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Rachel Reckin


I obtained my BA in English from the University of Puget Sound in 2009, my MA in Anthropology from the University of Wyoming in 2011, and I am currently a PhD student in Archaeology at St John's College, Cambridge. My Master's thesis was on ice patch archaeology all around the world, and the patterns of high altitude use suggested by artifacts found melting from the ice in recent years. As part of that project, I worked with Drs. Robert Kelly, Craig Lee and Pei-Lin Yu on a ground-breaking ice patch archaeology project in Glacier National Park, in collaboration with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Blackfeet Nation. This project was awarded the Department of the Interior's Partners in Conservation Award for tribal collaboration. I worked seasonally for the US Forest Service throughout my Bachelor's and Master's degree, and in 2011 I returned to work for the Forest Service full time, first as a Zoned District Archaeologist and then as a Forest Archaeologist on the Kootenai National Forest of Montana. I left that position to begin my PhD studies in 2014.

Research Interests

Primary areas of interest:

prehistoric human adaptations to high altitudes
variation in lithic technology and typology
cultural resources and climate change
landscape archaeology
GIS applications in archaeology
hunter-gatherer ethnography

My PhD is titled "High Altitude Archaeology in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of Montana and Wyoming." In it, I am testing the common assumption that extensive prehistoric activity in the central Rockies should correlate with either population pressure from the lowlands or increased paleoclimatic stress. To this end, I've been working with Drs. Lawrence Todd and Robert Kelly to record both extensive surface lithic landscapes and artifacts melting from alpine ice patches in the Absaroka Mountains. And I have been collaborating with Dr. Craig Lee on ice patch archaeological and paleoecological projects in the Beartooth Mountains. These projects include coring of high altitude ice in an effort to build a more precise paleoclimatic record for the region and surveying for ice patch artifacts.

My interest in hunter-gatherer ethnography has also led me to help found an interdisciplinary group, Forager Child Studies, with biological anthropologist Sheina Lew-Levy, social anthropologist Noa Levi and psychologist Dr. Kate Ellis-Davies. in this project, we are interested in cross-cultural considerations of forager childhood, both in the past, present and future.

Research Supervision

Supervised by:

Dr Philip Nigst


Current, University of Cambridge:

ARC10/BAN3/G03 Human Evolution and Paleolithic Archaeology

ARC6 Archaeological Theory and Practice I

Occasional lectures:
ARC10/BAN3 Human Evolution and Paleolithic Archaeology

Past, University of Wyoming:

Teaching Assistant:

Introduction to Archaeology

Ethnographic Methods


Other Professional Activities

Memberships: Society for American Archaeology, Montana Archaeological Society, Wyoming Archaeological Society, Rocky Mountain Anthropological Conference



  • Prehistory
  • GIS
  • hunter-gatherer behavioural ecology
  • Archaeology
  • Landscape

Key Publications

Reckin, Rachel & Todd, Lawrence C. In press. Mountains as Crossroads: Tribal Interaction and Land Tenure in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Hunter Gatherer Research.

Reckin, Rachel. In press. Resiliency and Loss: A case study of two clusters of high elevation ice patches in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, USA. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 32.2.

Reckin, Rachel. 2013. Ice Patch Archaeology in Global Perspective: Archaeological Discoveries from Alpine Ice Patches Worldwide and their Relationship with Paleoclimates. Journal of World Prehistory 26: 323-385. 

Lew-Levy, Sheina, Reckin, Rachel, Lavi, Noa, Cristobal-Azkarate, Jurgi, & Ellis-Davies, Kate. 2017. How do hunter-gatherer children learn subsistence skills? A meta-ethnographic review. Human Nature.

Lew-Levy, Sheina, Lavi, Noa, Reckin, Rachel, Cristobal-Azkarate, Jurgi, & Ellis-Davies, Kate. 2017. How do hunter-gatherer children learn social and gender norms? A meta-ethnographic review. Cross-Cultural Research.

Lee, Craig M., Kelly, Robert L., Reckin, Rachel, Matt, Ira, & Yu, Pei-Lin. 2014. Ice Patch Archaeology in Western North America. Society for American Archaeology – Archaeological Record, Feb. 2014.