Jackie Meier on the Ritual Neolithic Site of Kfar HaHoresh

Jackie Meier, a Ph.D. Candidate at UCONN’s Department of Anthropology, is the lead author on a PLoS One Paper entitled Provisioning the Ritual Neolithic Site of Kfar HaHoresh, Israel at the Dawn of Animal Management.

Abstract of the Paper:

It is widely agreed that a pivotal shift from wild animal hunting to herd animal management, at least of goats, began in the southern Levant by the Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period (10,000–9,500 cal. BP) when evidence of ritual activities flourished in the region. As our knowledge of this critical change grows, sites that represent different functions and multiple time periods are needed to refine the timing, pace and character of changing human-animal relationships within the geographically variable southern Levant. In particular, we investigate how a ritual site was provisioned with animals at the time when herd management first began in the region. We utilize fauna from the 2010–2012 excavations at the mortuary site of Kfar HaHoresh—the longest continuous Pre-Pottery Neolithic B faunal sequence in the south Levantine Mediterranean Hills (Early–Late periods, 10,600–8,700 cal. BP). We investigate the trade-off between wild and domestic progenitor taxa and classic demographic indicators of management to detect changes in hunted animal selection and control over herd animal movement and reproduction. We find that ungulate selection at Kfar HaHoresh differs from neighboring sites, although changes in dietary breadth, herd demographics and body-size data fit the regional pattern of emerging management. Notably, wild ungulates including aurochs and gazelle are preferentially selected to provision Kfar HaHoresh in the PPNB, despite evidence that goat management was underway in the Mediterranean Hills. The preference for wild animals at this important site likely reflects their symbolic significance in ritual and mortuary practice.


Jackie Meier

UCONN Hosts 2016 Connecticut State Archaeology Fair

UCONN is proud to host the 2016 Connecticut Archaeology Fair. The Fair focuses on sharing the current state of knowledge about the history and prehistory of Connecticut with the public. Celebrate Archaeology Month and learn about the many UCONN archaeological investigations going on around the state and internationally. Local archaeological societies, historical societies, and universities will have displays highlighting past and current excavations and research with opportunities to see and touch real artifacts. The Fair will feature various talks by archaeologists working in the State, kids-friendly activities, and a tour of archaeological laboratories and research facilities at the Department of Anthropology. This event is free and open to the public.


2016 Connecticut Archaeology Fair

Armenian Fall Harvest Festival at UCONN

The Norian Armenian Programs at UCONN presents the Armenian Fall Harvest Festival. The festivities will be held on Saturday, September 17th between 12pm and 5pm. The Festival will include a number of cultural and culinary features, including a lecture entitled “Grape Cultivation & Wine Production in Armenia” by Dr. Nelli Hovhannisyan, director of the DNA laboratory at Yerevan State University. The Anthropology Department at UCONN has a strong and ongoing tradition of archaeological research and collaboration with Armenian scholars.

To RSVP and for more detailed information about the Festival including location, please visit the Norian Armenian Programs website.


Armenian Harvest Festival

Congratulations to this year’s REP winners!

Big congratulations to our three faculty members that were awarded in this year’s Research Excellence Program at UConn! The awarded projects are listed below:

Richard Christenson, PI, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Eleanor Shoreman-Ouimet, Co-PI, Anthropology
William Ouimet, Co-PI, Geography & Center for Integrative
Creating New Opportunities for International Research in
Disaster Science


Gideon Hartman, PI, Anthropology
Margaret Rubega, Co-PI, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Where Have All the Birds Gone? Using Stable Isotopes to Solve
the Mysterious Decline in Migratory Insectivorous Bird


Alexia Smith, PI, Anthropology
Examining the Modern and Ancient Morphological and Genetic
Diversity of Grape in Armenia


Special issue of JAS edited by Thomas Hart

Read a recently published issue of Journal of Archaeological Science edited by UConn Anthropology alumnus Thomas Hart. This special issue examines new trends in phytolith scholarship and assesses the future direction of this field of research.
Special section on Issues and Directions in Phytolith Analysis

Thomas C. Hart

This special issue examines new trends in phytolith scholarship and assesses the future direction of this field of research. The papers presented represent a broader shift in phytolith research into a new phase called the “Period of Expanding Applications”. It is characterized by 1) a rapid increase in the number of phytolith publications; 2) a diversification of research topics; 3) a reassessment of the use of radiocarbon and other isotopes in phytoliths; 4) the development of digital technologies for refining and sharing phytolith identifications; 5) renewed efforts for standardization of phytolith nomenclature and laboratory protocol; and 6) the development of the field of applied phytolith research. This paper argues that interdisciplinary collaborations and a continued effort to understand the basics of phytolith production patterns are essential for the growth of the discipline and its application in archaeological studies…

A.Petrillo was awarded Kenyon Fellowship honorable mention

A big congratulations to graduate student, Ashley Petrillo who was awarded an Honorable Mention for the prestigious Dienje Kenyon Fellowship at the Society of American Archaeology Annual Meeting in Orlando last weekend. The Kenyon honors outstanding female students in zooarchaeology.
Recipient: Ashley N. Petrillo
Ashley Petrillo has developed an engaging research proposal on ‘The Development of Dairying Economies in the Southern Levant.’ This study will focus on the nature of dairying and the use of secondary products from the Chalcolithic Period to the Early Bronze Age (c. 4 000-2000 B.C.E. ) which is critical to understanding the rise of social complexity. Milk provided a storable and sustainable source of nutrient rich protein and fats (cheese and yogurt) that could be traded and transported. She will select an array of sheep, goat, and cow dentin samples to conduct stable isotope analyses to explore human weaning and management strategies during this important period of developing complexity. This award hereby acknowledges the importance of her proposed research and its future success.

A new study by Gideon Hartman published in PNAS

Congratulations to Gideon Hartman, leading author on a study just published in PNAS. The co-authors also include Natalie Munro and a graduate student Alex Brittingham.
Hunted gazelles evidence cooling, but not drying, during the Younger Dryas in the southern Levant
Gideon Hartman, Ofer Bar-Yosef, Alex Brittingham, Leore Grosman, and Natalie D. Munro

The Terminal Pleistocene Younger Dryas (YD) event is frequently described as a return to glacial conditions. In the southern Levant it has featured prominently in explanations for the transition to agriculture—one of the most significant transformations in human history. This study provides rare local measures of the YD by deriving gazelle isotopic values from archaeological deposits formed by Natufian hunters just prior to and during the YD. The results provide evidence for cooling, but not drying during the YD and help reconcile contradicting climatic reconstructions in the southern Levant. We suggest that cooler conditions likely instigated the establishment of settlements in the Jordan Valley where warmer, more stable conditions enabled higher cereal biomass productivity and ultimately, the transition to agriculture…

Ground Penetrating Radar Project by Peter Leach


Peter Leach
(Photo: Jerrey Roberts/Gazettenet)

Ground-penetrating radar used to prepare for archaeological dig at Amherst Historical Museum

AMHERST — A high-altitude Peruvian rock shelter, Mayan ruins and caves in France are among the sites around the world where a three-wheeled device resembling an oversized tricycle has revealed what lurks below the ground’s surface.
While the lawn of the Amherst Historical Museum on Amity Street may not be the most unusual place that Peter Leach has brought his ground-penetrating radar, it was where the doctoral student in anthropology at the University of Connecticut spent his day on Monday. “The idea is to use this to figure out how the entire property is laid out, slicing back through time,” Leach said. Making 50-centimeter-wide swaths over much of the ¾-acre property, Leach began the process of discovering what might be hidden up to 6 feet underground, without the need to put any shovels in the lawns and gardens surrounding the mid-18th-century building…


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