Home | People |

Jelmer Eerkens


  • Ph.D., Archaeology, UC Santa Barbara, 2001
  • M.A., Archaeology, UC Santa Barbara, 1996
  • B.S., Computer Science, UC Davis, 1992


Jelmer Eerkens received a B.S. in computer science in 1992 from UC Davis, and an M.A. (1996) and Ph.D. (2001) in archaeology from UC Santa Barbara. During his graduate training, he spent one semester at the University of Missouri at the Research Reactor (MURR), and two semesters at the University of Calgary as a visiting researcher. Prior to coming (back) to UC Davis, he served as assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. He is also faculty in the UC Davis Forensic Science Graduate Program.

Research Focus

Professor Eerkens is interested in how humans, especially small-scale societies, adapt to social and environmental conditions and how these adaptations affect kinship, diet, resource extraction, land tenure practices, and the adoption and modification of material technologies, especially ceramics and stone-tools. He applies evolutionary models to better understand change in the archaeological record, especially ideas from cultural transmission theory. He has conducted archaeological field research in California, Nevada, South-Central Peru, and Northwest Europe. Much of his research incorporates archaeometric applications such as stable isotope analysis, proteomics, gas chromatography, electron microprobe, neutron activation, and X-Ray Fluorescence. 

Selected Publications

  • Eerkens, J.W. and A. de Voogt. (2022) Why are Roman‑period dice asymmetrical? An experimental and quantitative approach. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 14:134. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-022-01599-y
  • Miszaniec, J.I., M. Ramirez, J. Morales, C. Canzonieri, and J.W. Eerkens. (2021) Use of archaeological data in retracing diet and growth of extirpated fish populations in the California Delta: An allometric and isotopic approach to Sacramento perch (Archoplites interruptus) historical ecology. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 38: 103191. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352409X2100403X
  • Eerkens, J.W., A. Ryder, E. Evoy, and B. Hull. (2020). Hydrogen isotopes in serial hair samples record season of death in a mummified child from 19th century San Francisco, CA. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 173:606-614. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/ajpa.24137
  • Haas, R., J. Watson, T. Buonasera, J. Southon, J.C. Chen, S. Noe, K. Smith, C. Viviano-Llave, J. Eerkens, and G. Parker. Female Hunters of the Early Americas. Science Advances 6(45): eabd0310. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd0310. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/45/eabd0310/tab-pdf
  • Buonasera, T., J. Eerkens, A. de Famingh, L. Engbring, J. Yip, H. Li, R. Haas, D. DiGiuseppe, D. Grant, M. Salemi, C. Nijmeh, M. Arellano, A. Leventhal, B. Phinney, B.F. Byrd, R.S. Malhi, and G.J. Parker. A Comparison of Proteomic, Genomic, and Osteological Methods of Archaeological Sex Estimation. Scientific Reports 10 (11897): 1-15. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-68550-w
  • Parker, G.J., J.M. Yip, J.W. Eerkens, M. Salemi, B. Durbin-Johnson, C. Kiesow, R. Haas, J.E. Buikstra, H. Klaus, L.A. Regan, D.M. Rocke, B.S. Phinney. (2019). Sex Estimation Using Sexually Dimorphic Amelogenin Protein Fragments in Human Enamel. Journal of Archaeological Science 101: 169-180.
  • Eerkens, J.W., A. de Voogt, T.L. Dupras, V. Francigny, and A.M. Greenwald. (2018). Early childhood diets on the Nile: δ13C and δ15N in serial samples of permanent first molars in an elite Meroitic population from Sai Island, Sudan. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 28:552–562. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2679
  • Eerkens, J.W., S. Tushingham, K.J. Brownstein, R. Garibay, K. Perez, E. Murga, P. Kaijankoski, J.S. Rosenthal, and D.R. Gang. (2018) Dental calculus as a source of ancient alkaloids: Detection of nicotine by LC-MS in calculus samples from the Americas. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 18: 509–515.
  • Eerkens, J.W., and A. de Voogt. (2017) The Evolution of Cubic Dice from the Roman through Post-Medieval Period in the Netherlands. Acta Archaeologica 88: 163–173. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0390.2017.12182.x
  • Eerkens, J.W., B. Hull, J. Goodman, A. Evoy, J.D. Kapp, S. Hussain, and R.E. Green. Stable C and N isotope analysis of hair suggest undernourishment as a factor in the death of a mummified girl from late 19th century San Francisco, CA. PLoS ONE 12(9): e0184921. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184921


Introduction to Archaeology (ANT 3); World Prehistory (ANT 23); Ancient Crops and People (ANT 24); Mummies of the Ancient World (ANT 26); Andean Prehistory (ANT 175); Prehistory of California (ANT 176); Archaeometry (ANT 182); Prehistoric Technologies (ANT 184)