Hetty Jo Brumbach

Office: Arts & Sciences Building, Room 201
Ph: (518) 442-4700
E-mail: hbrumbach@albany.edu
Ph.D., University at Albany, SUNY, 1978
Curriculum Vitae

Hetty Jo Brumbach

Archaeology and ecology. Theories of environmental adaptation: settlement and subsistence pattern study. Social archaeology. Ceramic analysis. Ethnoarchaeology: hunter-gatherer ecology and social organization, decision making. Museology: management and study of archaeological collections, museum-oriented teaching and interpretation. Archeology of gender.

Areas: North American archaeology, especially Eastern United States and Canada. North American ethnology, Native peoples of Arctic and Subarctic Canada and United States

Research Statement

Most of my research has focused on the Northeast, especially the prehistory of the Iroquois and Algonquian-speaking peoples and their predecessors of central New York and the Hudson River valley. Through archaeology, I have addressed issues concerning fishing adaptations, the relationship between material culture and ethnicity, the adoption of plant domesticates, and changing ecological adjustments due to population nucleation and sedentism. My recent research with Dr. John Hart of the New York State Museum and Robert Thompson of the University of Minnesota focuses on the study of early maize and other plant use by peoples of central New York. The materials for this research include burned-on food residues recovered from the interior of ceramic sherds, the residues can be AMS dated and also studied for the presence of phytoliths (microscopic plant structures).

I also have interests in ethnoarchaeology, or the melding of participant observation of on-going populations with an archaeological interest in the material consequences of behavior. I have been carrying out fieldwork (jointly with Dr. Robert Jarvenpa) in contemporary Native communities in Subarctic Canada. This work gives me the opportunity to observe and study the dynamic behaviors associated with processes of site selection, resource procurement, decision making, discard, and related activities, which archaeologists conventionally recover only as static residues. Our research also emphasizes gender relations, using ethnoarchaeological approaches to clarify the role of women in hunting, fishing, and gathering economies. To further this work, Bob Jarvenpa and I extended the project to study the roles of women in four circumpolar societies: Chipewyan hunters and fishers of north-central Saskatchewan, Canada; Khanty reindeer herders of western Siberia; Sami reindeer herders of northwestern Finland and adjacent Norway; and Inupiaq marine hunters of the Bering Strait, Alaska.

Funding for my research has derived from several sources, including the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, United States Environmental Protection Agency, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, National Museums of Canada (now the Canadian Museum of Civilization), Canadian Embassies, and the University at Albany.


  • Introductory Archaeology
  • Laboratory Methods in Archaeology
  • Ceramic Analysis
  • Method and Theory in Archaeology
  • Eastern Woodlands Prehistory
  • Field School in Archaeology
  • Archaeology of Gender/Women
  • Museum Curation and Research
  • Ethnoarchaeology


Click on the headings below for selected project highlights:

  • Ethnoarchaeology of an Inter-Cultural Frontier
  • Ethnoarchaeology and Gender
  • Comparative Ethnoarchaeology of Gender and Subsistence

Select Publications Since 2000

Edited Volumes

In press:
Brumbach, Hetty Jo and Jarvenpa, Robert. Circumpolar Lives and Livelihood: A Comparative Ethnoarchaeology of Gender and Subsistence. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Articles and Book Chapters

Under review:
Brumbach, Hetty Jo and Jarvenpa, Robert. Hunter-Gatherers. In Handbook of Gender in Archaeology. Submitted to AltaMira Press, Sarah M. Nelson (ed).

In press:
Brumbach, Hetty Jo and Jarvenpa, Robert. Chipewyan Hunters: A Task Differentiation Analysis. In Circumpolar Lives and Livelihood: A Comparative Ethnoarchaeology of Gender and Subsistence. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Brumbach, Hetty Jo, Thompson, Robert, Hart, John, and Lusteck, Robert. Phytolith evidence for twentieth-century B.P. maize in northern Iroquoia. Northeast Anthropology 68:25-40.

Brumbach, Hetty Jo and Hart, John. The Death of Owasco. American Antiquity 68(4):737-752.

Brumbach, Hetty Jo, Hart, John, and Thompson, Robert. Phytolith Evidence for Early Maize (Zea mays) in the Northern Finger Lakes Region of New York. American Antiquity 68(4):619-640.

Brumbach, Hetty Jo and Bender, Susan. Woodland Period Settlement and Subsistence Change in the Upper Hudson River Valley. In Northeast Subsistence-Settlement Change: A.D. 700-1300. New York State Museum Bulletin 496, The University of the State of New York. John P. Hart and Christina B. Rieth (eds). Pp. 227-239. New York State Museum Monograph Series, Albany, New York.

Brumbach, Hetty Jo and Jarvenpa, Robert. Gender Dynamics in Native Northwestern North America: Perspectives and Prospects. In: Many Faces of Gender: Roles and Relationships Through Time, in Indigenous Northern Communities. Lisa Frink, Rita S. Shepard and Gregory A. Reinhardt (eds). Pp. 195-210. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.

Brumbach, Hetty Jo and Jarvenpa, Robert. Gender Roles Shed Light on Ancient Subsistence Cultures. Witness the Arctic 8(1):10.


Gaskin's Reef and River Edge South: A Multicomponent Woodland Period Site on the Seneca River, Town of Lysander, Onondaga County, New York. Hartgen Archeological Associates, Prepared for Empire State Development Corporation, 633 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10017-6754.