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New archaeologist comes aboard at USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum

Timothy Riley stands beside the model of a Fremont pit house in the Prehistoric Museum.

By By JOHN SERFUSTINI Sun Advocate associate editor

When Timothy Riley arrived in Price for a job interview a few months ago, he got a bit of a surprise. "Frankly, I was blown away that a town this size could have a museum as good as this," he said. As things turned out, the USU Eastern hiring committee members were as impressed with him as he was with the Prehistoric Museum. He got hired as the museum's new archaeologist and has begun work this month.

Riley, while an archaeologist first and foremost, is a paleoethnobotanist, which means his expertise is in how ancient humans used plants. While this field does get into weaving with plant fibers, it also is increasingly involved in microscopic and molecular analysis of discoveries. "It's a way of looking at each artifact as a site," he explains.

That being the case, there are plenty of "sites" already in the museum's prehistoric collection. Riley says he'll be examining various artifacts for residue of ancient pollen and starch grains. He's also looking forward to seeing first-hand the world-famous sites at Range Creek and Nine Mile Canyon. "I'll be leaning on the Castle Valley Archaeological Society because they're the experts," he says.

Riley comes to Price from Texas A&M, where he was an adjunct assistant professor of anthropology.

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