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Samantha Sanft

Ph.D. Student in Anthropology

Samantha Sanft

Educational Background

Sam received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011 and her M.A. in Archaeology from Cornell in 2013.



Samantha Sanft is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropological archaeology. Her research focuses on systems of exchange in northeastern North America circa 1400-1600 CE. She uses artifact analyses, radiocarbon dating, and chronological modeling to explain when, how, and why Haudenosaunee peoples did and did not incorporate nonlocal objects into their communities. Sam’s work pushes current scholarship to consider how socio-political relations affected who participated in certain exchange systems and why, challenging the idea of a homogenous Haudenosaunee region, and instead highlighting the diversity within and among settlements, communities, and nations.

In her dissertation, “The Entanglement of Shell and Copper Objects: A Regional Perspective on Exchange in the Sixteenth Century Northeast”, Sam analyzes existing artifact collections and utilizes various archaeological science techniques including AMS radiocarbon dating, Bayesian chronological modeling, radiograph imaging, x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and GIS mapping.

Sam is also a member of the NSF-funded Dating Iroquoia project.


anthropological archaeology, northeastern North America, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) archaeology and history, systems of exchange, material culture studies


  • Archaeology Program
  • Anthropology


Fall 2022


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