Lisa Maher, Professor

Closed (1) Reconstructing Human Activities in the Paleolithic: Case studies from Prehistoric Sites in Jordan

Applications for Fall 2018 are now closed for this project.

About 10,000 years ago in Southwest Asia farming communities began to settle in large villages and produce their own food; forever changing the social and physical landscape of this region. However, the emergence of social complexity and the dramatic social and economic changes that led to the origins of agriculture here began with hunter-gatherer societies at least 20,000 years prior to the Neolithic period. Upper Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic groups living in the region between 30,000 and 11,500 years BP first exhibit many of the cultural traits we associate with later Neolithic villages, including intensive plant use, the first domestic animals (dogs), increased sedentism and population aggregations, architecture, complex site organization, a flourishing artistic repertoire, far-reaching interaction networks, and elaborate mortuary practices.

This project is seeking assistance in the Geoarchaeology and Southwest Asia Prehistory Lab in the Department of Anthropology to help organize and study archaeological collections from prehistoric sites in northern and eastern Jordan excavated by L. Maher. The rich archaeological assemblages from these sites highlight the importance of understanding hunter-gatherer behaviors in reconstructing the emergence of farming communities and social complexity. One site is a 16,000-year-old campsite and early Palaeolithic cemetery. The other site is a large, 20,000-year-old aggregation site, where hunter-gatherers congregated for prolonged periods of time to create the largest and most archaeologically-dense prehistoric site in the region. The collections from both sites exhibit a diverse material culture inventory, with an abundance of marine shell beads, worked bone, ground stone, ochre, hut structures, botanical and faunal material, and microlithic chipped stone tools. Part of this project entails the cataloguing and organization of the extensive artifact collections from these sites. In particular, students with an interest in lithic analysis are sought for the sorting and identification of the stone tool assemblages from these sites. As researchers and laboratory assistants in this project, students will gain hands-on experience with the collections, in-depth training in lithic analysis, and general research experience on Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic cultures of Southwest Asia from 30,000 to 10,000 years BP.



Students will learn to conduct a variety of material culture and geoarchaeological lab analyses, such as lithic analysis, artifact (fauna, shell, charcoal, worked bone) sorting and recording, working the field data, conducting flotation, recording Munsell color, measuring sediment pH, sample preparation and analysis for particle size distribution, and possibly others.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Lisa Maher

Qualifications: Students should be highly motivated, detail-oriented, and independent workers; an interest in prehistoric or environmental archaeology is preferred. Experience working in a laboratory setting is an asset but not required. Students should, however, be comfortable working in a lab, getting dirty, and willing to complete any required safety training. Experience with basic spreadsheet software (Excel) is desired.

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs
Related website: https://anthropology.berkeley.edu/lisa-maher

Closed (2) Lithic Analysis-Ancient Egypt

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2018 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2018.

This is an exciting opportunity to research original historical documentation about an archaeological excavation in Egypt. The Specialist will assist the PI in compiling and deciphering the original records of an excavation that occurred in the early 20th century at the cemetery site of Naga ed-Deir in Egypt.



-Research chipped stone tool traditions from ancient Egypt
•Analyze a small assemblage of flint tools from an archaeological excavation in Egypt
•Work with comparative materials from elsewhere
•Compile records into a master document
•Available to work during the Fall semester


Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Lisa Maher, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: •Taken introductory archaeology course •Detail oriented •Strong organizational skills •Ability to see minute details •Interest in deciphering documents that are faintly written and difficult to read •Experience with or interest in digital tracing and drawing •Willingness to work closely with other team members •Interest in archaeology, Egyptology, history, or a related field •Experience with Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Draw, or similar is a plus

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs

Closed (3) Historical Documentation Specialist

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2018 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2018.

This is an exciting opportunity to research original historical documentation about an archaeological excavation in Egypt. The Specialist will assist the PI in compiling and deciphering the original records of an excavation that occurred in the early 20th century at the cemetery site of Naga ed-Deir in Egypt.


•Read and transcribe archaeological records
•Make tracings of original drawings
•Compile records into a master document
•Available to work during the Fall and Spring semesters


Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Vanessa Davies

Qualifications: •Detail oriented •Strong organizational skills •Ability to see minute details •Interest in deciphering documents that are faintly written and difficult to read •Skill in manipulating digital images in order to enhance legibility •Experience with or interest in digital tracing and drawing •Willingness to work closely with other team members •Interest in archaeology, Egyptology, history, or a related field •Experience with Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Draw, or similar is a plus Available to work at least 2 consecutive hours every week Hours are flexible, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with a possibility for evening hours if desired

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs

Closed (4) Experimental Archaeology: Reconstructing a 20,000 year old hut structure from Eastern Jordan

Applications for Fall 2018 are now closed for this project.

About 10,000 years ago in Southwest Asia farming communities began to settle in large villages and produce their own food; forever changing the social and physical landscape of this region. However, the emergence of social complexity and the dramatic social and economic changes that led to the origins of agriculture here began with hunter-gatherer societies at least 20,000 years prior to the Neolithic period. Upper Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic groups living in the region between 30,000 and 11,500 years BP first exhibit many of the cultural traits we associate with later Neolithic villages, including intensive plant use, the first domestic animals (dogs), increased sedentism and population aggregations, architecture, complex site organization, a flourishing artistic repertoire, far-reaching interaction networks, and elaborate mortuary practices.

This project is seeking assistance through the Geoarchaeology and Southwest Asia Prehistory Lab in the Department of Anthropology to help with the reconstruction of a ~20,000 year old hut structure excavated from the Jordanian archaeological site of Kharaneh IV. At this Epipaleolithic aggregation site hunter-gatherers congregated for prolonged periods of time to create the largest and most archaeologically-dense prehistoric site in the region. In addition to the burnt remains of hut structures, Kharaneh IV exhibits a diverse material culture inventory, with an abundance of marine shell beads, worked bone, ground stone, ochre, botanical and faunal material, and microlithic chipped stone tools. The rich archaeological assemblage from this site highlights the importance of understanding hunter-gatherer behaviors in reconstructing the emergence of farming communities and social complexity. In recreating the dwellings associated with the complex site of Kharaneh IV, experimentation of possible daily activities will then be conducted in the hut in future, which will then be analyzed from a geoarchaeological perspective to provide a comparative analog for better understanding of deposits from within the Kharaneh IV huts.

A main component of this project is the actual building of the hut. The methods used will require developing an understanding of hut construction techniques from examples found in ethnographic research. In addition to learning how to build a thatched hut, research and laboratory assistants will learn first-hand how experimental archaeology is conducted in a scientific manor. URAP students will also gain general research experience on Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic cultures of Southwest Asia from 30,000 to 10,000 years BP.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Joshua Varkel, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Students should be highly motivated, detail-oriented, and independent workers; an interest in prehistoric and/or experimental archaeology is preferred. Experience working in a laboratory setting is an asset but not required. Students should, however, be comfortable getting dirty, and willing to complete any required safety training. Additionally, students may need to be able make their own way to the UC Botanical Garden (200 Centennial Dr., Berkeley, CA 94720) on a weekly basis.

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs