Thomas J. Pluckhahn
This biographical article is written like a résumé. (October 2010)
St. Paul, Minnesota
Thomas Pluckhahn is an assistant professor of the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida. His areas of specialization in the field of anthropology include Eastern United States Prehistory, Mesoamerican Prehistory, Cultural Resource Management, Settlement Pattern Studies, Archaeology of Households, Environmental Anthropology, Ceramic Analysis, and GIS Applications for Anthropology.
Pluckhahn was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1966. In 1984 he received an alumni scholarship to the University of Georgia, from which he graduated in 1988 with an A.B., cum laude with honors in Anthropology.
From 1989 until 1992 he worked as an archaeological field technician for various firms in the eastern United States and Europe. From 1993 until 1994 Pluckhahn worked as a Project Archaeologist for Brockington and Associates in Norcross, Georgia. He then became a consulting archaeologist for Southern Research at Fort Stewart Military Reservation in Georgia, as well as a senior archaeologist for Southern Archaeological Services, Athens, Georgia. He served in the latter position until 2003. After two years Pluckhahn returned to his alma mater in 1996 to become a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Georgia.
While working as a teaching assistant Pluckhahn did some fieldwork at the Shoulderbone Tract located in Hancock County. While the work was not long, only lasting from January sixth until the end of the month it would provide the basis for his first fully published book. Written in 1997 "An archeological Survey of the Shoulderbone Tract, Hancock County, Georgia" describes the work that was done in the Shoulderbone Tract of Hancock County which was made up a mound complex located on a terrace north of Whitten Creek. While Pluckhahn described the work as “minimal, and focusing on defining and demarcating the limits of the site so that it may be fenced.” he does go on to admit that “Most of the fieldwork, however was devoted to an extensive archeological survey of the property.”
In the following year of 1998, Pluckhahn became an instructor at Georgia. In 1999 Pluckhahn became the field supervisor at the Mixteca Alta Settlement Pattern Survey in Oaxaca, Mexico. In the same year he traveled back east to become the field director of the Kolomoki: Learning about a Woodland Ceremonial Center located in Georgia. During this time he helped excavate the famed mound site of Kolomoki in the lower Chattahoochee River Valley of southwest Georgia. From 1999 until 2001 he served as a field director at Kolomoki in a study founded by the National Geographic Society.
During his time at Kolomoki, Pluckhahn worked with others to excavate the site of Kolomoki examining everything from pottery to the mounds themselves. This excavation was intended to discover how Native Americans lived during Kolomoki’s days as an important cultural center. After extensive studies on the evidence uncovered during the excavation, an important discovery was made involving the dating that had previously been applied. Before the excavation, previous archaeologists had placed the date of the Kolomoki mounds in the Mississippian Period (c. 1000-1500 AD), but Dr. Pluckhahn however, discovered that the main date of occupation was closer to the Woodland Period (c. 350-750 AD).
In 2002, Thomas earned his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, writing his dissertation on his experiences and findings at Kolomoki. After working as an instructor for Georgia, Pluckhahn became the visiting assistant professor of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma in 2003. He served in this position until 2004, when he became the assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology.
While at Oklahoma Pluckhahn released "Kolomoki: Settlement, Ceremony, and Status in the Deep South, A.D. 350 to 750". He applied his fieldwork from the Kolomoki site, as well as his discoveries of the new timeline of the Kolomoki mounds. The analysis in the book supports the evidence of Kolomki’s actual occupation, while also answering questions about middle range societies, their use of ceremony and its effect on status.
Light on the Path, book
Pluckhahn served as the visiting assistant professor of the Department of Anthropology until 2004, when he became the assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. He served in this position for two more years. In 2006 he released the book "Light on the Path: The Anthropology and History of the Southeastern Indians". In this book Pluckhahn, along with Robbie Ethridge, provide new ideas for viewing the history of Native Americans in the Southeast.
A major component of the book deals with the recent ability to connect the periods of the sixteenth-century Late Mississippian period to the eighteenth-century colonial period. Pluckhahn and Ethridge claim in the book to be able to bridge the two centuries together, while filling in the previously mysterious seventeenth-century. This linkage has provided a crucial new way to view the ancestry of the southeastern United States that is invaluable to not only archaeologist and anthropologist, but historians as well.
Awards and grants
Pluckhahn has received a number of awards and grants throughout his career. They include:
- The Legacy Grant from the Department of Defense for his work on Survey Testing and Damage Assessment of the Lewis mound and Village Site (9BN39) at the Fort Stewart Military Reservation (1996)
- An Honorable Mention, Student Paper Competition, from the Southeast Archaeological Conference (1999)
- The Joshua Laerm Award from the Georgia Museum of Natural History (2001)
- The C.B. Moore Award from the Lower Mississippi Survey, Peabody Museum for “Outstanding Young Archaeologist in the Field of Southeastern Archaeology” (2004)
- The Oklahoma Humanities Council, with matching funds from the University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences and Vice President for Research (2005)
- The Faculty Research Grant, from the University of Oklahoma in 2005
- The Explorer Grant for Examining Household Level Change in the Middle to Late Woodland Transition: The View From Kolomoki from the National Geographic Society (2005)
- The Faculty Research and Development Grant from University of South Florida for the Analysis of Ceramic Vessels from the Archaeological Site of Kolomoki (2007)
- The Humanities Institute from the University of South Florida for The Household Change in the Middle to Late Woodland Transitions: The View from Kolomoki (2007).
Selected articles and books
- Kolomoki: Settlement, Ceremony, and Status in the Deep South, c. 350 to 750 AD. Thomas J. Pluckhahn. 2003. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa
- Light on the Path: The Anthropology and History of the Southeastern Indians. University of Alabama Press,(Thomas J. Pluckhahn, and Robbie F. Ethridge editors). 2006. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa
- Origins of the Ñuu: Archaeology in the Mixteca Alta, Mexico. University Press of Colorado, Boulder..(Stephen A. Kowalewski,., Andrew K. Balkansky, Laura R. Stiver Walsh, Thomas J. Pluckhahn, John F. Chamblee, Verónica, Pérez Rodríguez, Verenice Y. Heredia Espinoza, and Charlotte A. Smith) 2006. University Press of Colorado, Boulder. Under contract.
- Reflections on Paddle Stamped Pottery: Symmetry Analysis of Swift Creek Paddle Designs from Kolomoki. 2007. Southeastern Archaeology 26(1):1-11.
- “The Mounds Themselves Might Be Perfectly Happy in Their Surroundings”: The “Kolomoki Problem” in Notesand Letters. The Florida Anthropologist 60(2-3):63-76.
- "Woodland Prehistoric Period", The New Georgia Encyclopedia. 2001. edited by John Inscoe. University of Georgia Press, Athens.
- "Kolomoki Mounds Site", The New Georgia Encyclopedia. 2001. edited by John Inscoe. University of Georgia Press. Athens. Fifty Years Since Sears: Deconstructing the Domestic Sphere at Kolomoki. 2000. Southeastern Archaeology 19(2):145-155.
- Transportation Corridors and Political Evolution in Highland Mesoamerica: Settlement Analyses Incorporating GIS for Northern Tlaxcala, Mexico. 2007. (David Manuel Carballo, and Thomas J. Pluckhahn) Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 26(4):607-629.
- (Pluckhahn CV)
- (Pluckhahn 25)
- (Pluckhahn iii)
- (Kolomoki Pluckhahn)
- Pluckhahn, Thomas J. Kolomoki: settlement, ceremony, and status in the Deep South, AD 350 to 750 Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press. 2003
- Light on the Path : the anthropology and history of the southern Indians Edited by Pluckhahn, Thomas J. and Robbie Ethridge. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 2006.
- Pluckhahn, Thomas J. An Archeological survey of the shoulderbone tract, Hancock County Georgia Atlanta, Georgia: Georgia Department of Transportation, Office of Environment/ Location, 1997
- Thomas J. Pluckhahn’s Curriculum Vita