patti 

Associate Professor of Anthropology

PHONE: 314-516-6648
EMAIL: pjwright@umsl.edu

EDUCATION: Ph.D., Washington University, St. Louis, 1998

RESEARCH INTERESTS: My research focuses on past interrelationships between people and plants or what is called “paleoethnobotany.”  I am particularly interested in the development of agriculture in the Midwest.  What kinds of plants did people grow?   What techniques did they use to grow the crops?  How did they process them?  How did the growth of these plants influence social identity, economic and political organization, or other aspects of human culture? To these ends, I have analyzed archaeological plant assemblages from the Lower Missouri and Middle Mississippi River valleys and recently shifted my attention to the analysis of a series of plant assemblages from northeastern Arkansas

In addition, I am fascinated by how ancient plant remains are preserved and recovered from archaeological contexts and how cultural and natural processes influence our abilities to interpret archaeologically derived plant remains. As a result, I have conducted experiments, documented observations in the field, and contributed to discussions of paleoethnobotanical methods.

I am also interested in applied or public archaeology and museums. I recently returned from two years working at the Springs Preserve in Southern Nevada and spent six years serving as the Curator of Native American Ethnology at the Missouri History Museum. At both institutions, I curated exhibits and organized and presented public programming to make archaeology more accessible to the public. With the same objective in mind, I continue to work with individuals and organizations in the greater St. Louis area.

TEACHING INTERESTS:

  • Introduction to Archaeology (Anth 1019),
  • Archaeological Methods (Anth 4310),
  • Native Peoples of North America (Anth 2120),
  • Archaeological Field School (Anth 2109/4309),
  • Human Ecology, Cultural Collapse, and Sustainable Development (Anth 3270),
  • Internship in Archaeology (Anth 4326)

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS:

2010   On Methodological Issues in Paleoethnobotany.  In Integrating Zooarchaeology and Paleoethnobotany: A Consideration of Issues, Methods, and Cases, edited by Amber M. VanDerwarker and Tanya M. Peres, pp. 37-64.  Springer, NY.

2008   Understanding the Carbonization and Preservation of Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and Sumpweed (Iva annua) Remains.  Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology33:137-152.

2007   (with F. Braadbaart). The Reconstruction of the Original Dimensions of Carbonized Sunflower Achenes Recovered from the Archaeological Record.  Economic Botany  64:137-153.

2007   (with F. Braadbaart, J. van der Horst, J.J. Boon, and J.W. de Leeuw).  Laboratory Simulations of the Physical and Chemical Transformation of Sunflower Achenes as a Result of Heating.  Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis  78:316-327.

2007   Early Mississippian Plant Use along the Lower Missouri River.  Missouri Archaeologist 68:1-12.

2005   Flotation Samples and Some Paleoethnobotanical Implications.  Journal of Archaeological Science 32:19-26.

2003   Preservation of Destruction of Plant Remains by Carbonization? Journal of Archaeological Science 30:577-583.

2003   Paleoethnobotanical Analysis in the Stauffer Site, 23CO499: A Late Archaic Campsite and Late Woodland Residential Site in Central Missouri.  Memoir of the Journal of the Plains Anthropological Society, Vol. 48, Memoir 35, pp. 51-57.