Pre-Columbian Society of Washington DC

The Pre-Columbian Society of Washington, D.C. (PCSWDC), is an educational organization dedicated to furthering knowledge and understanding of the peoples of the Americas before the time of Columbus. Founded in 1993, the Society provides a forum for the exchange of information regarding these pre-Columbian cultures between academic professionals and interested members of the public.

Back to All Events


The Predicate Form: Using Artifact Shapes to Reconstruct Social Interaction, David Thulman, PhD, George Washington University

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

Thulman talk Image.jpg

Artifact shapes have long been used speculate about cultural connections in prehistoric archaeology. Here I use sophisticated shape analyses to reconstruct regional point evolution trajectories from predicate forms to reveal the network of social relations throughout the Southeastern United States in the late Paleoindian and Early Archaic periods (about 12,000 – 10,000 years ago). The work reveals a rapid dissemination of information throughout much of the Southeast at the start of the Early Archaic that fostered the local idiosyncratic adoption of notching as the preferred hafting technique. This process appears to have duplicated earlier information dissemination through the region hafting techniques and their local adoption throughout the region.

This method of artifact shape analysis and theories of how information is transmitted among groups of people are changing the way we can understand the deep past and provide an enriched view of how people lived at that time.


David Thulman is from Washington, DC, where he spent his formative years in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum dreaming of becoming a paleontologist or anthropologist studying human evolution. He received an anthropology degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978 but took a detour to the George Washington University Law School, where he graduated in 1982 with a concentration in environmental law.

 Dave spent over 20 years with the Florida environmental departments litigating environmental violations. In 1995, he volunteered on an underwater archaeology site near Tallahassee and was hooked when it was clear that hanging out with archaeologists and graduate students was so much more fun than dealing with lawyers.

 He went to graduate school at Florida State University and received his PhD in 2006, moved back to the DC area and has been teaching at George Washington University since 2007. He does occasional fieldwork in Florida but mostly museum- and private collections-based research. Although he has published on various topics, his most recent is on radiocarbon dating and reconstructing prehistoric social organization from patterns of artifact shape variation.

Earlier Event: November 2
Later Event: January 4

Copyright Pre-Columbian Society of Washington D.C. All Rights Reserved.