Sandra Peacock

Associate Professor Emerita


Research Summary

Relationship between people and the plant world; the use, classification, and management of plants for food, medicine, materials, and spiritual purposes

Courses & Teaching

ANTH 104: Introduction to Archaeology
ANTH 111: Introduction to Biological Anthropology
ANTH 227: Culture, Health and Illness (team teaching)
ANTH 241: The Archaeology of Native North America
ANTH 251: World Prehistory
ANTH 260: Ethnobotany: People and Plants
ANTH 342: Human Osteology
ANTH 411: Archaeology of a Special Area in the Americas
Anth 460: Paleoethnobotany


B.A. (Hons. Archaeology, University of Calgary, 1988)
M.A. (Archaeology, University of Calgary, 1992)
Ph.D. (Interdisciplinary Studies [Environmental Studies, Geography and Anthropology], University of Victoria, 1998)

Research Interests & Projects

Current Research

The Archaeology of Ancient Root Resource Use at the White Rock Springs Site, Hat Creek Valley, British Columbia. (B.C. Heritage Permit 2005-245)

  • Research Partners: Dr. Brian Kooyman, Professor, Dept. of Archaeology, University of Calgary; Dr. David Pokotylo, Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, UBC-Vancouver
  • Research Support for S. Peacock, Principal Investigator: SSHRC Institutional Grant ($4,396); UBC-O Grant in Aid; UBC-O Internal Research Grant
  • Special thanks to Peter and Bernadette McAllister, Twin Creeks Ranch, Hat Creek Valley, BC, for their generous in-kind contributions over the years.

The White Rock Springs site is an ancient root collecting and processing site we located in 2004 and began surveying and excavating in 2005/06. To date, we’ve identified 14 earth ovens – large, rock-lined basins filled with burnt wood, charred plants and fire-cracked rock – used by Plateau peoples to pit cook a variety of wild root foods. Excavations of 6 earth ovens indicate the site was in use at least 2,000 years ago until historic times (we are eagerly awaiting additional radiocarbon dates from the 2006 field season!). We are currently analyzing macrobotanical and microbotanical (phytoliths) remains to identify those plants used for fuel, matting and food.

Addressing the Question of Intensity: Paleoethnobotanical and Other Archaeological Evidence for Changing Patterns of Root Food Use in the Mid-Fraser River Region during the Late Prehistoric.

  • Research Partners: Dr. Brian Kooyman, Professor, Dept. of Archaeology, University of Calgary; Dr. David Pokotylo, Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, UBC-Vancouver
  • Research Support for S. Peacock, Principal Investigator: SSHRC ASU ($5500); SSHRC GRF ($3000); SSHRC Standard Research Grant ($201,000) submitted October 2005, recommended but not funded.

This collaborative research partnership will investigate the paleoethnobotanical and archaeological evidence for prehistoric plant use and intensification in the Mid-Fraser River region during the Late Prehistoric (4500 to 200 years before present). During this period, the region supported numerous large villages of socially complex hunter-gatherers. Wild plant foods played a significant role in the evolution of these communities, yet many questions remain concerning the nature, timing and intensity of prehistoric plant use. This is particularly true of the archaeological evidence for root food intensification, the focus of this proposed program of research

The Chaves-Hummingbird Pueblo Archaeobotany Project, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

  • Research Partners: Dr. Mike Adler, Department of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.
  • Research Support for S. Peacock: Okanagan University College Grant in Aid

As the project archaeobotanist, I am identifying and interpreting the prehistoric plant remains we collected during the 2002/03 excavations at this ancient Puebloan village directed by Dr. Mike Adler, Department of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University. The analysis is on-going.

Research Interests

  • Ethnobotany: The study of the relationship between people and the plant world; the use, classification and management of plants for food, medicine, materials and spiritual purposes
  • Paleoethnobotany: The recovery, identification and interpretation of ancient plant remains from the archaeological record
  • Archaeology of the Plateau & the American Southwest, with theoretical and methodological specialization in issues of plant resource intensification and the emergence of complex hunter-gatherers and first farmers
  • TEK: Specifically, the traditional land and resource stewardship practices of Native American; applications of traditional Indigenous knowledge to land tenure issues, resource co-management agreements and the protection of cultural heritage resources

Selected Publications & Presentations

  • From Complex to Simple: Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) and the Chemistry of Traditional Plateau Pit-cooking Technology. Canadian Journal of Botany. (In press, 2007)
  • Black Holes and Plateau Paleoethnobotany. In: Archaeology, edited by David Hurst Thomas, Robert L. Kelly and Peter Dawson. Thompson/Wadsworth. (In press)
  • Solving the Perennial Paradox: Ethnobotanical Evidence for Plant Resource Management on the Northwest Coast. Turner, N.J. and S.L. Peacock. In: Traditions of Plant Use and Management on the Northwest Coast. D.E. Duer and N.J. Turners, editors, pp. 95-127. Seattle: University of Washington Press. (2005)

A Question of Intensity: Exploring the Role of Plant Foods in Northern Plateau Prehistory. Lepofsky, D. and S.L. Peacock. In: Complex Hunter-Gatherers: Evolution and Organization of Prehistoric Communities on the Plateau of Northwestern North America. W. Prentiss and I. Kuijt, editors, pp. 115-139. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. (2004)

Perusing the Pits: The Evidence for Prehistoric Root Resource Processing on the Canadian Plateau. In: Hunter-Gatherer Archaeobotany: Perspectives from the Northern Temperate Zone. S.L.R. Mason and J.G. Hather, editors, pp. 45-63. Institute of Archaeology Occasional Publications. London: Archetype Publications. (2002)

Professional Services/Affiliations/Committees

  • Board of Directors, Society of Ethnobiology
  • Member, Canadian Archaeological Association
  • Member, Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia


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