David Madsen

David B. Madsen

Contact Information
Mailing address: TARL
The University of Texas at Austin
1 University Station R7500
Austin, Texas 78712
Office: Building 5A J.J. Pickle Research Campus
10100 Burnet Road
Austin, Texas 78758
Phone: (512)471-5982
Fax: (512)232-6563
Email: madsend@mail.utexas.edu

Background and Current Research

An undergraduate emphasis on archaeology and geology led David Madsen to graduate degrees at the Universities of Utah and Missouri in Anthropology with an emphasis on paleoenvironmental studies. Using paleoecological data derived from palynology, packrat middens, geomorphology, and stratified raptor deposits together with archaeological data derived from an array of survey and excavation work, he has pursued a life-long study of human adaptation to environmental change. Most of this research has involved the organization and management of large multi-disciplinary projects focused principally on two areas of the world: the mountain and valley systems in the Great Basin of western North America and a similar area of mountain and desert internal drainage systems in western China and Tibet. He also maintains a continuing research interest in theoretical and methodological studies of human foraging behavior, as well as an interest in history and historic archaeology.

After serving for 20 years as the Utah State Archaeologist, Utah Division of State History, and adjunct professor of anthropology, University of Utah, Madsen became the head of the Paleontology and Paleoecology Program and senior environmental scientist at the Utah Geological Survey. He is now Director of Environmental Research and Research Professor of Anthropology/Archaeology at the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute, Mercyhurst College, Research Fellow at the Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin, and Adjunct Research Professor in the Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Desert Research Institute. He also holds a position as Visiting Research Professor, Center for Arid Environment and Paleoclimate Research, Lanzhou University, China.

Madsenís current research projects include on-going studies of environmental change in the Bonneville Basin at the Pleistocene/Holocene transition. These involve dating of terminal Lake Bonneville shorelines, the collection and analysis of short cores from shoreline spring-bogs, and the analysis of stratified raptor deposits. Continuing anthropological archaeology studies in the Bonneville Basin include the excavation and analysis of a series of cave and open marsh sites in and around the Old River Bed system of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville. Current projects in western China include the study of millennial-scale climate change events reflected in fluctuations of small Tengger Desert lakes, Upper Paleolithic adaptations in the Mu Su and Tengger Deserts to the dramatic environmental changes across the last glacial interval, the development of millet agriculture and settled village life in the arid regions of Gansu and Ningxia, and the study of early human adaptation to the extreme environments of the Tibetan Plateau. Madsen is also involved in theoretical issues revolving around the peopling of the New World before the last glacial maximum and the impact of rapid climate change events on foragers of the Southern Plains Periphery. He maintains a continuing interest in the Fremont farmer/foragers of western North America.