-Frontiers- in Archaeological Sciences 3: Rethinking the Paradigm

When: October 7-9, 2022

Where: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853

Hosted by: The Archaeological Science Group at Cornell (ArchSci@Cornell), the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Materials Studies (CIAMS), and the CIAMS Anti-colonialism and Anti-racism (ARCO) Interest Group.

What: A bold post-COVID restart meeting to address the role of cutting-edge archaeological science research and its intersections with theory and practice in archaeology. This conference is a re-launch from a conference previously held at Rutgers University (New Jersey, USA) in 2017 and at Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, Canada) in 2018. The Frontiers in Archaeological Sciences conference series was initiated to bring together senior scholars and up-and-coming researchers to showcase cutting-edge research in all applications of STEM techniques to archaeology.  

“Frontiers in Archaeological Sciences 3: Rethinking the Paradigm” represents an intervention - a venue to discuss, confront, and reshape the role of the archaeological sciences in archaeology for a new generation. The ‘archaeological sciences' today face a range of complex and interlocking challenges. The need to confront a disciplinary history and practice still shaped by colonialism is urgent, while laboratory work continues to present difficult questions of interpretation and communication. Closer examination of these presents an opportunity to improve archaeological science not just from a scientific perspective, but also from an anthropological and ethical one.

This work is already underway. Across the world, many scholars (including some who may not self-describe as archaeological scientists) are seeking to confront these challenges in unique ways: through Indigenous science, community-led research agendas, activist scholarship, creative public and cross-disciplinary communication, methodological innovation, and much more. “Frontiers in Archaeological Sciences 3: Rethinking the Paradigm” seeks to bring together these scholars with the next generation of researchers to interrogate practice and approach in order to chart a new course for the archaeological sciences - and their place in archaeology and in wider discourse - in the years to come.

Why "Rethinking the Paradigm"?

“Frontiers in Archaeological Sciences 3: Rethinking the Paradigm” seeks to bring together senior scholars committed to responsible archaeological practice with the next generation of researchers who will shape the discipline in the years to come. We aim to create a space for reimagining the role of the archaeological sciences in archaeology, for stakeholder communities, and for the broader public. 

“Rethinking the Paradigm” also requires rethinking the terminology we use to discuss “cutting edge” science. The first part of this conference title comes from the conference series “Frontiers in Archaeological Sciences.” “Frontier” is often utilized to describe the future of innovations in science but has become an inadvertent acquiescence to a Western-centric concept of “modernity”. The context of this use of “Frontier” is rooted in a history of white-settler colonialism and its use to describe unknown and unconquered spaces. To uncritically frame our work in this way is to downplay and valorize the 17th-19th century genocide of Indigenous peoples across the “Americas”. We do not wish to brush the naming conventions of the conference series under the rug simply by replacing the word “Frontier.” Rather, with the active strikethrough of “Frontier,” we hope to invoke a generative anti-colonial discomfort that will help us confront these biases and contribute to the overall goals of this conference.

We envision the archaeological sciences as essential to the broader field of archaeology and aim to make archaeological scientists leaders in generating anti-colonial archaeological research and communication. By encouraging discussions around the role of colonialism and imperialism in the shaping of archaeology and STEM, we hope to foster a more socially aware approach rooted in anti-colonial and de-colonial theory. 

In ‘rethinking the paradigm,’ we hope to create a more inclusive space within the archaeological sciences. Diversification of practitioner backgrounds, theoretical and methodological frameworks, and cultural perspectives within archaeological practice, along with increased implementation of responsible, ethical practice will allow archaeological scientists to better reflect and represent the peoples we study and profess to benefit. This includes, but is not limited to, encouraging the use of archaeological science, both by Indigenous and descendant communities and by non-Indigenous as allies, to support land, water, and human rights, community interests, and data sovereignty.

We hope to convey that the scientific questions that practitioners of the archaeological sciences ask are also fundamentally intertwined with the humanities and social sciences, and that scientific progress cannot be divorced from issues of social justice. By striving to minimize the use of overly complex jargon and obtuse statistics while maintaining scientific rigor, we aim to foster greater science communication within archaeology and beyond to the public through clearer methods and interpretations, improved accessibility, and greater social and scientific impact.

Keynote (Public Lecture)

From Science to Service: Using Archaeology for Reclamation and Restorative Justice

7:00PM, Saturday, October 8, 2022, Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium (Klarman Hall)

Speaker: Dr. Kisha Supernant (Métis/Papaschase/British), Director, Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology and Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada

Abstract: Archaeology in North America has long been associated with colonial, extractive practices, where the materials, landscapes, and bodies of Indigenous people were seen as specimens and objects of study for archaeological science. The long-standing and ongoing critique of archaeology by Indigenous and other systemically excluded voices has led to changes in archaeological sciences, but the harmful legacy of past research has not always been adequately addressed. In this talk, I explore how archaeologists are using archaeological science as service to reorient their work toward reclamation and restorative justice. Drawing on case studies from my own work with Indigenous communities in Canada, I explore how taking a heart-centered approach can transform archaeology from an extractive practice to a restorative one.

Dr. Supernant will be joining us virtually for this event.

This lecture is free and open to the public. 

Registration - CLOSED

Registration has now closed. Our keynote lecture on Saturday, October 8, at 7PM EST is open to the public in-person and via Zoom webinar.

Please email us at archsci.frontiers3@gmail.com with questions or concerns about registration.

Conference fees 

With immense gratitude to our co-sponsors, we are pleased to make conference registration FREE for junior scholars. 

Registration is not required to attend the keynote lecture on Saturday, October 8, which will be free and open to the public.

Registration group Fee
Junior scholar (current student or 5 or fewer years beyond terminal degree) $0 with registration
Regular attendee $50

Discounted regular attendee (co-sponsor representatives)

1-day regular attendee $20


Invited Speakers

Dr. Sabrina Agarwal, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Shadreck Chirikure, Professor and Head of the Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town, South Africa, and British Academy Global Professor, University of Oxford, UK,

Bedone Mugabe, Graduate Student, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Dr. Alexia Smith, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut

Dr. S. Margaret Spivey-Faulkner (Pee Dee), Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada

Trent Trombley, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

Conference Schedule

View and download the conference schedule at this link.  

Travel and Accommodations

Ithaca Tompkins airport is located 15 minutes from downtown Ithaca and has flights arriving from Philadelphia, Detroit and Newark. Syracuse Hancock International Airport is 1 hour and 15 minutes from downtown Ithaca and will likely have cheaper flights than Ithaca. Bus connections between Syracuse and Ithaca are possible using OurBus or Greyhound. OurBus and Greyhound both also offer bus services between Ithaca and New York City.

We are also looking at the possibility of coordinating carpools for conference attendees traveling from similar locations. If you are interested, please email archsci.frontiers3@gmail.com.

Parking & Local Transportation

Parking on Cornell's campus is free after 5PM on weekdays and all day on weekends unless signage indicates otherwise. Weekday on-campus parking is available and payable using the Parkmobile App. 

Further information on visitor parking can be found at this link.

A map of Parkmobile lots can be found at this link

Local transportation within Tompkins County is available via the TCAT bus system. Maps and schedules can be found on the TCAT website. The closest bus stops to the conference venue are Goldwin Smith Hall, Rockefeller Hall (across the street from Goldwin Smith Hall/Klarman Hall), and Uris Hall/Uris Hall Across the Street, a short walk from Goldwin Smith Hall/Klarman Hall.

We have limited opportunities for conference attendees to be hosted by Cornell graduate students. If you are interested, please email archsci.frontiers3@gmail.com. 

A list of hotels in Ithaca:

  • Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
  • Hilton Garden Inn Ithaca
  • Canopy by Hilton Ithaca Downtown
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton 
  • The Hotel Ithaca
  • Best Western University Inn
  • Hampton Inn Ithaca
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Ithaca
  • Quality Inn Ithaca - University Area

A list of hotels in Cortland (about 30 min drive to Cornell):

  • Holiday Inn Express Cortland
  • Quality Inn University Area
  • Fairfield by Marriot Inn & Suites
  • Best Western Plus Finger Lakes Inn & Suites
  • Hampton Inn Cortland

Food & Drink 

Food will be available during the conference itself, but for additional food needs, including before and after the conference, the Collegetown neighborhood (10min walk through campus) and Ithaca Commons (in the downtown area, accessible by bus) have a variety of cafes, restaurants, and convenience stores. GreenStar Co-Op operates small grocery stores in both neighborhoods. Amit Bhatia Libe Cafe in Olin Library (a 2-minute walk from the conference location) is the closest alternate food location. 

Organizing Committee and Co-Sponsors

Organizing Committee

The conference organizing committee consists of members of CIAMS's two graduate affiliate groups, the Archaeological Science Group at Cornell (ArchSci@Cornell) and the Anti-Racism and Anti-Colonialism (ARCO) Interest Group.

  • Rebecca Gerdes (Committee Chair)
  • Sturt Manning (Faculty Convener)
  • Claire Challancin
  • Amanda Domingues
  • Sam Disotell
  • Liam McDonald
  • Annapaola Passerini
  • Ruth Portes
  • Alex Symons
  • Anna Whittemore
  • Alice Wolff
  • Marina Zafiris

With special thanks to Adam Smith, Matthew Velasco, and Maia Dedrick.


Frontiers in Archaeological Sciences 3 is proudly co-sponsored by a wide range of student organizations, departments, and units from multiple colleges across Cornell as well as organizations beyond Cornell that reflect the interdisciplinarity of the archaeological sciences and the mission of the conference: 

Internal sponsors:

External sponsors:

Academic Review Committee

Dr. Francesco Berna, Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada

Dr. Dan Cabanes, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University, NJ

Dr. Maia Dedrick, Postdoctoral Fellow, Atkinson Center for Sustainability, Cornell University

Dr. Jillian Goldfarb, Associate Professor, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, CALS, Cornell University

Dr. John Henderson, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Cornell University

Dr. Brita Lorentzen, Research Associate and Lab Manager, Cornell Tree-Ring Laboratory, Department of Classics, Cornell University

Dr. Sara Juengst, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina Charlotte

Call for Papers and Posters - closed

The ‘archaeological sciences’ today face a storm of controversies on scientific, archaeological, and ethical grounds, spanning the whole research process from project planning to interpretation and publication. Frontiers in Archaeological Science 3: Rethinking the Paradigm brings together scholars from diverse disciplines within archaeology to tackle these problems through lively discussion. Following the Frontiers in Archaeological Science conferences held in 2017 at Rutgers and in 2018 at Simon Fraser University, Frontiers 3 represents a departure from the previous conferences in this series. While preserving an interest in cutting-edge scientific techniques, this conference is focused on ethical and theoretical issues in archaeological science. We welcome presentations of new research or critical engagement with existing themes or datasets. This conference is a venue to discuss, confront, and reshape the role of the archaeological sciences in archaeology for a new generation.

Possible topics for papers and posters include (but are not limited to):

  • Health & inequality
  • People & climate
  • Communicating archaeological science research (to the public; within academia; to, with, by, and for communities)
  • Ethics & archaeological science
  • Agriculture, foodways, & sustainability
  • Materials & technology

Submissions to Frontiers 3 can be either posters or presentations of original research. Presentations will be 15 minutes long and held in sessions of 3-4 presentations each, followed by a 20 minute moderated Q&A panel with all speakers from that session (rather than the traditional Q&A). Abstract submissions should abide by the Code of Ethics of the World Archaeological Congress and adhere to a high standard of scientific and ethical practice.


Abstract submission has closed. Decisions on submitted abstracts will be made by June 15, 2022. Questions about submissions should be directed to: archsci.frontiers3@gmail.com.

To streamline abstract submission, invited speakers should also submit their title and abstract to the email address above by the same deadline. 

RadioCIAMS podcast

RadioCIAMS is pleased to present a follow-up discussion from -Frontiers- in Archaeological Sciences 3: Rethinking the Paradigm conference hosted at Cornell University in the Fall of 2022. This discussion was hosted by CIAMS graduate students Rebecca Gerdes and Alice Wolff and included a panel of graduate students and early career researchers, including Rachel Kalisher, Chiamaka Anyanwu, Emily Milton, Hollis K. Miller.

RadioCIAMS · Panel: -Frontiers- in Archaeological Sciences 3: Rethinking the Paradigm

Land Acknowledgement

Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' (the Cayuga Nation). The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign Nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York state, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' dispossession, and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' people, past and present, to these lands and waters.

This land acknowledgment has been reviewed and approved by the traditional Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' leadership.