Ph.D. Arizona State University 1981
M.A. Arizona State University 1976
B.A. CSU Long Beach 1974


Geoarchaeology , Archaic Hunter-Gathers, Publications

My research for the last 20 years has centered on geoarchaeology and Archaic hunter-gatherers  in the Midwest U.S.  I have worked primarily in Illinois and Indiana, with a recent focus on the lower Ohio River valley.


I have been particularly interested in reconstructing geomorphic landscapes in alluvial/colluvial settings in an effort to build predictive models of buried site potential and sampling strategies for the discovery of buried sites.  I have been examining the relationship between soil weathering properties and landforms as an estimator of alluvium age in the lower Ohio River valley.  Studies associated with the Argosy Casino Archaeological Project near Lawrenceburg, Indiana found a correlation between late Holocene alluvium and floodplain Mollisols (Stafford and Creasman 2002).  More recent work at the Caesars Archaeological Project has found a similar correlation and has in addition examined early Holocene soil/landform relationships.  I am currently analyzing the geomorphic and archaeological stratigraphy at the Caesars development, where a largely complete Holocene sequence is present, particularly with respect to the early part of the record (Stafford, 2004).

Given the volume of alluvium extent, especially in large river valleys like the Ohio River, I have also been evaluating strategies for detecting buried archaeological occupations (Stafford 1995).  Much of this work has focused on the use of microartifacts extracted from bucket-auger cores.  Results have suggested that this is an effective means of increasing the density of cultural remains and thus increasing the probability of discovering buried occupations.  It is also an efficient means of evaluating the archaeological stratigraphy of a deposit.

I have also been involved in evaluating a presumed large burial mound in Knox County, Indiana (Stafford 1998).  Although Sugar Loaf is very mound-like in shape, geomorphic analysis showed that it is a large late Wisconsin loess cone in which late prehistoric human remains were interred.  A model of eolian deposition was proposed to account for its mound-like shape. Such features were shown to be common along the lower Wabash were other thick loess cones were also used as cemeteries.


My interest in hunter-gatherers has centered on modeling the relationship between Archaic settlement-subsistence strategies and Holocene climate/vegetation changes over time (Stafford 1991, 1994, Stafford et al. 2000).  Of particular interest is the cause of reduced mobility from the Early Archaic to the late Middle Archaic and the apparent shift from a forager to a collector strategy.  In addition to work in the lower Illinois River valley, I have studied the distribution of Early and Middle Archaic hafted bifaces from a large-scale survey in southwestern Indiana and faunal data from the Bluegrass site, an upland late Middle Archaic base camp/cemetery in the same region. Currently, I am involved in the analysis of extensive buried remains from Early Archaic through Terminal Archaic occupations collected over a three year period from the Caesars Archaeological Project near New Albany, Indiana on the Ohio River. Of particular interest is an early to middle Holocene sequence that spans the period 10K to 6.8K rcybp, which includes Early Side Notch, Thebes/St Charles, Kirk Corner Notched and a previously unknown early Middle Archaic component (Knob Creek Complex).


1979 Some Issues Concerning the Design of Lithic Experiments (with B. Stafford). Lithic Technology 8(2):21-24.

1982 Quantification in American Archaeology: A Historical Perspective (with G.A. Clark). World Archaeology 14:98-119.

1983 The Functional Hypothesis: A Formal Approach to Use-Wear Experiments and Settlement-Subsistence (with B. Stafford). Journal of Anthropological Research 39:351-375.

1985 Data Transformations of Archaeological Variables: A Computer Assisted Graphic Approach. Advances in Computer Archaeology 2:38-51.

1986 Marion and Black Sand Occupations in the Sny Bottom of the Mississippi Valley (with D. Morgan and D. Asch). In Early Woodland Archeology, pp. 207-230, edited by K. Farnsworth and T. Emerson, Center for American Archeology, Kampsville Seminar Series 2.

1987 Settlement Strategies and Lithic Tool Recycling: Analysis of an Early Middle Archaic Occupation in the Lower Illinois Valley. In Coasts, Plains and Deserts: Papers in Honor of Reynold Ruppe , pp. 227-238. edited by S. Gaines. Arizona State University, Anthropological Research Paper 37.

1991 Archaic Period Logistical Foraging Strategies in West-Central Illinois. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, 16:212-246.

1992 Landscape Scale: Geoenvironmental Approaches to Prehistoric Settlement Strategies (with E. Hajic). In Space, Time, and Archaeological Landscapes, pp. 137-161, edited by J. Rossignol and L. Wandsnider. Plenum Press, New York.

1992 Prehistoric Settlement and Landscape Change on Alluvial Fans in the Upper Mississippi River Valley (with D. Leigh & D.Asch). Geoarchaeology 7:287-314.

1994 Structural Changes in Archaic Landscape Use in the Dissected Uplands of Southwestern Indiana. American Antiquity 59:219-237.

1995 Geoarchaeologcial Perspectives on Paleolandscapes and Regional Subsurface Archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 2:64-104.

1997 Prehistoric Peoples of Indiana. In Natural Heritage of Indiana, edited by M. Jackson. pp. 360-367. Indiana University Press.

1998 The Geomorphology of Sugar Loaf Mound: Prehistoric Cemeteries and the Formation of Loess Cones in the Lower Wabash Valley. Geoarchaeology 13:649-672.

2000 The Bluegrass Fauna and Changes in Middle Holocene Hunter-gatherer Foraging in the Southern Midwest (with R.Richards and C.M. Anslinger). American Antiquity 65:317-336.

2000 The Geoarchaeology of the Great Miami River Confluence, Southeastern Indiana: A Reevaluation. Indiana State University, Department of Geography, Geology and Anthropology, Professional Papers No. 21.

2002 The Hidden Record: Late Holocene Landscapes and Settlement Archaeology in the Lower Ohio River Valley (with S. Creasman). Geoarchaeology: 17:117-140.

2004 Modeling Soil-Geomorphic Associations and Archaic Stratigraphic Sequences in the Lower Ohio River Valley.  Journal of Archaeological Science 31:1053-1067.


last updated 09/08/2006