Current News and Events

UAF’s Newest Archaeologist Tammy Buonasera just published a paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports!

August 14th 2023


Ash and black char samples from seven combustion features at CA-ALA-11, an Early to Middle Period (ca. 2500 cal BCE to 585 cal CE) shellmound site on the San Francisco Bay shoreline, were analyzed for lipid, isotope, and phytolith content. Three features were intermingled with human burials and four were from nearby contexts not directly associated with human remains. Unlike more fragile biomolecules and floral remains, lipids and phytoliths can survive exposure to high temperatures. Together, these techniques supply independent and complementary lines of data for considering past cultural practices, local ecology, and post-depositional contributions. Our results shed light on the function and content of several combustion features, highlighting the untapped potential of such applications in the archaeology of California and elsewhere in North America. We focus on two combustion features with very different purposes. One appears to be the burnt remains of a basket (or possibly, a woven mat) coated with bitumen. This feature was associated with a burial and the basket or other woven object may have been burned as part of the funerary ceremony. Another feature, not directly associated with a burial, was composed of burned oyster shells and layered with leaves from a broadleaf tree—seemingly the remains of an ancient cooking feature for baking/steaming shellfish. Though small, this study demonstrates that analysis of sediments from combustion features can provide behavioral and ecological insights while avoiding destructive analysis of artifacts or human remains. We conclude with simple recommendations for integrating phytolith and lipid analysis of combustion features in future archaeological projects.

UAF archaeologists, led by Dr. Ben Potter, publish a new paper in Science Advances!  

June 6th 2023

UAF archaeologists, led by Dr. Ben Potter, publish a new paper in Science Advances!

While freshwater and anadromous fish have been critical economic resources for late prehistoric and modern Native Americans, the origin and development of fishing is not well understood. We document the earliest known human use of freshwater and anadromous fish in North America by 13,000 and 11,800 years ago, respectively, from primary anthropogenic contexts in central Alaska (eastern Beringia). Fish use appears conditioned by broad climatic factors, as all occurrences but one are within the Younger Dryas chronozone. Earlier Bølling-Allerød and later early Holocene components, while exhibiting similar organic preservation, did not yield evidence of fishing, suggesting that this was a response to changing environmental factors, perhaps reductions in higher ranked resources such as large terrestrial mammals. Late Pleistocene and recent Indigenous peoples harvested similar fish taxa in the region (salmon, burbot, whitefish, and pike). We characterize late Pleistocene fishing in interior Beringia as an important element of broad-spectrum foraging rather than the intensive communal fishing and storage common among recent peoples.

Anthropology Colloquium:  Understanding the Unthinkable: Applying Anthropology of Art in the Era of Russian Fascism

April 21th 2023


Igor Pasternak and Sveta Yamin-Pasternak
As researchers with lifelong close ties in Ukraine and decades-long
close ties in the Russian Arctic, we are deeply and complexly affected by Russia's "dual genocide” - in Ukraine (through violence and war) and within its own borders (through the disproportionate targeting of Indigenous People by means of mobilization and misinformation). This colloquium focuses on the role of anthropology of art in helping understand what seemed unthinkable just a little over a year ago, before Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022.

Anthropology Colloquium: Indus Tradition Trade & Technology: New Insights from Harappa, Mesopotamia & the Gulf Region

April 7th 2023


Dr. J. Mark Kenoyer

Professor of Archaeology

Department of Anthropology

University of Wisconsin

Ongoing analysis of raw materials and finished objects at Harappa provide new evidence for the presence of long distance trade networks during the Upper Palaeolithic and Neolithic periods. These networks were still in place during the initial agro-pastoral settlement of Harappa (>3700-2800 BCE).

The development of specialized crafting of marine shell ornaments, stone beads and seals at Harappa during the subsequent Kot Diji and Harappa Phases will be discussed along with the links to more distant resource areas and trade partners. A comparison with stone beads and other objects found at Gulf sites in Oman and Mesopotamia  will be included to highlight the complex patterns of craft production that yield clues into the nature of these early exchanges.

Watch the replay here

University of Alaska Fairbanks Anthropology MA Student Amelia Jansen presents her research at the 88th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Portland, OR.

Amelia presented her MA thesis research alongside thousands of researchers from around the world.  Her efforts were funded through a grant by the UAF Graduate School.

Congratulations Amelia!

Jansen, A

Title: Zooarchaeological Analysis of Alaskan Gold Rush Sites

The current accumulation of archaeological investigations at far-north Alaskan Gold Rush sites either completely lack or severely underrepresent the zooarchaeological components at these sites. This data is vital and adds context to past and future archaeological investigations by enabling more accurate and inclusive interpretations of life in the mining-related settlements of the far north. This research is an analysis of previously unidentified and partially identified faunal assemblages from Gold Rush-era archaeological sites in interior Alaska. These sites include Coldfoot, Barnette Street (Fairbanks), Tofty, Wiseman, Eagle, and Uhler Creek Cabin. I use the data I generate from the analyses of these diverse sites and site types to determine how animals were being utilized by the residents of differing mining-related settlements. By comparing sites of different sizes and purposes I identify how domesticated and wild animals were differentially utilized in various places and circumstances. This complements analyses previously completed on trade goods at these historical sites while informing upon localized (wild) resource use. A formal study of these dynamics has not been completed leaving a large gap in our understanding of human-environmental interaction in far north mining-related settlements.

ANTHROPOLOGY COLLOQUIUM: Residential Mobility, Place of Origin, Causes and Identity in the Northern Maya Lowlands in Prehistoric Times

March 31, 2023


Dr. Andrea Cucina

Professor of Anthropology

Facultad de Cienias Antropológicas

Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, MEXICO

This presentation focuses on residential mobility, through isotope analyses, in Prehispanic Maya populations in the Northern Maya lowlands during Classic and Postclassic times. Results from nine human collections indicate that, on average, nearly 20% of people may be considered non-local. Though potential places of origins are variable, most were born within the Northern or Central Lowlands; only a few originated from outside of the Lowlands. Migration to the coast largely occurred from inland places, for few coastal dwellers appear to have moved to inland centers. The fact that non-locals were almost equally distributed by sex, and included infants and children indicate that residential mobility was not only related to trading activities, but that a much wider range of reasons served as push factors. Indeed, mortuary contexts suggest non-locals may have been considered community members rather than “outsiders.”

Funded by CONACYT grant 2017A1-S-10037.


Anthropology Colloquium - Çatalhöyük: The Bioarchaeology of an Early Farming Society in Transition

 March 24, 2023
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Dr. Clark Spencer Larsen;
Distinguished University Professor;
Department of Anthropology;
The Ohio State University;

The bioarchaeological record of human remains viewed in the context of ecology, subsistence, and living circumstances provides a fundamental resource for interpreting the impact of plant and animal domestication in the late Pleistocene and early/middle Holocene. For Western Asia, Çatalhöyük (7400-600 cal BC) in central Anatolia, presents a comprehensive, contextualized setting for interpreting living conditions in this highly dynamic period of human history.

Employing demography, biogeochemistry, biomechanics, growth and development, and palaeopathology, this talk focuses on addressing the question:

What were the implications of farming and agricultural intensification, increasing sedentism, and population growth for health and lifestyle in this early farming community?

Watch the Replay Here

The Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and Linguistics Department Present: Mothering through trauma in the protection from abuse interview

March 20, 2023


Please join the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and Linguistics Departments at UAF in welcoming Dr. Shonna Trinch of the Department of Anthropology, CUNY, John Jay College

Dr. Trinch will present: Mothering through trauma in the protection from abuse interview

Family violence perpetrated by one intimate-partner against another that involves children becomes an overarching relationship where the rationale and tacit understandings of family- and legal-interviewing break down. Yet, culture’s over-reliance of these categorization and conversation devices to make relationships jive with their socially meaningful referents (i.e., mother, father, child as well as interviewer/interviewee) causes institutional actors to confuse women’s actual agency of moral stance-taking with a broken agency that makes them appear either uncooperative or damaged. The site for this analysis is the legal interview where women seek court orders, known as protection from abuse orders. Using the interviews of five women, I will show data suggesting that when women’s narratives are not replete with the preferred answers paralegals seek to do their work of documenting physical violence, interactional trouble arises. But rather than suggesting the women are deficient in their answers, the data suggest interviewers are missing or refusing to ratify the ways in which women contest and challenge the moral order of family and legal interviewing to make a claim for their own logic or mothering. I will discuss the consequences for women in abusive relationships when institutional actors and lay people alike cannot recognize women’s responses to violence as strategic moves to keep themselves and their children from harm.


Feb 17, 2023

Anthropology Ph.D. student Gabriela Olmos Rosas awarded a 2023-24 Alaska INBRE Graduate Research Assistantship!



We are so excited to announce that Gabriela has just been awarded a 2023-24 Alaska INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) Graduate Research Assistantship! Her study is titled "Testimonios de dulzura y dolor (Testimonials of sweetness and pain): The Social Context of Diabetes for Mexican Immigrants in Alaska."

We are incredibly proud of Gabriela's ongoing success and of this project, not only for what it means to Gabriela personally and professionally, but also for what it will mean for (and create with) the Mexican community in Anchorage and potentially other immigrant communities in Alaska.

Feb 27, 2023

Blackfoot Early Origins: Community-based Paleoindian Archaeology

Bunnell 313, UAF Troth Yeddha' Campus and Zoom
1:15 - 3:15 p.m.
Dr. Joseph Dupris


Visiting Assistant Professor of Native American and lndigienous Studies /Linguistics, University of Colorado


Archaeologists and Native communities strongly differ and often conflict in how to approach the deep past. At long time scales both parties tend to disregard the potential contributions that knowledge from the other side may provide, as well as distrust potential political interpretations of the findings. The Blackfoot ancestral territory, at the southern end of the lce-Free Corridor, is one such place where archaeological discourses about repeated episodes of dispersal during the settlement of North America have tended to alienate Native communities. The Blackfoot Early Origins project is a collaboration between tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology at the University of Arizona University of Arizona to provide a more inclusive way to approach the deep past and meet both stakeholders' agendas. Research questions target testing long-standing dispersal hypotheses but in a way that contributes to forging the Blackfoot identity, and can be appropriated by the tribes as part of traditional knowledge that may be taught to future generations.

For Zoom access please email Dr. Robin Shoaps


Feb 27, 2023

Chukchi Communities of the Bering Strait Region, a Hundred Years after Bogoras

   Bunnell 302, UAF Troth Yeddha' Campus and Zoom
   10:00 a.m.
PhD Dissertation Defense by Eduard Zdor 


The Chukchi are the Indigenous people of the farthest northeastern part of Eurasia, nowadays called Chukotka. It happens that, at the dawn of the 20th century, Chukchi culture became the focus of a landmark publication The Chukchee, authored by a luminary Russian ethnographer Waldemar Bogoras. Produced as part of the special series Publications of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, this voluminous monograph, overwhelmingly, continues to be a go-to resource to learn about the Chukchi customs, spiritual beliefs, material culture, and way of life. As an Indigenous Chukchi scholar who, to my knowledge, is the first of my people to be earning a doctorate degree in anthropology, I find it valuable to present a contemporary ethnographic portrait of the Chukotkan communities, drawn from my lived experience and the field research conducted a little over a century past the time of Bogoras. Featuring insights from several towns and villages, this dissertation focuses mostly on the Chukchi communities of Neshkan and Enurmino located on the Arctic Coast of Chukotka. Traditional subsistence continues to beаgreat factor in shaping the identity and worldview of the Neshkan and Enurmino residents. Subsistence, however, is not the only source of influence that builds the sociocultural pattern of these communities. Today's Chukchi are complexly integrated within a global society that permeates even seemingly the most remote and isolated settlements with information technologies. The clash of influences gives rise to a complex pattern of human passions and life goals. Exploring the socio-economic, spiritual, and other cultural dimensions of contemporary Chukchi life, my research converges on the question: what are the modern-day Chukchi communities? By what means do these social units sustain a strong sense of distinct cultural identity as their members adapt to globalizing influences and environmental changes? Such questions are broadly applicable across social and historical contexts and offer fruitful grounds for considering anthropological theories of adaptation and culture in the largest sense.

Please contact Dr. Sveta Yamin-Pasternak to request the zoom link.

Feb 17, 2023

Black History Month Colloquium with Cultural Anthropologist M.C. MoHagani Magnetek

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Join us for M.C. MoHagani’s dynamic colloquium in honor of Black History Month! “My objective as a Cultural Anthropology PhD student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is to take my dissertation, which I envision as ethnographic at its core, from solely a text document to both a web-based and a museum-based exhibition that shines light on the historical, cultural, and artistic
contributions of African Americans in Alaska. These contributions range from artifacts located in historic archaeological records,
ethnographic oral narrative collections, and archives of African American life in Alaska. My overarching goal is to produce an
impactful study for the future of African American Cultural Anthropology as a whole.”

Feb. 17- 3:00-5:00pm;Potluck: 5:00-7:00pm; BUNNELL 302 or ZOOM

The UAF Anthropological Society, UAF Department of Anthropology, and Perseverance Theatre are proud to welcome M.C. MoHagani Magnetek as a Guest Speaker in honor of Black History Month and World Anthropology Day 2023. Join us for MoHagani’s talk in person or over zoom and stay for the department potluck with other anthropology enthusiasts! Bring a dish or just bring yourself. FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, ALL ARE WELCOME!

If you have any questions or would like the zoom information, please contact the UAF Anthropological Society at:


Feb, 13 2023

UAF Anthropology PhD student, Gabriela Olmos Rosas, accepted to the 2023 NSF Cultural Anthropology Methods Program (CAMP)!

 Gabriela Olmos Rosas

This is a highly competitive national program (only 20 CAMP Fellows are accepted each year) that provides comprehensive methods training to Ph.D. students in cultural anthropology. Please join us in congratulating Gabriela!

Jan 12, 2023

Two Anthropology students, Brooke Fisher and Meredith McMahon, were selected for 2023 URSA Spring Project Awards! These awards will help fund their anthropological research projects in 2023.

  Meredith McMahon (left) and Brooke Fisher (right)

Meredith McMahon (advised by Dr. Robin Shoaps)

Meredith’s project titled “Language, Gender and Power in a “Gentlemen’s Club”: A linguistic anthropological study” examines how erotic dancers craft the interactional personae they sell to customers and how these performances respond to power dynamics in their workplace. It will draw from ethnographic research and discourse analysis of interviews with dancers and staff at a local gentlemen's club.


Brooke Fisher (advised by Dr. Brian Hemphill)

Brooke’s project is focused on the the Bodo, a Tibeto-Burman-speaking ethnic group found north of the Brahmaputra valley in Arunachal Pradesh, India. Investigation into the relationship between Bodos and other ethnic groups conducted under an URSA Mentor Award failed to find any affinities between the Bodos and the comparative groups throughout South Asia considered. Introduction of another comparative sample, the Nyishi, who reside north of the Brahmaputra Valley and are also part of the Tibeto-Burman language group, may bridge this gap. A biodistance analysis will be conducted based on the mesiodistal and buccolingual diameters of the permanent tooth crown obtained from diestone casts collected from post-secondary student volunteers with informed consent as per UAF IRB approval (No. 638167-2). Right and left side measurements will be tested for comparability with paired samples t-test and standardized against the geometric mean by sex. These measurements will then undergo a series of univariate tests to whether they are normally distributed and have the homogeneity of variance that permit use of multivariate parametric data reduction techniques appropriate for biodistance analysis.

Nov 18, 22

UAF PhD student, Sarah Elmore-Hernandez, has been awarded the Dissertation Completion Fellowship by the UAF Graduate School for Spring 2023 semester.

Sarah Elmore-Hernandez

The award includes 6 credits of tuition, $7500 stipend, and graduate student health insurance for spring and summer. Sarah is a PhD Candidate in the Interdisciplinary Studies program at UAF with her departmental home in Anthropology. Her research examines the intersection of gender and politics in Guam, including the study of gendered expectations toward indigenous CHamoru women, who currently compose a majority of official positions in Guam’s government. Congratulations Sarah!