Jack Rossen

Jack Rossen

Retired 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.
E-mail: jrossen@ithaca.edu

I am an archaeologist who has worked and taught throughout South America and the U.S. The last 15 years I have working primarily near Cayuga Lake on Cayuga sites. I work within the framework known as indigenous archaeology. This approach strives to work with Native people, make archaeology more of a positive force for them, and challenge dominant narratives of the past that have oppressed and denied their rights. This is a growing reform movement within the profession and a reorientation of the discipline's ethics. 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. I also run the Landon Hall Archaeology Lab, which provides numerous opportunities for students, ranging from casual hands-on experience washing and sorting artifacts to serious senior thesis lab analysis projects.

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. Recently I developed a new 100 level course, Box Office Archaeology, that explores the portrayals of archaeologists in popular cinema as compared to the realities.

Brooke Hansen and I finished our ninth 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 some plan to return for internships and maybe careers there.

I am really pleased to announce a 2016 collaborative indigenous archaeological field school on the Big Island of Hawai`i! We test excavated last summer at Maluaka, part of the South Kona agricultural field system. Kamehameha Schools, the Native Hawaiian land trust, has requested that I coordinate investigations leading to a rebuilding and revitalization of traditional agriculture. Two leaders of the Hawaiian cultural revitalization movement, Mahealani Pai and Keonelehua Kalawe, will be co-directing the project. The site features stone terraces, planting pits, house platforms, underground drainage canals, and even built mounds which we think were observation posts. The site has also produced artifacts, including volcanic glass, digging stick points, and grooved adzes. I attach a flier. The credit costs were just announced by the University of Hawai`i at Hilo, which is hosting the field school. In-state cost for the 4 credit field course is $1152 ($288 per credit), while out of state is $1628 ($407 per credit).  Registration opens April 1. There is a roofed camping facility with showers and bathrooms for our exclusive use. Please contact me at jrossen@ithaca.edu for more info.  


  • World Archaeology
  • Box Office 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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