• Mediterranean Prehistory and Paleoecology Laboratory


    Department of Anthropology

    University of California, Santa Barbara






    Archaeology. Ecology.



  • Welcome!

    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.

  • People

    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.

    Ph.D. student

    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.

    Hugh Radde, M.A.

    Ph.D. student

    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.

    Michael Jochim, Ph.D

    Professor emeritus

    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.

  • Projects

    We have a range of projects we are working on in Spain, Croatia, and California

    Neolithic Dalmatia


    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 recent 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.

    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. More info coming soon!

    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.

    Coastal California and the Channel Islands

    More info coming soon...

    Great dissertation research by Radde on Catalina Island along with faunal work at several ancient and historic sites in the region. Stay tuned!

  • Spaces

    Mediterranean Prehistory and Paleoecology

    HSSB 1029

    • Comparative collections focused on Mediterranean species, mostly mammals
    • Ceramic analysis tools
    • Computing, GIS, and standard analytical capabilities
    • Dedicated work spaces and open benchtop areas
    • Lab manual library
    • Teleconference set up (coming soon!)
    • Direct access to outdoor processing space

    Faunal Lab - Anthropology Department

    HSSB 1013

    • The UCSB Faunal lab houses comparative skeletal collections, mostly of mammal, fish, and bird species found in North America 
    • General research and teaching space for undergrads, grad students, and faculty
    • Basic analytical capabilities
    • Open bench space for analysis
    • Houses the Walker Teaching Collection for Zooarchaeology
  • Publications

    Interested in learning more?

    Check out our Google Scholar pages for the most updated list of publications!

    Coming Soon:

    Lab procedure resources!

  • Alumni

    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.

    Assistant Curator of Zooarchaeology,

    Arizona State Museum

    Assistant Professor of Anthropology 

    University of Arizona, Tucson

    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.

    National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

    University of Florida

    Melissa Teoh, M.A.

    Contract Archaeologist

    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.

    PhD. candidate

    Department of Anthropology

    University of New Mexico