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Neusius Receives National Science Foundation Funding to Develop Integrated Faunal Databases

Professor Sarah Neusius, along with her co-PI, Bonnie Styles, director of the Illinois State Museum, has been awarded a research award in the amount of $184,080 by the Archaeology Program of the National Science Foundation.

The two-year project, entitled “The Development of Integrated Faunal Databases in tDAR,” will investigate how people living in the forested regions of interior eastern North America variously used fish, freshwater mussels, and waterfowl between approximately 10,000 and 3,000 years ago.

Researchers will investigate theories about why use of these animals was so variable by integrating at least 19 large zooarchaeological databases from this region using the integration tools available through tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record), an international repository for archaeological data.

The groundbreaking aspects of this research project include the preservation and integration at multiple scales of major zooarchaeological databases generated over the last half century as well as the formation of a working group of experienced zooarchaeologists affiliated with numerous institutions: the Illinois State Museum, Arizona State University, the University of Kentucky, the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Middle Tennessee State University, the University of Southern Mississippi, University of Michigan–Flint, and the State University of New York–Oneonta.

This group will develop protocols for exploring the taphonomic and contextual comparability of the databases, and examine key theoretical models for explaining the Archaic period in North America’s past.

The project also is unusual in its commitment to educating students and the public about zooarchaeological research through creation of an online exhibit and an undergraduate teaching module as well as public lectures and presentations.

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