Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute

J. M. Adovasio, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Senior Counselor to the President
Dean, The Zurn School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics
Director, Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute

Office: Zurn 113
Phone: (814) 824-2545
Fax: (814) 824-2594

Courses Taught

  • World Cultures
  • Paleoanthropology
  • Archaeological Field Methods
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Prehistory of Western North America
  • Various graduate-level reading classes


  • Provost
  • Dean of the Zurn School of Science
  • Director, Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute

Current Research Interests and Projects

I have maintained several long-term research trajectories since the inception of my professional career in anthropology. The first of these concerns the analysis and role of perishable material culture, specifically including basketry, textiles, cordage, nets, sandals, and other plant-fiber-derived artifacts in prehistoric societies. The second addresses the adaptations and behaviors of Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene populations in various parts of the world, notably in arid environments. The third involves the ongoing development of excavations, field documentation, and analytical protocols for and in the excavation of open and, especially, closed (i.e. caves and rockshelters) archaeological sites. Finally, I have been actively involved in the development of the interface between archaeology and geology known as geoarchaeology with the fundamental underlying premise that it is the role of the archaeologist to understand not only the behaviors of the actors and actresses of antiquity but also the genesis and subsequent evolution of the geological stage upon which they perform.

  • Perishable Industries from the Bronze Age Site of Bâb edh-Dhrâc , Jordan
  • Archaeological Investigations at the Clovis-era Shoop Site, Central Pennsylvania
  • Archaeological Investigations of the Subcontinental Margin of Florida
  • Perishable Industries from Eastern Nevada

Recent Publications

The First Americans: In Search of Archaeology's Greatest Mystery (with Jake Page). The Invisible Sex (with Olga Soffer and Jake Page).

Fremont Basketry. In The Great Basin, edited by C. S. Fowler and D.D. Fowler, pp. 125-128. School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe. (with D.R. Pedler and J. S. Illingworth)

Textiles as Well as Ceramics in the Upper Paleolithic: Like it or Not! In Archeologicke Rozhledy LIX:2007, pp. 581-591 (with O. Soffer)

Pre-Clovis Sites and Their Implications for Human Occupation before the Last Glacial Maximum. In Entering America: Northeast Asia and Beringia Before the Last Glacial Maximum, edited by D. B. Madsen, pp. 139-158. The University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

Basketry Impressions and Weaving Accoutrements from the Bâb edh-Dhrâc Town Site. In Bâb edh-Dhrâc : Excavations at the Town Site (1975-1981), edited by W. E. Rast and R. T. Schaub, pp. 599-621. Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake. (with R. L. Andrews, J. S. Illingworth, C. A. Pappas, and E. A. Oliver).

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