This multidisciplinary field of study that combines anthropological theory with methods from the social and natural sciences to illuminate the intersection between cultural, environmental and biological systems as they existed in the past. In this department we focus on: 1) diet, disease, and demography, 2) paleoanthropology and ecology, 3) social, economic and political organization and change. Ancient biological and cultural remains are analysed using traditional and modern scientific techniques (DNA, chemical, imaging, survey).
Faculty working in this core research area are:
Ian Colquhoun - My backgrounds in primate evolutionary biology and primate socioecology provide comparative frames of reference for bioarchaeological analysis and reconstruction, especially in regards to environmental and ecological interpretations. I am involved in interdisciplinary research here at Western as a member of the Paleoradiology Research Group, which has included Egyptian mummy bioarchaeological research.
Chris Ellis - I am an archaeologist who specializes in the analysis of stone tools and manufacturing debris, usually the only material preserved on ancient sites. Theoretically, I have focused my attention on trying to devise new ways of using these tool and debris collections to enhance our documentation and understanding of past human lifestyles and especially in finding out about group mobility, land use patterns and the social dynamics of non-agricultural (e.g. hunting and gathering) peoples. Geographically, I have focused on Ontario and more broadly, the Great Lakes area, with a particular focus on the time prior to 3000 years ago. However, I have taught courses, carried out archaeological fieldwork, written/edited papers and books, and supervised graduate student research, on the whole archaeological record up to and including sites occupied by Europeans.
Lisa Hodgetts - My research applies zooarchaeological techniques (the study of animal bones from archaeological sites) to gain a better understanding of past human groups. I am particularly interested in the role of food as part of the broader cultural landscape. How does the capture and consumption of animals serve to both influence and express human social life? I work at a variety of geographic and temporal scales to reconstruct trends in diet, prey selection, mobility, and social organization in order to address important archaeological questions about Arctic and Sub-Arctic hunter-gatherers. Other recent work has focused on food and the construction of identity at an early English colony in Newfoundland.
Jean-François Millaire - As an archaeologist specializing in the Andean region of South America, my primary research interests lie in early complex societies of the Peruvian littoral. My work focuses on issues related to Prehispanic socio-political organization, settlement patterns, ritual practice, ancient technologies — especially ancient and contemporary textile production — and on the integration of GIS in archaeology. I am presently developing a research program to investigate the nature of early state formation and early urbanization along the north coast of Peru, which will focus on the polity that ruled over the Virú Valley during the Early Intermediate period (c. 200 BC-AD 800).
Faculty and students have access to extensive laboratory facilities and equipment.