notion of the American Thanksgiving is less than 400 years old, the turkey has been part of American lives for more than 2,000 years. But for much of that time, the bird was more revered than eaten.

Washington State University archaeologists over the years have repeatedly seen evidence, from bones to blankets to DNA extracted from ancient poop, suggesting that the Pueblo people of the Southwest bred turkeys as far back as 200 B.C.

“Turkeys were an important bird symbolically and in practical ways as a source of feathers that kept people warm in the winter,” said Bill Lipe, a WSU professor emeritus of anthropology with decades of experience in the area. “And they were also important as a food source, probably primarily at periodic feasts and ritual gatherings.”

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WSU News

Cooking the world’s oldest known curry

Why India is a nation of foodies

Had you been washed ashore four millennia ago on the banks of the now lost river of Saraswati and hitched a bullock cart ride to Farmana in the Ghaggar valley near modern-day Delhi, here’s what you might have eaten—a curry.

For in 2010, when advanced science met archaeology at an excavation site in Farmana—southeast of the largest Harappan city of Rakhigarhi—they made history, and it was edible.

Steven Webber
Steve Webber

Archaeologists Arunima Kashyap and Steve Webber, professor of anthropology at WSU Vancouver, used the method of starch analysis to trace the world’s first-known or “oldest” proto-curry of aubergine, ginger and turmeric from the pot shard of a bulbous handi (pot). » More …

Summer archaeology school will explore old riverfront site

New research on an old riverfront site will be a highlight of this summer’s Public Archaeology Field School at Fort Vancouver.

The annual sessions give college students hands-on experience in field research at archaeological sites. Results of the digs help fill in the archaeological record at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, where communities lived long before making contact with white explorers and traders. More recent occupants included the Hudson’s Bay Company and the U.S. Army. » More …