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Anthropology headlines in CAS News

  • Scientists urge preparation for catastrophic climate change

    With the rapid, unprecedented pace of climate change, it is time to start seriously considering the worst-case scenarios, warns Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler.

    Kohler, an emeritus WSU professor of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, is part of an international team of climate experts that argue that although unlikely, climate change catastrophes, including human extinction, should be more heavily considered by scientists.

    He and his collaborators discuss how climate change could drive mass extinction events and propose a research agenda to investigate bad- to worst-case scenarios in a new commentary article published Aug. 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Tim Kohler
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  • Archaeologists identify contents of ancient Mayan drug containers

    “Normally, you are lucky if you find a jade bead.”

    Ancient Mayans have been a continuing source of inspiration for their monuments, knowledge, and mysterious demise. Now a new study discovers some of the drugs they used. For the first time, scientists found remnants of a non-tobacco plant in Mayan drug containers. They believe their analysis methods can allow them exciting new ways of investigating the different types of psychoactive and non-psychoactive plants used by the Maya and other pre-Colombian societies.

    The research was carried out by a team from Washington State University, led by anthropology postdoc Mario Zimmermann. They spotted residue of the Mexican marigold … » More …

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  • Serial Collapses of Ancient Pueblo Societies Offer a Stark Warning For Today’s World

    In the area where the Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexican borders now meet, ancestral Pueblo societies thrived and then collapsed several times, over the span of 800 years.

    Each time they recovered, their culture transformed. This shifting history can be seen in their pottery and the incredible stone and earth dwellings they created. During 300 of those years, some Pueblo peoples, who also used ink tattoos, were ruled by a matrilineal dynasty.

    As in the collapse of other ancient civilizations, ancestral Pueblo social collapses align with periods of changing climate – but Pueblo farmers often persevered through droughts, suggesting that there was more to … » More …

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  • Archaeology students aim to determine if Fort Vancouver National Historic Site was used for schools

    More than 20 college students kneeled in the warm July heat, sifting through small square holes in the freshly dug ground on the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, searching for nails, ceramic remnants and other relics from the past.

    Kaeli Stephens, an anthropology major from Washington State University Vancouver, said that she’s enjoyed the fact that the excavation is open to the public, where family and friends can walk up and ask questions about the work she loves doing.

    “Seeing women in STEM out here is so cool,” she said. “And I love when little girls walk by and say, ‘I want to be like … » More …

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  • Three projects receive $150,000 in final round of Cougar Cage event

    Three projects proposed by Washington State University researchers were awarded $50,000 each in this spring’s Cougar Cage event.

    Over the course of a day in Seattle, six faculty research projects were evaluated by the Palouse Club — a group of WSU alumni dedicated to supporting the university — in the culmination of the third semi-annual Cougar Cage event. The six projects were hand-selected by WSU leadership from a pool of 26 submissions representing WSU students, faculty, and staff from across the system.

    The selected projects include “Study of cannabis, human milk composition, and infant development,” led by Courtney Meehan, CAS associate dean for research and … » More …

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