Alumni & Friends of Archaeology and William A. Lovis Research Awards

Emily Milton taking water samples in the South-Central Andes
PhD student Emily Milton collecting a water sample in the South-Central Andes

The Department of Anthropology Alumni and Friends of Archaeology Expendable Fund and William A. Lovis Research Fund in Environmental Archaeology were awarded to PhD student Emily Milton. Marking its third year, the Alumni and Friends of Archaeology research award was established to enhance research and learning of undergraduate and graduate students in our archaeology program. This was the inaugural year for the William A. Lovis endowment, which celebrates Dr. Lovis’s commitment to research, specifically to that examining human-environment interactions prior to Euro-American colonization episodes worldwide.

The funds from these awards enabled Milton to travel to Peru last summer and finish a research project that identifies altitudinal and seasonal change in oxygen isotopes from surface water in the South-Central Andes. Archaeologists use water samples to construct an environmental baseline for isotopic signals in various regions. By establishing an isotopic baseline for Southern Peru, archaeologists will be able to improve the reliability of studies that use isotopes from human and animal remains to investigate past human behavior. Over the past three years, Milton has collected 100 water samples from the Majes River Drainage system, which will help in understanding the temporal variation in surface waters.

The William A. Lovis award funded Milton, her advisor, Dr. Kurt Rademaker, and another student to travel from the Peruvian south coast to the Central Andean highlands. Over a three-day sampling period, they collected 49 samples from 50 to 4800 meters above sea level. The Alumni and Friends of Archaeology funds covered airfare for Milton to fly to Peru to continue research on the artifacts from Cuncaicha Rock Shelter and to help excavate two prehistoric high-altitude sites, Pachamachay and Panaulauca.

Milton is currently analyzing the results of her water sampling and hopes to publish the findings soon. These data will allow Milton to launch new investigations into the isotopic composition of the Peruvian highlands, as well as support interpretations of oxygen isotopes from archaeological sites throughout the Majes drainage system. Milton is sincerely grateful for the support from the Anthropology Alumni and Friends of Archaeology Expendable Fund and William A. Lovis Research Fund in Environmental Archaeology.

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