Origin and Evolution of Life
These disciplines investigate the interactions be-
tween life and environments throughout Earth’s histo-
ry. Principles of paleontology form the foundation that
bridges geologic, biologic, chemical, and anthropolog-
Geobiology relies on analysis of fossils in their geo-
logic, and thus historical and environmental contexts
to test hypotheses about the history of life.
Geoarchaeology and geoanthropology focus on the
spatial, temporal, and environmental context of hu-
mans in the most recent phases of Earth history.
The IU Paleontology Collection, which contains more
than 1.3 million fossil specimens, offers special oppor-
tunities for specimen-based research, teaching, and
outreach. 24 | hgr
geobiology, geoarchaeology, paleontology
Ed Herrmann, Claudia Johnson, Jackson Njau, David Polly
ED HERRMANN Research Scientist | Geoarchaeology
Ed’s geoarchaeological research is naturally interdisci-
plinary. Although his work is focused on archaeological
questions, he incorporates datasets from a number of
geologic fields such as geomorphology, sedimentology,
pedology, cartography, paleontology, geophysics, and
river basin research. These fields are important compo-
nents of understanding the chronology and preservation
potential for archaeological sites at various time scales.
Geoarchaeology is a rapidly growing subfield of geolog-
ical and archaeological sciences. The multidisciplinary
field addresses archaeological questions by incorpo-
rating geological principles and methods into research
design. Geoarchaeologists study sediments, soils, geo-
physical techniques, stone tools and lithic sources, pa-
leoenvironments, and archaeological site taphonomy. In
the past year, Ed has worked to decipher the stratigra-
phy and chronology of archaeological sites in Montana,
Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and in the cradle of humanity: Old-
uvai Gorge, Tanzania.
Geoarchaeological work at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
Along with Jackson Njau and EAS re-
search affiliates Nick Toth and Kathy
Schick of the Stone Age Institute, Ed is
working on the Olduvai Project which
studies millions of years of stratigra-
phy using deep coring methods that
provide data related to the paleoen-
vironments within which some of our
oldest ancestors lived. These data can
also provide an understanding of lake
levels and positions, volcanic activity,
and local and regional geomorphology.
Geoarchaeological methods are also being used at Old-
uvai to understand the distribution and sources of stone
raw material used by our earliest human ancestors, and
where yet undiscovered sites may be hidden. Many EAS
faculty members and students are actively participating
in the Olduvai Project and field school.
Left: Field school with Crow students under
the recently discovered Grapevine Creek Buf-
falo Jump. Note colluvium beneath cliff.
Middle: Bison bone bed preserved under col-
luvium at Grapevine Creek Buffalo Jump on
the Crow Reservation.
Right: Ed (far right) lectures to workshop
visitors at the HEB site, Olduvai Gorge, Tan-
zania. hgr | 25