Source: Press Release
Date: April 24, 2009
Byline: R. Michael Stewart
Dissertation Award for Dr. Timothy Messner
The Society for American Archaeology's (SAA) Annual Dissertation Award goes to Temple PhD
On Friday, April 24, Dr. Timothy Messner received the SAA's annual dissertation award. Dr. Messner received his PhD in the Department of Anthropology at Temple University in 2008. The SAA is the premier national organization of archaeologists with membership in excess of 7000 individuals. The dissertation award involves a national competition. The following is from the SAA's presentation text found in the meeting's program (page 6):
Dr. Timothy Messner has written an outstanding dissertation ("Woodland Period People and Plants Interactions: New Insights from Starch Grain Analysis") in which he investigates Woodland Period wild plant-use practices for the Middle Atlantic region, with particular emphasis on the Delaware River Watershed, using a recent methodological innovation called starch grain analysis. Microscopic starch grain analysis is carried out on residue found on lithic and ceramic artifacts, allowing identified plants to be linked directly to artifact use. As he was the first to apply this methodology to temperate North America, Dr. Messner's study included the creation of a comparative database of starch grains, selected through an exhaustive search of ethnohistoric and archaeological studies of regional ethnobotany. Based on his results he argues that Woodland populations continued to employ myriad wild plants long after the shift to food production for both subsistence and medicinal purposes. This study brings a new methodology to classic archaeological questions with inspiringly rich and nuanced results.