Dr. Jeffrey Painter, Archaeology

Jeff Painter

Dr. Jeffrey Painter has played a key role in the Morton Village Project, led by his former advisor Dr. Jodie O’Gorman, throughout his graduate career. His dissertation, “Cooking and Coalescence: Exploring the Construction of Community and Cuisine at Morton Village,” investigates foodways practices at this site located in the central Illinois River valley. Dr. Painter developed his research to explore the role cooking plays in local and immigrant communities in post-migration contexts of the ancient past. Using a broad foodways perspective, he examined residue patterns on pottery to identify cooking techniques. His analyses of the pottery’s physical and symbolic attributes and spatial considerations significantly contribute to understanding the role of cooking in inter-cultural negotiations, as well as the larger process of coalescence.

Dr. Painter’s case study at the Morton Village archaeological site supports the interpretation that, while actively using material culture and foodways to build solidarity and create shared traditions, neither group adopted the cooking traditions of the other wholesale. Additionally, he discusses how foodways may have also served as one avenue through which migrants could partake in local social and political dynamics of the region. His dissertation demonstrates the benefits of an approach to coalescence focusing on foodways and other everyday behaviors in addition to more large-scale practices. 

As a graduate student, Dr. Painter was active in the Campus Archaeology Program conducting field and lab work and public outreach. He was also a Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellow and co-created Archaeology 101, an interactive educational website for elementary and middle school students. Upon earning his PhD in 2021, Dr. Painter has recently accepted a federal position as the archaeologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service branch of the USDA in New Hampshire.

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