Journal of Undergraduate Research


reconstructing prehistoric diets, desert people, dental calculus


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




In 2014 I was awarded a Mentoring Environment Grant by ORCA to examine microfossils embedded in the dental calculus (tartar) of individuals who were found during excavations in and around the site of Paquimé, which dates to the thirteenth century A.D. This ancient city is located in the Chihuahuan desert in modern-day Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico. Over the last two years, I have been able to involve students in the extraction, processing, publishing, and presentation of the results of this analysis. While the research is ongoing, preliminary results have positively identified several fascinating foods that were consumed by the ancient people of Paquimé. This research has already piqued the interest of many archaeologists working in the U.S. Southwest/northern Mexico and has significantly contributed to the training of at least two students.

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