For nearly a quarter century Distinguished Professor of Anthropology James Skibo has focused on understanding the relationship between people and things.
Skibo will give the Distinguished Professorship Lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, in the Prairie Room at the Bone Student Center. The talk, From the Mountains of the Philippines to the Shores of Lake Superior: An Archaeologist’s Quest to Understand the Relationship Between People and Things, is free and open to the public.
“Most people have the good sense to forget about their trash once it is thrown away; to archaeologists, however, this refuse – represented by broken pieces of pottery, crumbled buildings, or long forgotten remnants of someone’s meal – are windows into the past. It is from these broken pieces of past lives that we work to reconstruct how people once lived,” he said.
Honored with an Excellence in Archaeological Analysis Award from the Society for American Archaeology, Skibo has gained a reputation as a groundbreaking scholar through the study of living peoples, through the excavation of archaeological sites, and through the use of various technical analyses on pottery – the most common artifact found since the Neolithic Period.
Scholars researching pottery turn to his works, Understanding Pottery Function as well as Pottery Function: A Use-Alteration Perspective, which resulted from his time in the Philippines among the Kalinga – a group of people still making and using pottery at the household level. Students exploring archeology also learn from his work Ants for Breakfast: Archaeological Adventures Among the Kalinga.
He is also the author of People and Things: A Behavioral Approach to Material Culture with Michael Schiffer, and The Joyce Well Site: On the Frontier of the Casas Grandes World with William Walker and Eugene McCluney. Skibo and Walker collaborated on a National Science Foundation sponsored excavation of the Joyce Well site in the American Southwest. His work has resulted in 10 authored or edited books and over 40 peer-reviewed articles.
In 2001 Skibo initiated a project in the Upper Peninsula on Grand Island off the south shore of Lake Superior. Supported by the Department of Agriculture Hiawatha National Forest, this project, co-directed with Eric Drake, focuses on a region of North America that has seen little archaeological research. More than 200 sites have been identified on Grand Island, and the project has intensively excavated five sites from 2,000 B.C. All projects are conducted as archaeological field schools with students from Illinois State and elsewhere.
Skibo co-edits the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, which is rated one of the top five archaeology journals in the world. He also edits the book series Foundations of Archaeological Inquiry for the University of Utah Press. Skibo is co-director with Gina Hunter of the Old Main Project.
For more information, contact the Office of the Provost at 438-7018.