Bioarchaeology

PAST PROJECTS

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Students working in the field at Kampsville, Illinois

This project currently focuses on establishing  burial programs and inferring ritual liturgies at the archaeological sites at the base of the lower Illinois River valley.

Dr Brenda Baker

This three-year project looks at the evolving identity of the region's past peoples and population movement in the area through the survey and excavation of ancient burial sites in the Fourth Cataract region of Sudan, as well as the study of recovered remains.

Mother and son with oxen

The Archaeology of the Human Experience (AHE) asks archaeologists to consider what it was really like to live in the past that they study, and to understand the people who populated that past as fellow human beings. At this project’s heart is the desire to look beyond past people’s decisions to understand why those decisions were made.

Blood collection tubes

This project examines the co-evolution of humans and our pathogens using an anthropological perspective that incorporates both evolutionary time depth, and short-term individual and species histories.

TB stain

This research addresses the issue of tuberculosis evolution in the Americas through the study of skeletal collections from throughout the Western Hemisphere, including those held at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). 

Sea lion on rocks

This project will provide insight into the process by which pathogens adapt to new hosts and the impact of human migration and interaction on the spread of pathogens in the past. Researchers will test the hypothesis that prehistoric TB in the Americas was caused by strains in the M. tuberculosis group or complex (specifically strains found in seals and sea lions) that “jumped” into humans and then spread from human to human, moving north from South America into Central and North America via trade routes.

TB mycobacterium

The goal of this project is to analyze ancient DNA from skeletal samples dating before, during and after the “Age of Exploration” that show evidence of tubercular bone lesions and integrate these data with those of modern strains of tuberculosis to assess the evolutionary history of tuberculosis and its effects on human history.