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Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award
Jeffrey R. Parsons

Archaeologist Jeffrey R. Parsons is master of the regional archaeological survey, which has become the standard method for documenting the organization of long-extinct early complex societies. In addition to invigorating the field of archaeology with his research, he has profoundly influenced American anthropology through his teaching and mentoring of new generations of scholars.

Parsons, curator of the Latin American Archaeology Collection at the Museum of Anthropology, patiently recorded and analyzed 2,500 sites in the Basin of Mexico before it was engulfed by the suburbs of modern Mexico City. His Valley of Mexico project has become a model for numerous large-scale survey projects throughout the world. He has taught these techniques to researchers in the American Southwest, Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, Iceland, Mongolia and elsewhere, enabling archaeologists to create inventories of sites, which are essential to preserve cultural resources.

He also has contributed significantly to the new field of ethnoarchaeology, the study of artifacts and living practices such as making salt from briny mud and scraping algae from lakes. These technologies, which were extremely important to prehistoric inhabitants, are rapidly disappearing.

A member of the Department of Anthropology faculty since 1966, Parsons has established valuable collegial relationships with scholars in Latin America. He involves Michigan undergraduate and graduate students in field research, and many of his students have moved on to national prominence in the profession. His relationships with students and colleagues are marked by extraordinary generosity.

Parsons twice has directed the Center for Latin America and Caribbean Studies. At the national level, he has served on major committees of the National Science Foundation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Fulbright Commission, the Society for American Archaeology and the American Anthropological Association (AAA). In recognition of Parsons’ many accomplishments, the AAA awarded him one of its highest honors, the Alfred V. Kidder Award for Eminence in the Field of American Archaeology, in 1998.

Michael A. Savageau
Lawrence Sklar
Kensell D. Wise
Robert E. Lewis
Don B. Clewell
Andrew F. Nagy
Jeffrey R. Parsons
Julia Adams
Richard D. Woods
Fred C. Adams
Photios G. Ioannou


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