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Anthropology headlines in CAS News

  • Pullman exhibit explains discovery and significance of 2,000-year-old tattoo tool

    The discovery of the oldest tattooing artifact in western North America earned a Washington State University PhD student international acclaim earlier this year from the likes of National Geographic, the Smithsonian, and the New York Times.

    Now, faculty, staff, and students have the opportunity to learn firsthand about the ancient implement and the Ancestral Pueblo people of Southeastern Utah who made it.

    Andrew Gillreath-Brown, an anthropology PhD candidate, created a small exhibit outside the WSU Museum of Anthropology explaining the 2,000-year-old cactus spine tattoo tool he chanced upon while taking inventory of archaeological materials that had been sitting in storage for more than 40 years.

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  • Who dominates the discourse of the past?

    Male academics, who comprise less than 10 percent of North American archaeologists, write the vast majority of the field’s high impact, peer-reviewed literature.

    That’s according to a new study in American Antiquity by Washington State University archaeologists Tiffany Fulkerson and Shannon Tushingham.

    The two scientists set out to determine how a rapidly evolving demographic and professional landscape is influencing the production and dissemination of knowledge in American archaeology.

    They found that women, who now make up half of all archaeologists in North America, and professionals working outside of a university setting, who account for 90 percent of the total workforce, were far less likely to … » More …

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  • Dear Dr. Universe: Why do we dance?

    If we traveled around the world, we would see all kinds of dancers. We might see classical ballerinas in Russia. We might see break dancers performing on the streets of New York. We might even see tango dancers in Argentina.

    While the exact reasons we dance remain a mystery, there are a few theories about it.

    That’s what I found out from my friend Ed Hagen, an anthropologist at Washington State University who has researched the roots of dance.

    In nature, we actually see a lot of animals dancing. It’s not just humans. Bees do a kind of waggle dance where they step … » More …

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  • Dr. Universe: How do you make mummies?

    When we think of mummies, we might imagine the kind from ancient Egypt wrapped up in linen. But there are lots of ways to make mummies—and they can even form in nature.

    That’s what I found out from my friend Shannon Tushingham, an archaeologist at Washington State University and director of the WSU Museum of Anthropology.

    In ancient Egypt, priests were usually in charge of making a mummy. They used a special hook to pull out the brain. They put the brain in a jar to help preserve it. They put the lungs, liver, intestines, and stomach in jars, too. But the heart was … » More …

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  • New data platform illuminates history of humans’ environmental impact

    The human environmental footprint is not only deep, but old.

    Ancient traces of this footprint can be found in animal bones, shells, scales and antlers at archaeological sites. Together, these specimens tell the millennia-long story of how humans have hunted, domesticated and transported animals, altered landscapes and responded to environmental changes such as shifting temperatures and sea levels.

    Now, that story is available digitally through a new open-access data platform known as ZooArchNet, which links records of animals across biological and archaeological databases.

    Making these specimen records accessible digitally helps provide a long-term perspective on current biodiversity crises, such as animal extinction and habitat loss, … » More …

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