The program in archaeology emphasizes research and training in the prehistory of the Americas including Alaska, the Pacific Northwest from British Columbia to northern California, the Columbia Plateau, the Great Basin, the Pueblo societies of the Southwest, Mesoamerica, and the Andes.
Faculty research employs ceramic analysis, lithic analysis, paleoeconomic and paleoenvironmental approaches including geoarchaeology, zooarchaeology, micro- and macrobotanical analysis, as well as well as stable isotope analysis, archaeometry via gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and modelling and simulation. Students gain practical experience in methods through a group of laboratory training courses unique to WSU and are exposed to explanatory perspectives derived from evolutionary theory, agency and practice theory, and the study of complex adaptive systems.
Dr Rachel Horowitz is an anthropological archaeologist whose research examines ancient Maya economic organization and the role of different actors in these economic activities. She specializes in the study of lithic technology, using organizational approaches to link tool production to economic organization. Her current research combines ongoing investigations in western Belize and eastern Guatemala to develop a multi-sited perspective on Classic period Maya lithic economies. Through this analysis, she will provide a more comprehensive reconstruction of lithic economies and their variability in the Maya lowlands. By analyzing lithic production areas and the household assemblages from households of different socio-economic classes, this project provides a comprehensive overview of production and use activities and their role in broader economies.
Methodologically, her research draws on detailed analyses of lithic production activities and experimental archaeology. She is also beginning a sourcing project, which will attempt to explore chert source variability. WSU has dedicated spaces for replicative lithic experiments, including access to a wide variety of raw materials for production of lithic implements. Experimental use projects can also be performed in these spaces, and microscopes for use-wear analysis are available. Lithic analysis coursework in the department includes instruction on flintknapping.