college of liberal arts

Oregon’s Paisley Caves as old as Clovis sites – but not Clovis

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study of Oregon’s Paisley Caves confirms that humans used the site as early as 13,200 calendar years ago and perhaps as early as 14,700 calendar years ago, and the projectile points they left behind were of the “Western Stemmed” tradition and not Clovis – which suggests parallel technological development of early inhabitants to the Americas.

The study, published this week in the journal Science, could have a major impact on theories of how the Western Hemisphere was populated. The research was funded by multiple organizations, including the Keystone Archaeological Research Fund, the Bernice Peltier Huber Charitable Trust, and the National Science Foundation.

Lead author Dennis Jenkins, from the University of Oregon, and second author Loren Davis, from Oregon State University, were part of a large multidisciplinary team that spent much of the past two years combing through deposits and collecting more than 100 high-precision radiocarbon dates from Paisley Caves, located in south-central Oregon’s Summer Lake basin.

What cemented the authors’ findings was a thorough examination of the stratigraphy in the caves, which confirmed that coprolites containing human DNA were definitely associated with layers of sediment ranging in age from 2,295 to 12,450 radiocarbon years ago (which is roughly 2,340 to 14,700 calendar years ago) – and were not contaminated by humans or animals at later dates. The researchers last year also found additional Western Stemmed projectile points.

“The Western Stemmed and Clovis traditions include different technological strategies,” said Davis, an associate professor of anthropology in OSU’s School of Language, Culture and Society. “The Western Stemmed artifacts from Paisley Caves are at least as old – and may predate – the oldest confirmed Clovis sites, indicating that the peopling of the Americas was at least technologically divergent, if not genetically divergent.”

The projectile points were found in deposits dating back 12,960 to 13,230 calendar years ago, and thus were not quite as old as the oldest coprolites. But DNA from coprolites of that era was similar to that found in the oldest coprolites, Davis pointed out. “They were from the same genetic group,” he said.

The difference in technology between Clovis and Western Stemmed projectile points revolves around how they were attached to spears, which relates to the strategy of finding and shaping pieces of rock in the first place. Clovis artifacts have a distinct notch at the base, where a piece has been removed. The tool builder starts with a large rock and reduces it considerably.

Western Stemmed points and Clovis points primarily differ in the construction of their hafting portions, Davis said. Stemmed points bear constricted bases, while the hafting element of a Clovis point is thinned through the removal of a large flake from the base. Western Stemmed points are also often made by modifying smaller flakes in a different way than Clovis peoples manufactured their spear points.

“These two approaches to making projectile points were really quite different,” Davis said, “and the fact that Western Stemmed point-makers fully overlap, or even pre-date Clovis point makers likely means that Clovis peoples were not the sole founding population of the Americas.”

Clovis technology has only been found in the New World, while Western Stemmed technology can be related to archaeological patterns seen in northeastern Asia.

“We seem to have two different traditions co-existing in the United States that did not blend for a period of hundreds of years,” said the University of Oregon’s Jenkins.

Past studies of Paisley Caves also have reported on human coprolites with ancient DNA, but questions arose about whether those samples could have been contaminated, and whether they were found in context with artifacts from the same era. So the researchers did an exhaustive examination of the stratigraphy, which is one of Davis’ specialties.

Davis conducted microscopic analysis of the soil structure using a petrographic microscope to eliminate signs of liquid – such as water or urine from humans or animals – moving downward through the soil. The team also carefully analyzed the silt lens where the stem points were found and bracketed above and below those layers to see if radiocarbon dates synchronized.

“The stemmed points were in great context,” Davis said. “There is no doubt that they were in primary context, associated with excellent radiocarbon dates.”

The earliest models for peopling of the Americas suggest that the first inhabitants arrived from Asia via a land bridge at the end of the last Ice Age and fanned out across the continent. However, those models can’t explain the presence of two separate and distinct stone tool technologies at the end of the last glacial period.

“Given these recent results from Paisley Caves, it’s clear that we need to come up with some better models,” Davis said.

Story By: 

Loren Davis, 541-602-4142

Drug traffickers struggle to leave 'the game;' fear losing power, status

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Drug traffickers who want to leave the “game” behind often struggle to do so because they fear loss of power and status, a new study shows.

Those who do leave the illegal drug trade often do so because of a complex mixture of issues including fatherhood, drug use and abuse, and threat of punishment by authorities or fear of retaliation. Researchers concluded that traffickers need ways that allow them to leave the drug business without surrendering their entire identity.

The new article, now online in the International Journal of Drug Policy, is one of the first ethnographic studies to interview former drug traffickers in detail.

Tobin Hansen of Oregon State University and lead author Howard Campbell with the University of Texas-El Paso conducted detailed life history interviews with 30 former drug traffickers from the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez border, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

They wanted to find out why traffickers quit selling drugs, and also discover more about their perspectives on the lifestyle and reasons why they entered the drug trade.

Hansen, who teaches Spanish at OSU, said very few studies of this kind exist. He said the former traffickers interviewed were primarily young white and Mexican-American males.

“Our primary goal in this study was to look at motivating factors why traffickers may, or may not, choose to get out of the drug game,” Hansen said. “We found they often want to quit, for safety reasons, for family and just as a part of life course as they get older, but that it is very difficult to relinquish the power and status they get from the business.”

Many of the study participants talked about feeling powerless, or being poor as kids, and how joining a gang or starting to sell drugs helped change this.

“In this area, it is also a rite of passage to become part of the drug business,” Hansen said. “Most of the people we talked to knew someone in the business, or had family directly involved. It is very difficult for them to remove themselves from that at a young age.”

Even those traffickers who had quit drug smuggling often spoke fondly of those years looking back, remembering specific moments when they were “on top” and powerful. Hansen pointed out that for young men who are used to having a great deal of wealth and power at their fingertips it is seen as a huge loss of status to become laborers.

In addition, Hansen said media and the glorification of the drug trade entered into the conversations with traffickers. One man they interviewed dropped repeated references to the Al Pacino movie “Scarface,” and the TV series “Gangland.” More than 25 percent of the former traffickers they spoke to were trying to sell their stories to the media or to Hollywood for script development.

“Three of these guys had already written books about their lives,” Hansen said. “The desire for acknowledgement and to maintain some sort of outlaw image is pretty important.”

Hansen and Campbell believe the complex motivating factors for why these traffickers left the drug business points to the fact prison sentences aren’t enough. They recommend policies that directly address the factors that make it difficult for traffickers to quit. Specifically, the researchers have suggested a program structured similarly to Narcotics Anonymous, where traffickers could meet and develop insight into the ways their narco-identities confined and limited their lives.

They added that these meetings could also be a place to share ideas and for them to write their life stories, thus helping them maintain a sense of dignity and excitement without engaging in the drug game.

“Policies need to start addressing that these issues are not created in a vacuum,” Hansen said. “We need to look at the socioeconomic conditions, cultural values and systems that pull people into, and out of, the drug business. We also need to come to terms with the biggest factor of all – the demand for this product from the United States has not dropped at all in four decades.”

Story By: 

Tobin Hansen, 541-737-3934

Acclaimed Germany comedy shows May 29 in Corvallis

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A Germany comedy that the Hollywood Reporter called “a whimsical Woody Allen vibe” will be screened on Tuesday, May 29, in Corvallis.

The free, public screening is sponsored by the German Program at Oregon State University. It shows at 6 and 8 p.m. at the Darkside Cinema, 215 S.W. 4th St.

“Whiskey and Vodka” (or “Whisky mit Wodka”) is a 2009 comedy by prolific German director Andreas Dresen. Starring veteran actor Henry Hübchen as a past-his-prime movie star whose drunken antics imperil his latest production, the film is a sensitive tale of loneliness and growing old, of chances and dreams, of small and great lies.

Sebastian Heiduschke, an assistant professor of German at OSU, will introduce the movie.

The screening is supported by the OSU proposed School of Language, Culture, and Society, Goethe-Institute San Francisco, and Sophie Scholl Schule German Immersion Saturday School in Corvallis.

Story By: 

Sebastian Heiduschke, 541-737-3957

Multimedia Downloads

Whiskey and Vodka

Poet Alcosser to read at OSU May 24

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Sandra Alcosser, an award-winning poet whose work has been called “feisty, accomplished and mature,” will read from her work on Thursday, May 24, at 7:30 p.m. in the main rotunda at Oregon State University’s Valley Library.

Alcosser’s seven books of poetry include “A Fish to Feed All Hunger” and “Except by Nature,” both of which were selected for the National Poetry Series.

She is the National Endowment for the Arts’ first “Conservation Poet for the Wildlife Conservation Society,” and was Montana’s first poet laureate. Her poems have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology.

In advance of her Corvallis reading, Alcosser will be writer-in-residence for the Long-Term Ecological Reflections program at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, which is co-sponsored by the Spring Creek Project and the U.S. Forest Service. The Visiting Writers Series is supported by the proposed School of Writing, Literature, and Film, the Valley Library, the Office of the Provost, the College of Liberal Arts, Kathy Brisker and Tim Steele, and the OSU Beaver Store.

Story By: 

Charles Goodrich, 541-737-6198

Ambassador to give talk on nuclear proliferation on May 24

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr., who has served as a senior United States diplomat for more than 30 years, will give a free, public talk on nuclear proliferation on Thursday, May 24, at Oregon State University.

Graham’s talk, “Endless Crisis: North Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Palestine and Nuclear Proliferation,” will begin at 4 p.m. at the Construction and Engineering Hall of LaSells Stewart Center. A reception and book signing will follow.

Graham is a renowned figure in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and international relations.  During his diplomatic career, he advised five presidents and has written a new book, “Unending Crisis: National Security Policy after 9/11.”

During his tenure serving the Clinton administration, Graham played a significant role in extending the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995 and has been involved in negotiations with more than 100 nations. As a diplomat he was involved in forming the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty.

The talk is sponsored by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Story By: 

Brent Steel, 541-737-6133

Brian Kellow to read from biography on film critic Pauline Kael on May 30

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Noted journalist and editor Brian Kellow will read from his newly released biography, “Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark,” on Wednesday, May 30, in Oregon State University’s Memorial Union Journey Room.

The reading, which begins at 7:30 p.m., is free and open to the public.

“Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark” (Viking, 2011) is the first biography of The New Yorker’s most influential, powerful, and controversial film critic. Selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Kellow’s biography creates a moving portrait of Kael as a bold, brash, and remarkably driven critic. 

Ben Brantly, chief theater critic at The New York Times, notes the significance of Kellow’s biography of this influential woman: “[Pauline Kael] got into my bloodstream more than any other critic. So I have been waiting most of my life for a smart, insightful biography like this to take me beyond and beneath the hypnotic thrill of her prose.”

Kellow is the features editor for Opera News and author of four books, including “Ethel Merman: A Life,” “The Bennetts: An Acting Family” and “Can’t Help Singing: The Life of Eileen Farrell.” He writes the popular Opera News column “On the Beat,” and his articles have appeared in Travel and Leisure, BBC Music Magazine and Newsday.

An alumnus of OSU’s English Department, Kellow now lives in New York.

Kellow’s appearance in Corvallis is part of the proposed School of Writing, Literature, and Film’s 2011-12 Visiting Writers Series, and is made possible by contributions from The Valley Library, the Office of the Provost, the College of Liberal Arts, Kathy Brisker and Tim Steele, and the OSU Beaver Store.

Story By: 

Rebecca Olson, 541-737-1648

Multimedia Downloads

"Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark"

Student-created plays one-act plays open May 17

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The 2012 Spring One-Act Festival, featuring plays written, directed and designed by Oregon State University students, comes to the Withycombe main stage starting Thursday, May 17.

The festival, which runs May 17-19 beginning at 7:30 p.m. and May 20 at 2 p.m., features six original one-act plays including an eclectic mix of comedy and drama from playwriting students. Withycombe Hall is located at 30th and Campus Way on the OSU campus.

“Jolly Jack Junior,” by Jeff Goode and directed by Sarah McKenney, is a swashbuckling farce complete with pirates, wenches, and sword-fights. The cast includes OSU students Sam Thompson and Alexa Johnston.

Christopher Durang’s “The Actor’s Nightmare,” directed by Davey Kashuba, is a comedy about an actor thrust into a nightmare of a show. This play features students Megan Haverman, Nicole Snyder, Mason Atkin, Chris Peterman, Chris Omerod, and Sam Thompson. Corvallis community member Eric Leman is also featured.

In Crane Johnson’s “Fear”, directed by Megan Grassl, a young woman is terrorized by a charming young man. This play features community members Jamie Bilderback and Jonathan Thompson.

Lanford Wilson’s drama “Your Everyday Ghost Story,” directed by Abbey Pasquini, is a tale about the destruction and devastation of AIDS and features OSU students Andrew Toyer and Alexander Johnston.

“Get Out of Your Cage,” by Mary Plowman and directed by Tucker Minnick, is a play dealing with the conflict between life’s duties and the desire for adventure. It features OSU students Alycia Olivar, Maira Rodriguez, Kimberly Wilson, Emerson Hovenkamp, Deborah Shapiro, and Troy Toyama.

Romulus Linney’s bittersweet comic drama “Paradise,” directed by Rowan Wolff Russell, explores the dynamics of a family trying to find its footing in Florida. It features students Irene Drage, Caleb Lewis, Ciana Ginochio, and Pat Purdue. Community member Ariel Ginsburg also stars.

Tickets are $8 general, $6 seniors, $5 for student/youth and $4 for OSU students. Information: 541-737-2784 or http://oregonstate.edu/dept/theatre.

Story By: 

State Treasurer Ted Wheeler to deliver McCall lecture May 31 at OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler will deliver the annual Gov. Tom McCall Memorial Lecture at Oregon State University on Thursday, May 31.

His talk, “Investing in Oregon’s Future,” begins at 7 p.m. in the Construction and Engineering Hall of the LaSells Stewart Center. It is free and open to the public. A question and answer session and public reception will follow.

In his talk, Wheeler will address how, in an era of budget cuts and sluggish economic growth, the state of Oregon is targeting its resources by investing in education and in entrepreneurs and small business creation. According to Wheeler, tackling the state’s pressing issues – education gaps, an aging population, and constrained public resources – means finding solutions that blur the line of traditional government in order for Oregon to compete in a global marketplace and thrive. 

Before entering elected office as State Treasurer in 2010, Wheeler worked in the financial services industry. He was elected in 2006 as the chief executive of Multnomah County, where he oversaw a workforce of more than 4,400 and was responsible for reducing and balancing the budget.

Wheeler was born in Portland, and graduated from Lincoln High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University, an MBA from Columbia University and a master’s in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Wheeler is a longtime community volunteer leader who has worked with diverse organizations including Neighborhood House, Portland Mountain Rescue, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Oregon Sports Authority.

The OSU lectureship is named after Tom McCall, who was Oregon’s governor from 1967-75.

Notable speakers from different careers have included Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, Washington Post columnists David Broder and William Raspberry; Oregon political analyst Floyd McKay; Dennis Dimick of National Geographic magazine, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The McCall Lecture is presented by the OSU College of Liberal Arts.

Story By: 

David Bernell, 541-737-6281

Multimedia Downloads

Ted Wheeler
Ted Wheeler

Workshops on social change held May 11 and 12

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Acclaimed singer/songwriters Carrie Newcomer and Libby Roderick will lead two writing workshops on social change May 11-12 in Corvallis. The workshops are sponsored by Oregon State University’s Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word.

Newcomer and Roderick will be in Corvallis to perform at the concert, “This Land Is Our Land: Music of Environmental and Social Change.”

Newcomer and Roderick have offered workshops around the country. Each workshop costs $20, or $10 for students, and is limited to 25 participants. To register, visit the Spring Creek website.

The workshops are:

  • Writing workshop with Carrie Newcomer: “Writing Mindfully: Exploring the Sacred Ordinary for Social Change,” Friday, May 11, 1-4 p.m., Memorial Union Room 211. Prose, poetry, essay, journal and song writers of all experience levels are welcome to explore writing in this workshop.
  • Songwriting workshop with Libby Roderick, “Singing for Our Lives: Songwriting for Social Change”, Saturday, May 12, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Troubadour Music, 521 S.W. 2nd, Corvallis. Bring examples of your favorite songs for social change and explore the role and process of writing songs that help transform the world.
Story By: 

Charles Goodrich, 541-737-6198

OSU English instructor awarded Oregon Book Award

PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon State University faculty member George Estreich was awarded the Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction at a ceremony last night in Portland for his memoir, "The Shape of the Eye: Down Syndrome, Family, and the Stories We Inherit.”

Estreich’s book focuses on the first year of his daughter’s life following her diagnosis of Down syndrome. He is an instructor of English at OSU.

Marjorie Sandor, professor of English and director of OSU’s Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing, was nominated for her book “The Late Interiors: A Life Under Construction.”

Two releases by OSU Press were also nominees: Glenn Anthony May’s book, “Sonny Montes and Mexican American Activism in Oregon,” and Portland author Brian Doyle’s book, “Mink River.”

The Oregon Book Awards is a program of Literary Arts, a statewide, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the importance of language.

Story By: 

Lawrence Rodgers, 541-737-4581

Multimedia Downloads

George Estreich
George Estreich