Roald H. Fryxell

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Roald H. Fryxell (February 18, 1934 – May 18, 1974) was an American educator, geologist and archaeologist.[1]


Roald Hilding Fryxell was the son of Fritiof Fryxell, a geologist and professor, and Regina Holmén Fryxell, an organist and music teacher, both on the faculty of Augustana College in Illinois, from which he graduated in 1956 with an A.B. degree in geology. In 1971 he completed his Ph.D. at the University of Idaho.[2]


Dr. Fryxell, known as "Fryx" by his friends, later became professor of geochronology at Washington State University. He was noted for his interdisciplinary work in geoarchaeology. During the 1960s Fryxell worked with two members of the U.S. Geological Survey under a National Science Foundation grant to study an archeological site named Hueyatlaco, at the north shore of the Valsequillo Reservoir, in the state of Puebla, Mexico. They discovered stone tools that they dated from 250,000 years ago. This finding was received with great skepticism by the archaeological community. [3]

In 1968 Fryxell was a co-principal investigator with Richard Daugherty (WSU) during the unearthing of the Marmes Rockshelter from the floodplain of the Palouse River near the confluence of the Palouse and Snake Rivers in southeastern Washington. The site was found to contain some of the oldest human remains in the western hemisphere at 12,000 years of age. [4]

In 1971 he was selected to be part of the team of geologists in Houston who examined rocks brought back from the Moon during the Apollo program. He was also the designer of the apparatus used for collecting core samples of the moon's surface. The lunar crater Fryxell is named after him.

Fryxell died in 1974 in a car accident, and his family chose to honor his memory by endowing the Fryxell Award for Interdisciplinary Research, given annually by the Society for American Archeology in recognition of interdisciplinary excellence by a scientist. The Society for American Archaeology also holds a Fryxell Symposium during their meetings. An overlook shelter at the Palouse Falls is also named after him, as is the Roald H. Fryxell Memorial Scholarship at Augustana College. At Washington State University, colleagues established the Roald Fryxell Publication Fund for the Department of Anthropology.[5] [6]


  • The Contribution of Inter Disciplinary Research to Geologic Investigation of Prehistory, Eastern Washington (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Geology, University of Idaho, Moscow. 1970)
  • Fryxell, Roald and Daugherty, R.D., Interim Report: Archaeological Salvage in the Lower Monumental Reservoir, Washington (1962, Washington State University, Pullman)
  • Fryxell, Roald, Mazama and Glacier Peak Volcanic Ash Layers: Relative Ages (Science, 147, 1965)
  • Fryxell, Roald, and Bennie C. Keel, Emergency Salvage Excavations for the Recovery of Early Human Remains and Related Scientific Materials from the Marmes Rockshelter Archaeological Site, Southeastern Washington, May 3—December 15, 1968 (Report to U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington State University)
  • Fryxell, Roald et al., A Human Skeleton from Sediments of Mid-Pinedale Age in Southeastern Washington (American Antiquity, 33, 1968)
  • V. Steen-McIntyre, R. Fryxell, and H.E. Maude, Geological Evidence for Age of Deposits of Huetatlaco Archeological Site, Valsequillo, Mexico (Quaternary Research, 16, 1981)
  • Fryxell, Roald, and Richard D. Daugherty, Demonstration of Techniques for Preserving Archaeological Stratigraphy (n.p., 1984)


  • Cocks, Elijah E.; Cocks, Josiah C. Who's Who on the Moon: A Biographical Dictionary of Lunar Nomenclature (Tudor Publishers. 1995) ISBN 0-936389-27-3.


  1. ^ Chad Pritchard. "An Overlook to Memorialize a Renowned Geologist". Ice Age Floods Explorer,. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Memorial to Roald Hilding Fryxell" (PDF). Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  3. ^ Steen-McIntyre, Fryxell and Malde. "Geologic Evidence for Age Deposits at Hueyatlaco Archaeological Site Valsequillo Mexico" (PDF). Quaternary Research 16: 1–1. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  4. ^ "The Marmes Rockshelter Site". Washington State University, Museum of Anthropology. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Fryxell Award for Interdisciplinary Research". Society for American Archaeology. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Roald H. Fryxell Memorial Geology Endowment". Augustana College - Restricted Purpose Endowment Funds. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 

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