Environmental Archaeology Lab alumna Emily Johnson, now a PhD student at UC Santa Barbara, is first author (with Marston) on an article just published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. This research is based on Emily's undergraduate honors thesis at BU, which received the Michael A. Sassano III and Christopher M. Sassano Award for Writing Excellence in the Social Sciences in 2017. The article identifies, for the first time, a direct archaeological marker of nixtamalization (the process of soaking maize in an alkaline solution to create hominy or masa, which is used to make tamales and tortillas). This is a practice that predates European arrival to the Americas, and while it the practice of nixtamalization is believed to have a deep history, there has never been a way to identify this practice directly until now. These modified starch particles should be able to be found in a variety of archaeological contexts, including ceramic vessels used to prepare nixtamal and grinding stones on which it was ground into flour. Congratulations to Emily on her first publication!
Fulbright Scholar and EA Lab alumna Sydney Hunter is highlighted for her current Master's work at the University of Liverpool. Her current research is focused on ancient environmental reconstruction using macroscopic plant remains with Professor Eleni Asouti in the Liverpool Archaeobotany Laboratory. Read the wonderful coverage of Sydney and her work on Liverpool's Department of Archaeology, Classics, and Egyptology Bio of Sydney Hunter. We have no doubt Sydney will continue to excel in her studies—well done, Sydney!
Our own Karen Stewart's latest contributions are now published in Post-Medieval Archaeology, exploring a well preserved assemblage of everyday material culture from late 15th to early 16th century London! Read the article by clicking here, and congratulations Karen!
A video highlighting collaborative research by Marston and laboratory alumna Sydney Hunter (CAS '19) was showcased on the cover of BU Today and BU's Research Publications outlet The Brink today! Learn how ancient plants can inform our understanding of ancient landscapes, focusing on a remarkable ancient pea recovered from the archaeological site of Sim-Ata 1 in western Uzbekistan, excavated in 2018 as part of the Khorezm Ancient Agriculture Project, directed by Dr. Elizabeth Brite. Find the story and The Brink's spectacular video here.
John Marston and Catherine West are co-authors on a paper published today in Science. The article is a reconsideration of the entire history of land use of the Earth. It was sourced by asking regional experts to contribute their areas of expertise and thus represents an expert consensus on land use histories. Marston and West are among those experts who contributed as authors. The primary finding of the article is that humans transformed some areas of the Earth more substantially at earlier dates than previously thought based on global simulations produced from paleoenvironmental evidence, and that environmental archaeological data may provide a better approach to reconstructing past land-use change than paleoenvironmental data alone.
Welcome to Evan McDuff, the newest member of the Environmental Archaeology Laboratory! Evander completed his MA in Classical Studies from Brandies in 2018 with his thesis entitled "The Potentiality of Phytoliths in the Study of Roman Spices". You can find his spirited science communication piece summarizing his work here. Evan will begin his doctoral program at BU in Anthropological Archaeology in September, working with Drs. Marston and West. Welcome, Evan!
The National Science Foundation Archaeology Program has funded the proposal “Spatial Analysis of State Agropastoral Economies”, which is directed by John M. Marston (Boston University, lead PI) and David Meiggs (Rochester Institute of Technology). Over the two-year award, Marston and Meiggs will conduct research to examine how societies manage sustainable agricultural production across the varied landscapes under their control. By integrating multiple isotopic techniques to study both plant and animal remains from the archaeological site of Gordion in central Turkey, the project will enable a new understanding of the dynamics of imperial agricultural strategies in the past, with implications for agricultural sustainability in the present day.
EA Laboratory Supervisor Kali Wade has published her first article, resulting from her MSc thesis work at the University of Edinburgh, with co-authors Lisa-Marie Shillito, John M. Marston, and Clive Bonsall. Read "Assessing the potential of phytolith analysis to investigate local environment and prehistoric plant resource use in temperate regions: a case study from Williamson’s Moss, Cumbria, Britain" in Environmental Archaeology: The Journal of Human Palaeoecology here. Congratulations Kali!
Congratulations to Prof. Marston, who has achieved tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Professor! Marston is a member of the Department of Anthropology and core faculty in the Archaeology Program, and is affiliated with the Biogeosciences and Medieval Studies programs. In addition to his research, teaching, and advising, Marston is the current Director of Graduate Studies for the Archaeology Program, co-editor of Ethnobiology Letters, and director of the Environmental Archaeology Laboratory. Congratulations Mac!
Congratulations to John (Mac) Marston, who has been awarded the Templeton Award for Excellence in Student Advising by the BU College of Arts and Sciences! This award honors the best of BU's educators, who exemplify deep and broad commitment, skill, effectiveness, impact, and leadership in teaching and is awarded through nominations from their students. You can see present and past winners of the award here. Well deserved Mac!