College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Anthropology

Paleoethnobotany Laboratory

The Paleoethnobotany Laboratory at Washington State University contains state of the art facilities for the extraction, identification and interpretation of plant remains from archaeological sites.

The Paleoethnobotany Laboratory features new Olympus microscopes and imaging systems for the analysis and documentation of a variety of archaeological and comparative materials. In addition to our microscopy laboratory, we share a separate, code-compliant wet lab with a fume hood for chemical preparation of botanical microremains (pollen, phytoliths, starch grains) from archaeological materials and sediments with the stable isotope laboratory.

In the lab, we host botanical comparative collections of seeds, wood, phytoliths, starch, and pollen, as well as and herbarium voucher specimens. We are in the process of imaging these collections. Once imaged these will be uploaded to We also host a library of wood and seed atlases.

Research conducted in the paleoethnobotany laboratory includes the analysis of macrobotanical remains, paleoenvironmental cores, dental calculus, prehistoric ceramic residues (starch and phytoliths). The lab is currently in the process of also setting up experimental trials on different cultivars.

Archaeobotanical research methods covering macrobotanical remains, starch, phytoliths and pollen are introduced in Introduction to Paleoethnobotany (ANTH 576), a graduate level laboratory course designed to introduce students to the study of the relationship between people and plants in the past.

Current research themes focused on by the lab are the study of agricultural sustainability in the past, the origins and spread of agricultural systems in East Asia and Africa, identifying human impact on the environment, ancient foodways in the Northwest coast and Plains of the Americas and the relationship between changing climate and changes in subsistence systems.

Undergraduate volunteer opportunities

We welcome students from a range of backgrounds and with varying interests into the Paleoethnobotany Laboratory. We are currently looking for volunteers to help us organize and digitize our reference collections and to help sorting and identifying archaeological samples. We accept new volunteers on an ongoing basis. Please email Prof. D'Alpoim Guedes or Tiffany Fulkerson (laboratory manager 2013-2014) to get started.

Undergraduate research internships

Students with at least one semester of experience volunteering in the laboratory may work with Prof. D’Alpoim Guedes to develop a directed research project in the laboratory. Such projects may be completed for course credit, for funding. Please contact Prof. d'Alpoim Guedes directly to discuss possible projects.

Prospective graduate students

Prof. D'Alpoim Guedes is actively recruiting doctoral students (and, in more select circumstances, master's students) to join the laboratory group. While students interested in any aspect of environmental archaeology or the study of past human-environmental interactions are welcome, students with an interest in ancient agricultural systems of the East Asia are especially welcome to apply. A number of research projects are currently underway in the laboratory that offer opportunities for thesis and dissertation research, this includes material from archaeological sites on the Chengdu Plain, China and from Ashkelon, Israel. Please contact Prof. D'Alpoim Guedes directly with questions about our graduate program or to discuss your potential application.

Current Lab Members

Tiffany Fulkerson

Tiffany's dissertation research focuses on plant use and subsistence strategies among early hunter-gatherers in the North American Plateau and how early inhabitants of the region adapted to environmental change. Part of this research involves addressing questions about gender in the archaeological record and how knowledge of prehistoric plant use practices can be used advantageously for indigenous communities. Methods used to address these questions include starch, phytolith, pollen, and macrofloral analyses of soils and residues on material culture.


Ryan Syzmanksi

My interest lies in the symbiotic relationships that exist between people and their environments. More specifically, my research focus is on the continuing emergence of anthropogenic landscapes, particularly relating to the intensification of food production by foraging populations. Currently, I am involved within several projects. The first of these involves using pollen, phytolith, and fungal evidence to gain insight into the emergence of grain cultivation in East Africa. Additionally, in cooperation with the USDA Western Wheat Quality Laboratory, I am attempting to characterize carbonized wheat grain morphologies across domesticated varieties in order to improve interpretive confidence in taxonomic assignments made to macrobotanical archaeological assemblages. This will hopefully prove especially useful when dealing with very fragmentary material. Lastly, I am analyzing zooarchaeological material from Iron Age agro-pastoral sites in Kenya to better understand economic diversification and lineage cooperation during this period.

Laboratories in College Hall

Research Projects:

Department Publications

Archaeology site records and department reports are available in the Northwest Reading Room.

Theses & Dissertations

Browse through the title listing of our theses and dissertations.

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Department of Anthropology, PO Box 644910, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-4910, 509-335-3441, Contact Us