Geoscience Horizons

Press Release

Kansas Geological Survey

For Immediate Release
Oct. 13, 2003

Story by Rex Buchanan
(785) 864-2106
For more information, contact
Rolfe Mandel, (785) 864-2171
Kansas Geological Survey
Publications and Public Affairs

Mandel Recognized for Work in Geoarcheology

LAWRENCE--Rolfe Mandel, a geoarcheologist from the Kansas Geological Survey and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kansas, is being honored with two awards at an upcoming meeting of the Geological Society of America.

Mandel will be given the George "Rip" Rapp Archaeological Geology Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to the interdisciplinary field of archeological geology. He has also been elected as a Fellow of the Geological Society of America.

The awards will be presented at the Society's annual meeting in early November in Seattle. Established in 1888, the Geological Society of America has more than 16,000 members in 85 counties and is among the largest professional earth-science societies in the world.

Geoarcheology is the application of concepts and methods of the earth sciences to the study of archeological sites and the processes involved in the creation of the archeological record. "These two awards recognize Rolfe Mandel as one of the pre-eminent leaders in the field of geoarcheology," said Survey director Lee Allison. "Rolfe is making tremendous contributions to the science, and to the Survey, KU, and the state of Kansas."

Mandel came to KU in 2002 as a project coordinator for the Survey's program in geoarcheology and Quaternary (or recent) geology and as an associate professor in the KU Anthropology Department. He is executive director of KU's Odyssey Archeological Research Program, which studies the geology and archeology of the midcontinent of North America in search of the earliest evidence of humans in the region.

Mandel and other researchers use techniques such as systematic surveys of drainage areas to find and date sediments. By identifying the age of deposits deeply buried in such places as river valleys, they hope to discover ancient traces of human activity.

"The midcontinent is an important region for understanding the timing and nature of the peopling of the New World," said Mandel. "The important question is whether people arrived in the New World before 11,500 years ago. The answer may be hidden in the sediments of this vast region." Prior to coming to KU, Mandel taught at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and did extensive consulting on archeological projects in Kansas and the midwest. He was also a research associate at the Center for Public Affairs at KU. In addition to his work on the Great Plains, Mandel has been involved with geoarcheological investigations in Ohio, the Big Bend region of Texas, Egypt, Jordan, and Cyprus.

Mandel has a Ph.D. and M.A. from KU and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas-Austin. He is the editor-in-chief of the journal "Geoarchaeology" and editor of the book Geoarchaeology in the Great Plains, published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2001.

"Rolfe's expertise in geoarcheology has added an exciting and new dimension to KU's anthropology program," said Jim Mielke, chair of KU's Anthropology Department. "The awards are well-deserved recognitions of the seminal and ground-breaking nature of Rolfe's research."

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