We are a group of archaeologists studying human-environmental interactions in the past.
Our research is grounded in ecological theory and we address questions of environmental and social impacts of domestication, food acquisition strategies, adaptations to shifting natural and social environments, and demographic change.
Sarah B. McClure, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Director, Mediterranean Prehistory and Palaeoecology Laboratory
co-Director, Zooarchaeology Laboratory
I am an environmental archaeologist and I study the environmental and social impacts of the spread of agriculture worldwide, but my work focuses primarily on early farming in the Mediterranean and Europe 8000-5000 years ago. I joined the Department of Anthropology at UCSB in 2019. Prior to this I was first an Assistant and then Associate Professor in Anthropology at Penn State and an Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon. I am a Santa Barbara boomerang: I completed my doctoral studies here in 2004 and am excited to be back!
The origins and spread of farming during the Holocene were a turning point for human-environmental interaction, health, nutrition, disease, and increasing social complexity. My research centers on the social and ecological impacts and legacies of early farming populations that have implications for today’s issues of the adaptability and resilience of small-scale farming and biodiversity under shifting environmental, climatic, and demographic conditions. I approach the transition to agriculture comparatively by studying two main areas: the gateway to European agriculture in the eastern Adriatic (Dalmatia, Croatia); and impacts of early farming in the arid western Mediterranean (Valencia, Spain). See below for more info on these projects. In recent years I have also begun to expand this work to historic contexts, particularly in the eastern US with Dr. Martin Welker, and more recently in California.
Nicholas Triozzi, M.A.
I focus on landscape archaeology, ecological niche construction, life history strategies of agro-pastoral societies, human-environment interactions, place formation, decision making, navigation, and computational analytics. My dissertation research focuses on the relationship between resource availability and predictability under shifting agricultural and pastoral subsistence behaviors during the Neolithic in the Eastern Adriatic. In 2021-2022 I am residing in the city of Zadar on the Dalmatian Coast as a Fulbright Scholar where I am collecting data related to my dissertation research.
Hugh Radde, M.A.
I am a zooarchaeologist with research interests in human-environment dynamics, paleoecology, and ichthyology. My current work focuses on human settlement and subsistence on the California Channel Islands.
Shayla Monroe, PhD.
I use zooarchaeology to address three broad research emphases: African pastoralism (past and present), pastoralist/non-pastoralist relations in the ancient Nile Valley, and the role of animals in Nile Valley ritual practice. As fauna analysts working in Sudan are rare, I have had the opportunity to work on a wide array of projects and archaeological contexts. My dissertation examined the relationship between cattle pastoralism and colonialism at the ancient border of Egypt and Nubia using domestic cattle bones recovered at the Second Cataract fortress of Askut (cs. 1850-1550 BC).
Michael Jochim, Ph.D
I am continuing my research on the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic of central Europe, particularly in southwestern Germany. Two new articles are currently in press, one examining the intrasite patterning of four Mesolithic sites in Germany, the other on the late- and postglacial colonization of the Alps, comparing these processes between the north (Germany and Switzerland) and the south (Italy). Another article, currently submitted, investigates how postglacial adaptations in southern Germany and Switzerland led to a feedback loop resulting in niche construction.
We have a range of projects we are working on in Spain, Croatia, California, and Sudan
McClure has been working on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia with Emil Podrug (Šibenik City Museum) since 2008. By excavating sites, working on existing collections, and using innovative technologies, we are helping to define the nature and timing of early farming societies in the eastern Adriatic region.
Check out our work on the earliest cheese in the Mediterranean, and stay tuned for more discoveries on nature of farming practices and their implications for long-term sustainability.
Krivače and Ostravica Paleolake
Recent excavation and coring by our collaborative team has demonstrated the existance of a paleolake next to the Neolithic site of Krivače. This lake dates back 11,000 years and dried up around 4000 years ago. Pollen and other markers from lake cores provide an environmental record that gives us the unique opportunity to study the effects of early farming on the environment.
Mesolithic and Neolithic in Spain: Cueva de la Cocina
McClure has been working with colleagues at the University of Valencia in Spain since 1998. Most recently she co-directs with Oreto García Puchol and J. Juan Cabanilles a re-evaluation of Cueva de la Cocina, a Mesolithic-Neolithic transition period site in eastern Spain. The site was extensively excavated in the 1940s and 1970s, but much of the material was never analyzed. This is an amazing site with thousands of stone tools, art in the form of engraved stone slabs (plaquettes), food debris, and human remains. Important for models of the transition to agriculture in the western Mediterranean, this site is proving itself to be an incredible document of the region's last hunter-gatherers prior to the arrival of farming.
Cova de la Pastora, Spain
Oreto García Puchol and McClure directed excavations at the site of Cova de la Pastora in 2007-2008. This site is a mass burial site with the remains of over 70 individuals interred with numerous grave goods. Excavated in the 1940s, it was long thought to be evidence of the emergence of social inequality during the Late Neolithic. Our research has shown, however, that the cave was in use over a much longer period of time and that there was no indication of a special status of individuals.
Agricultural Risk and Sustainability in Neolithic Dalmatia
Triozzi is beginning his doctoral research looking at risk and Neolithic farming strategies on the Dalmatian coast using a combination of excavation, stable isotopes, ecological modeling, and AMS radiocarbon dating. As a Fulbright Scholar, he is spending the current academic year in Dalmatia to work with colleagues at the University of Zadar to excavate several Neolithic period sites and complete zooarchaeological analyses. During his residency he will be visiting local museums to obtain additional animal bone and teeth samples for stable isotope and AMS radiocarbon analyses. His dissertation, titled “Herding is Risky Business” will examine how subsistence agro-pastoralists minimized risk by adapting their domesticated animal management strategies to local ecological conditions. His research looks at these strategies across a 2,000 year period and will assess the degree to which innovative technologies related to food production influence the decisions a subsistence farmer will make to meet their subsistence needs. This project is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Archaeological Institute of America-Orange County Chapter, and the Register of Professional Archaeologists.
Coastal California and the Channel Islands
Radde's dissertation research takes an interdisciplinary approach to address fundamental questions in archaeology such as why intensive fishing economies emerge and how cultural innovations materialize in variable environments. He combines zooarchaeological data, modern intertidal ecological data, and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis to investigate how and why people adapt from subsistence strategies that emphasize shellfish collecting toward one which people were increasingly fishing. The study utilizes extant, unanalyzed museum collections from multiple archaeological sites that cover the last 7000 years of Native history on Catalina Island, California and attests to the invaluable data available in museum collections.
Human-Animal Interactions in the Nile Valley
Monroe will make her sixth trip to Sudan to serve as zooarchaeologist for the site at Old Dongola where archaeologists are investigating the settlement’s transition to Islam. Her goal for the next two years is to integrate excavated faunal data from Abu Fatima, Kawa, and Old Dongola into to a broader study of pastoralism and political ecology of the ancient Middle Nile Valley. Subsequently, she aim to collaborate with archaeologists and ethnographers in other parts of the Saharan-Sahelian belt in order to pursue a diachronic look at pastoralism and climate change across the African continent.
Mediterranean Prehistory and Paleoecology
Faunal Lab - Anthropology Department
We are so lucky to have many students come through the lab. Here's a selection of our alumni.
We are proud of you!
Martin Welker, PhD.
Martin is an anthropological archaeologist, specializing in zooarchaeology. His research focuses on understanding human-environmental interaction, domestic animal management, and roles played by domesticates in human societies.
Emily Zavodny, PhD.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology,
University of Central Florida
Emily is an environmental archaeologist specializing in zooarchaeology, bioarchaeology, and isotope geochemistry. Her research investigates how prehistoric human and animal populations successfully adapted to uncertainty and risk posed by marginal landscapes, resource scarcity, and/or changing climate and environments. She is additionally interested in how studying past resilience, sustainability, and biodiversity can help us approach present-day social and environmental problems.
Melissa Teoh, M.A.
Bonneville Power Authority, Portland, Oregon
Melissa is a socially engaged archaeologist who is interested in increasing public engagement and understanding of archaeology, cultural resource protection, and Native histories and rights.
Paige Lynch, M.A.
Department of Anthropology
University of New Mexico
Check out these great institutions and associations our lab members are affiliated with: