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Anthropology | Peter J. Mehringer

Ph.D., University of Arizona
Professor Emeritus

Research Interests

PETER J. MEHRINGER [Professor emeritus] is the 1979 winner of the Society for American Archaeology’s Roald Fryxell Award for Interdisciplinary Research. He served as a Fulbright-sponsored professor of history and archaeology at Northwest University, Xian, China in 1994 and as a Meyer Distinguished Professor at WSU from 1995-1997.

An archaeologist with a primary specialty in reconstructing past environments, Pete Mehringer holds degrees in zoology, biology, and geoscience (Ph.D., University of Arizona, 1968). After arriving at WSU in 1971, he conducted archaeological or paleoenvironmental research in the Southwest, Northern Rockies, Columbia Plateau, Northwest Coast, Great Basin, Egypt, Sudan, and Mesoamerica.

He taught General Anthropology (ANTH 101), America Before Columbus (ANTH 331), and graduate courses in palynology (emphasizing Quaternary vegetation and climate) (ANTH 576) and Prehistory of the Desert West (ANTH 546). He also directed our archaeology summer field school and taught in WSU’s World Civilizations program (GENED 110).

His interest in arid land late Pleistocene environments, stratigraphy and chronology, and their relation to human history, developed under the tutelage of Prof. Paul S. Martin and fellow graduate students at the University of Arizona. Interests in Clovis and Archaic cultures, archaeological sites preserved in dunes and Quaternary biogeography remain to this day. His introduction and interest in tephrochronology came after arriving at WSU. The Northwest experience with volcanic ashes proved crucial to his current paleoecological studies in Latin America.

Representative Publications

1996 Columbia River Basin Ecosystems: Late Quaternary Environments. U.S. Forest Service Columbia Basin Ecosystem Project, Walla Walla, WA.

1994 (with W. J. Cannon) Volcaniclastic Dunes of the Fort Rock Valley Oregon: Stratigraphy, Chronology, and Archaeology. In Archaeological Researches in the Northern Great Basin: Fort Rock Archaeology Since Cressman, edited by C. M. Aikens and D. L. Jenkins, pp. 283-327. University of Oregon Anthropological Papers 50. Eugene.

1990 (with F. F. Foit) Volcanic Ash Dating of the Clovis Cache at East Wenatchee, Washington. National Geographic Research 6:495-503.

1986 Prehistoric Environment. In Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 11: The Great Basin, edited by W. L. Azevedo, pp. 31-50, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

1988 Clovis cache found: Weapons of ancient Americans. National Geographic Magazine 174(4):500-503.

1986 (with P. E. Wigand) Holocene history of Skull Creek Dunes, Catlow Valley, Oregon, U.S.A. Journal of Arid Environments 11:117-138 .

1983 (with K. L. Petersen and C. E. Gustafson) Late glacial vegetation and climate at the Manis Mastodon Site, Olympic Peninsula, Washington. Quaternary Research20(2):215-231.

1976 (with C. N. Warren) Marsh, dune and archaeological chronology, Ash Meadows, Amargosa Desert, Nevada, pp. 120-150. In Holocene Environmental Change in the Great Basin, R. Elston (editor), Nevada Archaeological Survey Research Paper No. 6, University of Nevada, Reno.

1967 Pollen analysis of the Tule Springs site area, Nevada, pp. 129-200. InPleistocene Studies in Southern Nevada, H. M. Wormington and D. Ellis (editors),Nevada State Museum Anthropological Papers No. 13. Carson City, Nevada.

1965 (with C. V. Haynes) The pollen evidence for the environment of early man and extinct mammals at the Lehner mammoth site, southeastern Arizona. American Antiquity 31(1):17-23.


Recipient of the 2006 Rip Rapp Archaeological Geology Award awarded by The Geological Society of America.