Joseph E. Beaver


Offices: Imholte Hall Room 1 & Science Building Room 2370

Office Phones: (320)589-7003 (Imholte) & (320)589-6351 (Science)

I am an archaeologist specializing in quantitative and computational methods. In my anthropologist persona, I teach both archaeology and biological anthropology. My focus on computational analyses has led me fairly deeply into computer programing, and as a result I occasionally teach in computer science, as well.

My archaeological research mostly involves the relationship between humans and the animals they preyed on, particularly in hunter-gatherer and early farming societies. I have done fieldwork in the central Plains area of North America, Jordan, and Portugal.


Current Courses - Spring 2015

CSci 1201 Introduction to Digital Media Computation - course wiki and Moodle

Geog 2001 Problems in Geography - course Moodle

IS 1091 Ethical and Social Implications of Technology - course wiki and Moodle

Recent Courses - Fall 2014

Anth 3704 Anthropological Genetics - course wiki and Moodle

CSci 2101 Data Structures - course wiki and Moodle

Other Courses I Teach

Anth 2101 Physical Anthropology (labs)

Anth 2103 Archaeology

Anth 3701 Forensic Anthropology

Geog 3501 Geographic Information Systems

IS 1001 First-Year Seminar: Human Diversity - "Plagues and Peoples" (course no longer taught)

IS 1808 Agents and Agency: Modeling Emergence in the Social Sciences

Current Research

Foragin' Trail

Working together with UMM student Ian Buck, I am developing an online "game" to use in teaching students about hunter-gatherer resource choices and mobility patterns in various seasonal, environmental, and social/technological scenarios.

Predator-Prey Models

I am investigating some difficulties in the archaeological application of some of the most common mathematical models of foraging behavior, in particular the prey-choice/diet-breadth model. Additionally, I have developed a computational model of hunter-prey dynamics which I use to analyze alternative approaches to the demographic interpretation of changes in the animals prehistoric hunters preyed on. Preliminary results can be found in my dissertation.

Selected Publications

The Sands of Time: The Desert Neolithic Settlement of Ayn Abū Nukhayla

Edited by Donald O. Henry and Joseph E. Beaver. ex oriente, Berlin. (2014)

Sands of Time Book Cover

This book is the full publication for the excavation of an archaeological site in the desert of southern Jordan that I've been part of since 1999. The volume contains 19 chapters by 27 authors, covering everything from the paleoenvironment to the animal remains to the stone tools.

In a break from my usual research foci, I wrote the chapter on the architectural remains.

Identifying Necessity and Sufficiency Relationships in Skeletal-Part Representation Using Fuzzy-Set Theory

American Antiquity 69:131-140. (2004)

Abstract. Traditional approaches to the analysis of skeletal representation in faunal assemblages that employ correlation analyses work well when there is a linear or curvilinear relationship or no relationship at all between the variables under investigation. However, in taphonomic applications in zooarchaeology, these approaches can mask meaningful variation in certain cases where the relationship between the causal variable and skeletal-part representation is one of limitation rather than absolute determination. Such relationships are typified by triangular distributions of points in scatter plots. Using fuzzy-set theory, these relationships can be interpreted more comprehensively by distinguishing necessity and sufficiency relationships between the causal variable and skeletal part representation. Graphs in which data points are distributed in a triangle in the lower-right part of the scatter plot are consistent with an interpretation of necessity, while graphs where data points are distributed in an upper-left triangle are consistent with an interpretation of sufficiency. Such interpretations parallel transport strategies inferred from graphs of utility and representation, and can be applied profitably to graphs of density and representation. In some cases, this leads not only to refinement of the interpretation of density effects, but also to retrieval of economic evidence that might otherwise be overlooked.

PDF (requires JSTOR access)


Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Arizona (2007)

Dissertation: Paleolithic Ungulate Hunting: Simulation and Mathematical Modeling for Archaeological Inference and Explanation

M.A., Anthropology, University of Tulsa (2000)

Thesis: The Desert Late Natufian of the Southern Levant: A View from the Rift Valley

B.G.S., Anthropology, University of Kansas (1998)

Last updated: Aug. 27, 2014Copyright © 2014 Joseph E. Beaver

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