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March 2, 2011

American Museum of Natural History publishes ULM geosciences professor's work

The prestigious American Museum of Natural History of New York has published the work of Professor Joe Saunders of the Department of Atmospheric Science, Earth Science and Physics at ULM.

Saunders' contributions are found on pages 237-243, Volume 93, of the Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History. The volume, titled "Trend, tradition and turmoil: what happened to the Southeastern Archaic?" is based on scholarly papers presented at a conference co-sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History and the St. Catherine's Island Foundation of Georgia.

In addition, LSU Press of Baton Rouge recently published Saunders' work in Archaeology of Louisiana, a volume in which Saunders' focused on Watson Brake and the Middle Archaeology Period (3600 B.C. to 2750 B.C.).

Saunders earned accolades following his work on archaic mounds in which he meticulously mapped, cored, excavated, radiocarbon dated, and analyzed sites such as Watson Brake, Frenchman's Bend, and Hedgepeth.

Through his collaboration with other scientists, Saunders conclusively answered the question on the age of these mounds. Saunders said the research and contributions of ULM faculty including Drs. Gary Stinger, Sean Chenowith, Diana Greenlee, Neal Douglas and Mervin Kontrovitz have provided significant data that show the origin of mound building started in northeast Louisiana over 5500 years ago.

Saunders' many articles on the subject of archaic mounds and his methodology indicate that mounds in the Lower Mississippi Valley, particularly in Louisiana, date back two thousand years before Poverty Point, initiating a major paradigm shift forever changing southeastern archaeology.

He is the 2010 recipient of the James A. Ford Award, named for one of Louisiana's earliest and most prolific archeologist. The award has only been presented five times since its inception 36 years ago.

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