February 21, 2017 at 10:01 am

Anthropology Alum Studies Shifts and Transitions in Agriculture and Culture

Andrew Wieland sitting at his desk with microscope next to his arm and shelfs and door behind him

Andrew Weiland

Andrew Weiland is a Ph.D. candidate in Ohio State University’s Department of Anthropology, specializing in archaeology. Generally, he is interested in socio-ecological systems: how culturally influenced behaviors affect ecological systems, and vice-versa.

Domestication of Native Crops

More specifically, Weiland studies North American prehistoric shifts to various types of agriculture: domestication of native crops, and the later adoption of maize-based systems. He does this by looking at seeds and wood from archaeological soils, along with analyzing silicified plant cells from soils and pottery sherds known as phytoliths.

Weiland graduated with his B.A. in Anthropology in 2004 from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University.

Researching Transitions

He is currently working on samples from Hopewell Mound Group (A.D. 1-400) at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park near Chillicothe, OH, to better understand the vegetation growing among the earthworks there.

For his dissertation, he researches the maize transition that occurred around A.D. 1000 during the cultural transition from the Late Woodland (A.D. 400-1000) to the Fort Ancient (A.D. 1000-1650).

He does this work through OSU and for the National Park Service, so he gets plenty of opportunities to teach students and visitors about what archaeologists do.

The Best Part

In addition to the excitement of research, Weiland’s favorite part of his career is talking to the general public about what he and his colleagues do.

“Although archaeology can sometimes seem esoteric,” he says, “a short conversation with interested friends or family quickly demonstrates that the themes of cross-cultural exchange, sustainability, adaptability, and innovation are consistently important throughout time.”

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