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Anthropology | John Blong

John C. Blong
Ph.D., Texas A&M University
Assistant Professor

Research Interests

Hunter-gatherer adaptations and landscape use, peopling of the Americas, precontact history of Alaska, the Great Basin, and the Columbia Plateau, environmental archaeology, geoarchaeology, paleoethnobotany, lithic analysis


Current Research

I am an environmental archeologist. My research examines the interaction between hunter-gatherers and the environment in precontact North America, with a focus on the settlement of the Americas and human use of marginal ecosystems. My broad research goal is to investigate initial human adaptation to the varied ecological landscapes across North America, and human response to subsequent environmental change. I am committed to engagement with descendant communities with ties to the landscapes I study and building collaborative research with benefits to both academic and descendent communities.


I have conducted research across North America and Siberia. I have active field research programs in Alaska, the Great Basin, and the Columbia Plateau, where I study human use of marginal upland and arid environments and how this informs on the process of human settlement of the Americas. My research is grounded in archaeological science; I use geoarchaeological and paleoecological methods to provide environmental context for interpreting past human behavior, and lithic artifact and paleoethnobotanical analyses to investigate human subsistence strategies and land-use patterns. I seek general explanations for human behavior from an adaptive perspective. I encourage students interested in pursuing field and laboratory-based MA and PhD projects in Alaska, the Great Basin, and the Columbia Plateau to contact me to discuss applying to our program.

Selected Publications


2023    Blong, John C. Middle Holocene lithic technological organization and upland land use in the upper Susitna River basin, Alaska. Lithic Technology 1-23.

2023    Blong, John C., Helen L. Whelton, Eline N. van Asperen, Ian D. Bull, Lisa-Marie Shillito. Sequential biomolecular, macrofossil, and microfossil extraction from coprolites for reconstructing past behavior and environments. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution: Paleoecology 11:1–14.

2023    Holcomb, Justin A., Aayush Srivastava, Timothy C. Kinnaird, John C. Blong. Revisiting Kelly Forks (10CW34): Current and Future Research at a Western Stemmed Tradition Occupation in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, Idaho. PaleoAmerica 9(1):76­–80.

2022    Blong, John C. Lithic Landscape of the Upper Susitna River Basin, Central Alaska Range. Alaska Journal of Anthropology 20(1&2):130–142.

2022    Blong, John C. Prehistoric Landscape Use in the Central Alaska Range: Lithic Analysis Dataset from the Upper Susitna River Basin, Alaska. Journal of Open Archaeology Data 10(5):1–7.

2021    Blong, John C., Lisa-Marie Shillito. Coprolite research: archaeological and paleoenvironmental potentials. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 13(5):1–7.

2020    Blong, John C., Martin E. Adams, Gabriel Sanchez, Dennis L. Jenkins, Ian D. Bull, Lisa-Marie Shillito. Younger Dryas and early Holocene subsistence in the northern Great Basin: multiproxy analysis of coprolites from the Paisley Caves, Oregon, USA. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 12(224):1-29.

2020    Shillito, Lisa-Marie, John C. Blong, Eleanor J. Green, Eline N. van Asperen. The what, how and why of human coprolite analysis in archaeology. Earth-Science Reviews 207(103196):1-21

2020    Shillito, Lisa-Marie, Helen L. Whelton, John C. Blong, Dennis L. Jenkins, Thomas J. Connolly, Ian D. Bull. Pre-Clovis occupation of the Americas identified by human faecal biomarkers in coprolites from Paisley Caves, Oregon. Science Advances 6(eaba6404):1–8.

2019    Blong, John C. Regional Stratigraphy and Human Occupation of the Upper Susitna River Basin, Central Alaska Range. Geoarchaeology 34(4):380-399.

2018    Blong, John C. Late-Glacial Hunter-Gatherers in the Central Alaska Range and the Role of Upland Ecosystems in the Peopling of Alaska. PaleoAmerica 4(2):103–133.





Contact Information

College Hall 202
TEL: 509-335-7406