Jack Rossen

Jack Rossen

Professor, Department of Anthropology
Faculty, School of Humanities and Sciences

Specialty:Archaeology, Eastern US Woodlands, Archaeobotany, Ethnobotany, Hunter-gatherers, early agriculture, lithic technology
Phone:(607) 274-3326
Office:G132 Gannett Center
Ithaca, NY 14850

Phone: 607-274-3326.
E-mail: jrossen@ithaca.edu

As Chair of the Anthropology Department, I strive to foster a learning community of teachers and students and support our vision of experiential learning, an applied perspective, development of key skills, and community involvement. We are pleased with our recent curriculum changes that have added a senior capstone course that pulls together the totality of the anthropology education and emphasizes career development and opportunities.

I am an archaeologist who has worked and taught throughout South America and the U.S. Now I am working primarily near Cayuga Lake on a 10th century early Cayuga (Native American) village site. My specializations include archaeobotany, the study of archaeological plant remains, and lithic technology, the study of stone tools. I have the opportunity to see the interface between generalists, who run site excavations and coordinate the results of a large research team, and the specialist who becomes attached to various projects, because I do both. Only our imagination limits the scientific possibilities and special studies that may be done in archaeology.

My middle level classes are North American Prehistory, The Iroquois (Haudenosaunee), Native Peoples of the Northeast, and People, Plants, and Culture, an ethnobotany course. I also enjoy teaching my upper level seminars, which include Hunter-Gatherers, Origins of Agriculture, and Ethnoarchaeology. I'll be teaching my 6 week archaeological field school this summer (May 27-July 2, 2009) at the Levanna site, 35 miles north of Ithaca. We will be investigating the origins of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy for the third straight summer. In the meantime, we are always looking for help in the Landon Hall archaeology lab washing, sorting and analyzing artifacts – get in touch if you’re interested in helping out.

Brooke Hansen and I just finished our fifth December-January trip to the Big Island of Hawai'i for our course (The Anthropological Experience in Hawai'i). We met Native Hawaiians who are rebuilding the ancient sacred temples, worked in a taro patch and ethnobotanical garden, and learned about the ancient lifeways and modern struggles for respect and soveriegnty. Our IC students were transformed and plan to return for internships and maybe careers there. We also met up with students from our past Hawai'i classes who are working in archives at the Bishop Museum, participating in the Teach for America Program, and working in social services there.

I am particularly concerned that archaeology continue to have relevance in the present-day world. So my local research highlights the complex landscape of the heart of Cayuga territory, especially the area on the east shore of Cayuga Lake where several principle Cayuga villages stood in the 18th century, including Cayuga Castle (Gouiguen),  Chonodote (Peachtown), and Upper Cayuga. These were among the 43 Native towns and villages of the Finger Lakes area that were burned by the U.S. Continental Army during the Sullivan Campaign of 1779. This archaeology is part of a “new vision” for the discipline, one that cooperates with and strives to be a positive force for Native people, studies issues that Native people are interested in, is oriented to site protection, and respects sacred areas and burial grounds.

I co-founded the Native American Studies minor with Brooke Hansen. We strive for a multidimensional program that includes not just an array of courses in eight departments across campus, but also special events, field trips, internship opportunities, and student recruitment. The field school, along with the Hawaii course, is designed to show the common progress and problems of Native peoples of all regions: they are all revitalizing their culture, repatriating important materials from museums and storehouses, and trying to recover land.


  • World Archaeology
  • North American Archaeology
  • The Iroquois
  • Native Peoples of the Northeast
  • People, Plants, and Culture: Ethnobotany & Archaeobotany
  • Hunter-Gatherers
  • Origins of Agriculture
  • Ethnoarchaeology
  • Archaeological Field School in the Cayuga Homeland
  • The Anthropological Experience in Hawai’i



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