Faculty and Staff

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Kenneth Barnett Tankersley

Title: Associate Professor, Curator, Court Archaeological Research Facility
Office: 456 Braunstein Hall
Tel: 513-556-5784
Email: tankerkh@ucmail.uc.edu

I specialize in Archaeological Geology, Quaternary Science, Catastrophic Volcanic Events, and Vertebrate Paleontology.


  • B.S. , University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1978 (Education (Geology)).
  • M.A., University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1982 (Anthropology).
  • Ph.D., Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, 1989 (Anthropology).
  • Post-Doctorate, Illinois State Museum, Springfield, Illinois, 1993 (Quaternary Research Program).

Research Information

Research Interests

My research focuses on archaeological problems associated with human migration, adaptation, and natural resource use during periods of climatic, environmental, and catastrophic change.  From an evolutionary perspective, these are significant periods of change, which force people to economically adapt, downsize, or migrate. Temporally, my research focuses on the Quaternary, the geological period of time during which humans evolved.  I direct two laboratories, the Court Archaeological Research Facility and the Ohio Valley Archaeology Laboratory.

Research Support

  • Court Archaeological Research Fund Endowment, Court Family Foundation. $50,000.00. 2013.
  • National Science Foundation, Co-PI with David Lentz, Regina Baucom, Kenneth Hinkel, Guy Cameron, Michell Kelleher. $170,000.00. 2012 to to Present.
  • Ohio Valley Scholarship Endowment, Court Family Foundation. $300,000.00. 2010.
  • National Park Service. $1,200.00. 2008.
  • Court Archaeology Research Facility (CARF) Endowment, Court Family Foundation. $500,000.00. 2008.
  • (Collaborator), Hancock, John; Tankersley, Kenneth, The Ancient Ohio Trail, National Endowment for the Humanities. (09-041), $15,000.00. 03/01/2009 to 04/30/2010. Status: Closed.
  • (Collaborator), Baucom, Regina; Cameron, Guy; Hinkel, Kenneth; Lentz, David; Tankersley, Kenneth, FSML: Power, Equipment and Connectivity for the University of Cincinnati Center for Field Studies, National Science Foundation. (DBI-1226891), $167,076.00. 09/01/2012 to 08/31/2014. Status: Active.


Peer Reviewed Publications

  • 2018 Kenneth Barnett Tankersley, Warren D. Huff, Nicholas P. Dunning, Lewis A. Owen, Vernon L. Scarborough. Volcanic Minerals in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico and their Archaeological Significance. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 17:404-421.

    2017 Christopher R. Moore, Allen West, Malcolm A. LeCompte, Mark J. Brooks, I. Randolph Daniel Jr., Albert C. Goodyear, Terry A. Ferguson, Andrew H. Ivester, James K. Feathers, James P. Kennett, Kenneth B. Tankersley1, A. Victor Adedeji, Ted E. Bunch1. Widespread platinum anomaly documented at the Younger Dryas onset in North American sedimentary sequences. Nature:Scientific Reports 7:44031 | DOI: 10.1038/srep44031(www.nature.com/scientificreports)

    2017 Kenneth Barnett Tankersley. Geochemical, economic and ethnographic approaches to the evaluation of soil, salinity, and water management in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports. 12:378-383.

    2017 Kenneth Barnett Tankersley, Lewis A. Owen, Nicholas P. Dunning, Samantha G. Fladd, Katelyn J. Bishop, David L. Lentz, Venicia Slotten. Micro-flotation removal of coal contaminants from archaeological radiocarbon samples from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, USA. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 12:66–73.

    2016 Kenneth Barnett Tankersley, Nicholas P. Dunning, Jessica Thress, Lewis A. Owen, Warren D. Huff, Samantha G. Fladd, Katelyn J. Bishop, Stephen Plog, Adam S. Watson, Christopher Carr, Vernon L. Scarborough. Evaluating soil salinity and water management in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports: 9:94–104.

    2016 Kenneth Barnett Tankersley, Denis Conover, David Lentz. Stable carbon isotope values (δ13C) of purslane (Portulaca oleracea) and their archaeological significance. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 7:189-194.

    2016 Kenneth Barnett Tankersley, Nicholas P. Dunning, Vernon Scarborough, Warren D. Huff, David Lentz, Christopher Carr. Catastrophic Volcanism and its Implication for Agriculture in the Maya Lowlands. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 5, 465-470.

    2015 Tankersley, Kenneth Barnett, Madhav Krishna Murari, Brooke E. Crowley, Lewis A. Owen, Glenn W. Storrs, Litsa Mortensenet, Quaternary chronostratigraphy and stable isotope paleoecology of Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, USA, Quaternary Research, 83, 479–487. 
    2015 Kennett JP, Kennett D.J, Culleton BJ, Aura Tortosa JE, Bunch TE, Erlandson JM, Johnson JR, Jordá Pardo JF, Malcombe, A., DR, LeCompte MA, Mahaney WC, Moore CR, Tankersley KB, et al, A. Synchroneity of Widespread Bayesian-modeled Ages Supports Younger Drysa Impact Hypothesis, Letter, PNAS www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1520411112

    2015 Kennett JP, Kennett DJ, Culleton BJ, Aura Tortosa JE, Bischoff JL, Bunch TE, Daniel IR Jr, Erlandson JM, Ferraro, David, Firestone RB, Goodyear AC III, Israde-Alcantara I, Johnson JR, Jordá Pardo JF, Kimbel DR, LeCompte MA, Lopinot NH, Mahaney WC, Moore AMT, Moore CR, Ray JH, Stafford TW Jr, Tankersley KB, et al. .Bayesian chronological analyses consistent with synchronous age of 12,835-12,735 cal BP for Younger Dryas Boundary on four continents. PNAS 2015-07146R

    2014 Lentz, D. L., Dunning, N. P., Scarborough, V. L., Magee, K. S, Thompson, K. S., Weaver, E., Carr, C., Terry, R.T., Islebe, G., Tankersley, K. et. al., fields, and the edge of sustainability at the ancient Maya city of Tikal. PNAS doi/10.1073/pnas.1408631111.

    2014. Charles R. Kinzie, Shane S. Que Hee, Adrienne Stich, Kevin A. Tague, Chris Mercer, Joshua J. Razink, Douglas J. Kennett, Paul S. DeCarli, Ted E. Bunch, James H. Wittke, Isabel Israde-Alca ́ntara, James L. Bischoff, Albert C. Goodyear, [Link]
  • 2012 Vernon Scarborough, Nicholas Dunning, David Lentz, Kenneth Tankersley, Liwy Grazioso, Christopher Carr, Eric Weaver, Brian Lane, Fred Valdez, Palma Buttles, and John Jones. Water and Sustainable Land Use in an Ancient Tropical City: Tikal, Guatemala.  PNAS 9(31): 12408-12413. Link]
  • 2012 Jeremy M. Koster and Kenneth B. Tankersley. Heterogeneity of Hunting Ability and Nutritional Status Among Domestic Dogs in Lowland Nicaragua.  PNAS 109(6)111251510. 
  • 2011 Weeks, R. and K. B. Tankersley, Of Talking Leaves and Rocks that Teach: The Archaeology of Sequoya’s Oldest Written Record. Antiquity 85:978-994.
  • 2011 Kenneth B. Tankersley. Evaluating the Co-occurrence of Platygonus compressus and Mylohyus nasutus at Sheriden Cave, Wyandot County, Ohio. Current Research in the Pleistocene 28:173-175.
  • 2011 Kenneth B. Tankersley, Vernon L. Scarborough, Nicholas Dunning, Warren Huff,
    Barry Maynard, Tammie L. Gerke, Evidence for Volcanic Ash Fall in the Maya Lowlands from a Reservoir at Tikal, Guatemala. Journal of Archaelogical Science 38:2925-2938.
  • 2011 Brain G. Redmond and Kenneth B. Tankersley. Species Response to the Theorized Clovis Comet Impact at Sheriden Cave, Ohio. Current Research in the Pleistocene 28:141-143.
  • 2010 Tankersley, K. B., and Marianne Balantyne, X-ray Power Diffraction Analysis of Late Holocene Reservoir Sediments.  Journal of Archaeological Science 37:133-138.
  • 2010 Tankersley, K. B., and Jeremy Koster . Sources of Stable Isotope Variation in Archaeological Dog RemainsNorth American Archaeologist 29:343-37.
  • 2010 Haines, A. L. and K. B. Tankersley, John Court: A Stratified Clovis Site in Hamilton County, Ohio. Current Research in the Pleistocene 27:102-104.

    2010. Tankersley, K. B. and A. L. Haines, Was Newtown a Fort Ancient Progenitor? North American Archaeologist 31:201-220.[Link]
  • 2009 Tankersley, K.B.,Late Pleistocene Paleontology and Archaeology of Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, in North American Paleontological Convention Field Trip Guide, edited by Carl Brett.[Link]
  • 2009 Tankersley, K. B.,Michael R. Waters, and Thomas W. Stafford, Jr. Clovis and the American Mastodon at Big Bone Lick, Kentucky.  American Antiquity (74)3:558-567.
  • 2009 Tankersley, K. B., Brian Lane, Dean J. Wells, Christine Hamburg, and Andras Nagy, Last Glacial Maximum Fauna from Great Saltpeter Cave, Kentucky. Current Research in the Pleistocene 26:48-50
  • 2009 Michael R. Waters, Thomas W. Stafford, Jr., Brian G. Redmond, K.B. Tankersley The Age of the Paleoindian Assemblage at Sheriden Cave, Ohio.  American Antiquity 74:107-111.
  • 2008 Tankersley, K.B. Three Saylors: An Appalachian Mountain Clovis Site in Southeastern Kentucky. Current Research in the Pleistocene 25:110-112[Link]
  • 2008 Tankersley, K.B. The Mariemont Earthwork: A Fort Ancient Serpentine Hydraulic Structure. North American Archaeologist 29:123-143[Link]
  • 2007 Tankersley, K.B. Archaeological Geology of the Turner Site Complex, Hamilton County, Ohio. North American Archaeologist 28:271-294[Link]


  • 2016 Tankersley, K.B. and Newman, R.B., Dr. Charles Louis Metz and the American Indian Archaeology of the Little Miami River Valley. Little Miami Publishing, Milford.

Book Chapter

  • 2015. Kenneth Barnett Tankersley, Nicholas Dunning, Vernon L. Scarborough, Christopher Carr, John Jones, David Lentz. Fire and Water: The Archaeological Significance of Tikal’s Quaternary Sediments. The Archaeology of Tikal edited by David Lentz. Cambridge University Press, pp. 186-211. 

    2015. David Lentz, Kevin Magee, Eric Weaver, John Jones, Kenneth Tankersley, Angela Hood, Gerald Islebe, Carmen Ramos, and Nicholas Dunning, Agroforestry Practices of the Ancient Maya at Tikal: Resilience and Management of an Essential Resource. The Archaeology of Tikal edited by David Lentz. Cambridge University Press, pp. 152-185.

    2007 Tankersley, K.B. Big Bone Lick, Kentucky: Late Pleistocene Archaeology. In Geological Aspects of Key Archaeological Site in Northern Kentucky and Southern  Ohio, edited by Timothy S. Dalby, Ohio Geological Survey, Columbus, pp 46-50.[Link]

Encyclopedia Article

  • 2015. Vernon Scarborough and Kenneth Tankersley, Archaeology, Wells, and Reservoirs, Encyclopedia of Geoarchaeology, Springer Science Business Media Dordrecht, A.S. Gilbert (ed.), DOI 10.1007/978-1-4020-4409-0.

    2008 Tankersley, K.B. Shawnee Indians, The World Book Encyclopedia, pp. 379.[Link]
  • 2008 Tankersley, K.B. Creek Indians, The World Book Encyclopedia, pp. 1125-1126[Link]


  • 2007 Tankersley, K. B. Introduction. Arrowpoints, Spearheads, and Knives of Prehistoric Times, United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Sky Horse Publishers Press, New York, pp. vii-ix[Link]


  • 2009. Tankersley, K. B., Murray Springs: A Clovis Site with Multiple Activity Areas in the San Pedro Valey, Arizona. Journal of Anthropological Research 65:654-655[Link]
  • 2008. Tankersley, K. B. Making the Voyageur World: Travelers and Traders in the North American Fur Trade, by Carolyn Podruchny, American Anthropologist 110:136-137[Link]