KATHLEEN L. HULL

Associate Professor, Anthropology

School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts

LABORATORY

My laboratory on the UC Merced campus lab has a sink, snorkel hood, secure storage, layout space for multiple analysts, and workspace for several graduate students. The lab also houses analytical equipment to determine the elemental constituents of artifacts; digital scales, calipers, and other tools with which to derive quantitative artifact data; a library of archaeological laboratory references; a computer, scanner, printer, and digital projector; and software for statistical analyses, graphic production, word-processing, and other functions.

CURRENT PROJECTS

  • Communal mourning features, Los Angeles County
  • Demography of small-scale societies, California and the Great Basin
  • Obsidian hydration rate studies, Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County

COMMUNAL MOURNING FEATURES, LOS ANGELES

My current research explores the practices and performance of cyclic (e.g., annual) communal mourning ceremonies among ancestral Tongva/Gabrielino of the Los Angeles basin. Detailed study of lithic artifacts has revealed deliberate sequences of artifact production, treatment, fragmentation, and deposition that likely had both symbolic and social meaning.  Iím particularly interested in how such practices contributed to community identity and cohesion in a region that experienced potentially profound demographic shifts over that past 2,000 years.

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DEMOGRAPHY OF SMALL-SCALE SOCIETIES, CALIFORNIA AND THE GREAT BASIN

My previous research has focused on one of the most contentious  issues in the study of European colonialism in North America -- the timing, magnitude, and cultural consequences of native depopulation due to  introduced infectious disease. My study of the native demography within Yosemite Valley examined data within a framework of multiple time scales from the short-term event to longue duree as a  means to better assess the potential for perception and action on the part of the native people. This study provided an intimate portrait of native decision-making in the "hinterlands" of colonial California. My book on this subject (Pestilence and Persistence: Yosemite Indian Demography and Culture in Colonial California, UC Press 2009) complements existing archaeological,  anthropological, and historical literature on European colonialism;  contributes to the demographic debate; and provides a view of the impact of colonialism prior to face-to-face encounters of colonists and Indians.

Although this study focused on depopulation during the colonial era, my broader research agenda is assessment of the long-term and short-term dynamics between population and culture in small-scale societies in a variety of contexts in the more distant past. The demographic results for the Yosemite region suggest that oscillations in population size through time were common in small-scale groups, and a  significant population decline is indicated in the distant past. These observations are contrary to many expectations of population growth  implicit in models of hunter-gatherer behavior common to archaeological study in western North America and elsewhere. The demographic data are  consistent with Yosemite native oral tradition, however, and bear further study to understand cause, consequence, and implications of this pattern as well as the strength of employing different sources of data in archaeological analysis. This work in the Sierra Nevada is further  complemented by my previous research on native demography in the eastern Great Basin.

OBSIDIAN HYDRATION RATES, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, MARIPOSA

Much of my research in the Sierra Nevada depends on accurate formulas to convert obsidian hydration measurements to absolute dates.  Based on archaeological data (rather than induced hydration), I have developed temperature-dependent hydration rates for both Casa Diablo and, most recently, Bodie Hills obsidian for application in Yosemite National Park.

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copyright 2011-2016 Kathleen L. Hull