Dr. Leland Gilsen welcomes you to Oregon‑Archaeology.com!

Northwest Coast archaeology, West Coast archaeology, Great Basin archaeology, and Great Plains archaeology all merge in Oregon because Oregon is where the Northwest Coast, Columbia Plateau, Inter-Mountain, Great Basin and California Chaparral ecological zones merge and form unique cultures.

Latest Additions

FYI: Added Housing


Photo of Pompeii
2013: Added Photos of Italy

This web site contains an introduction to Oregon archaeology with an emphasis on the prehistoric side. Prehistory simply means "before written records". The native peoples who lived here have oral traditions passed down through the generations. Archaeology is a tool that has opened up over 90 percent of our common human past. The world would be a poorer place without the context of who we are and where we came from. Without that background, how can we wisely plan our future? The past is our guide on how humanity has exploited our planet for its valued resources. Resources located in the environments consisting of physical (mostly material), biological (mostly energy), and cultural (mostly information) sub-environments.

Gallup Poll:

49% of Americans do not believe in human evolution

51% believe people lived at the same time as dinosaurs

85% think archaeologists study dinosaurs (paleontology)

2012 Pew survey:

20% (32% under age 30) are NONES..no religious affiliation

6% of these are atheists or agnostics and 14% unaffiliated

this is roughly 14.4 million atheist/agnostics and 33.6 million unaffiliated

Did you know?

That the oldest archaeologically dated site in Oregon is over 14,300 years old?

Archaeological Context

Dr. Leland Gilsen was the State Archaeologist for Oregon for 24 years.

While professional archaeologists have constructed a bare bones model of Oregon's past, only about 21 percent of the state has been subjected to federal, or federally funded, projects during the period he worked as the State Archaeologist (1978-2003). Under federal law, the projects were surveyed by professionals or archaeological technicians. During the surveys, 14,953 prehistoric and 7,485 historic sites (22,438 total) were recorded and protected. As of 2002, 7 percent of Oregon had been surveyed for cultural resources, mostly on federal lands under Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or US Forest Service (USFS) ownership and/or management.

In Science we Trust?

Scientific American Poll 2010

Maximum Score: 5.0

Scientists 3.98

Friends of scientists 3.09

Organizations 3.09

Citizen Groups 2.69

Journalists 2.57

Companies 1.78

Elected Officials 1.76

Religious Authorities 1.55

And younger children should check out this video. After viewing the video, use the BACK function on your browser to return to this page78th Street video. Also check out Archeology for Kids.

I have written a book about a family of archaeologists living in Oregon. It is titled Diggin' It and is available on Amazon.com. The book is about the adventures of the two high school aged children of a contract archaeologist with their school friend on digs in eastern Oregon.

Human societies exploit their environment to build and maintain a common set of values, methods and techniques we call culture. Humans live in a rich cultural milieu that sets us apart from all other living things on this earth. We have a history of resource exploitation and environmental degradation stretching back tens of thousands of years. All cultures change over time. All cultures fail and are replaced by others over time. Many cultures have so degraded their physical or biological environments as to cause their own destruction. The lessons of the past could be a warning for our common human future.

Anthropology is the study humankind in all places and throughout time. This discipline is traditionally broken up into four fields (alphabetic order):

  1. Archaeology, primarily the study of material remains from extinct societies to reconstruct their lifeways and cultural evolution;
  2. Cultural anthropology, the study of living societies, of humans as cultural beings
  3. Linguistics, the study of language, its description, syntax and evolution as an information gathering, information storage, information transmitting and information using system;
  4. Physical anthropology, the study of humans as biological organisms and physical evolution of the hominid line.

Culture: the beliefs, abstract values and perceptions as expressed by language and material symbols that are shared by the members of a society. The level of culture sets humans apart from all other species on earth. Humans are cultural beings.

Harris Poll:

96% support laws to protect archaeological sites

90% think archaeology should be taught in schools

88% have visited a museum or exhibit on archaeology

86% said public monies should be spent preserving and protecting sites

60% believe archaeology is of value to society

56% cited TV as their primary source on archaeology

All life has physical (material) basis that is maintained by energy. Life itself is not just a bunch of hardware (molecules) , it is also software (information) and energy (process). Living things process matter for replication, maintenance, and growth.

  1. All living systems input (exploit) matter, energy and information. The economic equivalent is production;
  2. All living systems have throughput, they move matter, energy and information around. The economic equivalent is distribution;
  3. All living systems store matter, energy and information. The economic equivalent is storage/capital;
  4. All living systems use matter, energy and information for self-maintenance, growth and replication. The economic equivalent is consumption.

Human economics is the equivalent of non-human ecology. Both words are derived from the same Greek root word oikos... meaning household. Economic models work because they are isomorphic (one-to-one relationship) to the fundamental nature of life itself.

Human culture, expressed in language is the symbolic idiom by which cooperating human beings maintain access to, and control over, the material needs, energy needs, and informational needs to survive (maintain itself, replicate itself, and grow).

There is information about employment opportunities in anthropology and archaeology on the links page.