About Me

Mark R Schurr

611 Flanner Hall
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556 USA

(574) 631-7638


My research interests take me into the field and the lab.

Field Work:

My field work has been conducted mainly in northern Indiana since 1991 when I taught my first field school at Notre Dame. Current research topics include:

The Kankakee Protohistory Project The protohistoric period is the time just before history. Sites produce evidence of contact with Europeans but date before the first historic records for the area (for the Kankakee, the earliest known historic records are from A.D. 1679). Dr. Madeleine McLeester (University of Chicago and University of Notre Dame) and I are investigating sites from this period to better understand how people adapted to rapid social and environmental changes.. Our current project includes excavatoins at the Middle Grant Creek site at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in northern Illinois. Volunteers are welcome!

Summer Scholars Archaeology Field SchoolFor the fourth year, I directied a course that gives high school students the opportunity to participate in a dig and to learn about college life at Notre Dame. The project is called Exploring the Foundations of Notre Dame. We have been digging near Old College on the Notre Dame Campus during the last week of June and the first week of July.  A chapter in the book Beneath the Ivory Tower: The Archaeology of Academia provides an introduction to the site.

Laboratory Research:

My lab work makes use of my background in chemistry (I have a B.S. in Chemistry  and worked in the chemical industry for several years before going to grad school). My enduring love of chemistry was originally sparked by a childhood chemistry set, and further nurtured by an excellent high school teacher. I am interested in applying analytical methods to archaeological problems.   This is often called archaeometry.   Methods that I am presently using include:

Stable isotopes for understanding prehistoric nutrition, especially to examine changes in weaning behavior (or lack thereof) with the evolution of food production, and the relationship between agricultural intensification and social organization. I have recently become very interested in the isotopic ecology of people and the animals they preyed upon or coexisted with. Many of these projects are being done by students.  I am also exploring compound-specific isotope analyses.

Fluoride dating of bones, with many projects conducted by the Fluoride Dating Service Center