Back to Home
Judson Byrd Finley, PhD

Associate Professor


Office Location: 223a1 Johnson Hall

Phone Number: (901) 678-2979

Fax: (901) 678-2178



Degree: Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1996

Fields of Interest

Geoarchaeology; Paleoecology; Environmental Change; Human-Environmental Interactions; Culture Contact; Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology; Cultural Resources Management; High Plains and Rocky Mountains

finley1My research focuses on the Central Rocky Mountains and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in northwestern Wyoming and southern Montana where I study rockshelter formation processes, human response to environmental change, and the effects of culture contact and colonialism on the Native Tribes of Wyoming and Montana. My rockshelter studies focus on the Bighorn Mountains where I am characterizing variability in Late Quaternary formation processes. Working with Marcel Kornfeld and Bob Kelly (University of Wyoming), I am involved in understanding the role of rockshelters in Early Paleoindian (i.e., Clovis and Folsom) settlement strategies. I am also interested in Late Paleoindian (i.e., the Foothills-Mountain Tradition) and Archaic lifeways, particularly the effects of climate change on human foraging patterns. I see the relationships between rockshelter formation processes, Late Quaternary environmental change, and human foraging behavior expressed in the archaeofaunal record using the expectations of human behavioral ecology, particularly the prey model. So far my rockshelter studies have focused on geochronology using AMS and OSL (optically stimulated luminescence), macrostratigraphy, and the geomorphic processes linking rockshelter formation to environmental change. In the near future I will add micromorphology to many of the rockshelters I have already characterized and will use stable isotope geochemistry as an additional line of evidence for Late Quaternary environmental change. My rockshelter work continues to add new sites in the Bighorn Mountains and the nearby Pryor Mountains. In 2009 I will begin a pilot study of alluvial geomorphology in the northern Bighorn Basin by examining recent flash flood deposits in the Bighorn Canyon area.

finley2I am also involved in a multi-year study of tipi rings in the Bighorn Canyon area separating the Bighorn and Pryor Mountains and recent high-elevation occupations in the mountains east of Yellowstone National Park. The Bighorn Canyon area is part of the traditional Crow tribal

homeland. Thousands of stone circles or tipi rings line the Bad Pass Trail, which traverses the canyon and connects the northern Bighorn Basin to the Montana High Plains. Working with Laura Scheiber (Indiana University), we are documenting the tipi rings using survey-grade GPS, GIS, geophysical (i.e., gradiometry) surveys, and limited test excavations to build a chronology of tipi ring occupations in the canyon. Tipi rings are an important part of Crow tribal history, and we are working directly with Crow elders and students to bring together multiple interpretations of tipi rings as a record of domestic life and the Crow social landscape. My work in the mountains east of Yellowstone National Park, also with Laura Scheiber, involves following forest fires to document campsites associated with terminal Prehistoric and Historic Mountain Shoshone occupations. Our work has revealed extensive contact period assemblages of mixed stone and steel technologies often associated with bighorn sheep kill sites. These camp and kill sites document the critical transition from pre- to post-contact lifeways for Shoshone people living in the Central Rocky Mountains during the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. In addition to spatial analysis of campsites using GPS, GIS, and geophysical survey, we are tracing the effects of culture contact on native people using obsidian and ceramic (i.e., Intermountain Ware) source analysis.

Please contact me for student (undergraduate and graduate) opportunities.



Courses taught

Scheduled for Fall 2009

  • ESCI 7311 Public Archaeology
  • ESCI 7327 Lithic Analysis

Scheduled for Spring 2010

  • ESCI 4370 Ancient Human Societies and Environmental Change
  • ESCI 7345 Geoarchaeology Materials Science

In Development

  • Principles of Geoarchaeology
  • Environmental Archaeology
  • The Archaeology of Prehistoric Foraging Societies

Representative publications

• Finley, Judson Byrd (2007) Stratigraphy, Sedimentology, and Geomorphology. In Medicine Lodge Creek: Holocene Archaeology of the Eastern Big Horn Basin, Wyoming, edited by George C. Frison and Danny N. Walker, pp. 131-152. Clovis Press, Avon, Colorado.

• Finley, Judson Byrd (2007) The Geologic and Geomorphic Context of Rockshelters in the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming. In On the Shelter’s Ledge: Histories, Theories, and Methods of Rockshelter Research, edited by Marcel Kornfeld, Sergei Vasil’ev, and Laura Miotti. Proceedings of the XV World Congress UISPP Lisbon, Portugal, September 2006. British Archaeological Reports BAR S1655. Archaeopress, Oxford, England.

• Finley, Judson B., Marcel Kornfeld, Chris C. Finley, Brian N. Andrews, George C. Frison, and Michael T. Bies (2005) Rockshelter Archaeology and Geoarchaeology in the Bighorn Mountains. Plains Anthropologist 50:227-248.

• Finley, Judson Byrd, Marcel Kornfeld, George C. Frison, and Chris C. Finley (2003) Below Folsom at Two Moon Shelter, Wyoming. Current Research in the Pleistocene 20:18-20, Center for the Study of the First Americans, Texas A&M University, College Station.

• Scheiber, Laura L., Judson Byrd Finley, and Maureen P. Boyle (2008). Bad Pass Archaeology. The American Surveyor April/May:12-22.

• Scheiber, Laura L., and Judson Byrd Finley (2008). Mountain Shoshone Technological Transitions Across the Great Divide. In Across the Great Divide: Culture Contact and Culture Change in North America at AD 1500, edited by L.L, Scheiber and M. Mitchell. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. In Press.

• Surovell, Todd A, Judson Byrd Finley, Geoff Smith, Robert Kelly, and P. Jeffrey Brantingham (2008). Correcting Temporal Frequency Distributions for Taphonomic Bias. Journal of Archaeological Science 36:1715-1724.

Link of Interest

Text Only | Print | Got a Question? Ask TOM | Contact Us | Memphis, TN 38152 | 901/678-2000 | Copyright 2015 University of Memphis | Important Notice | Last Updated: 
Archaeology Program | 337 Clement Hall | Memphis, TN | 38152-3530 | Phone: 901-678-3067
Last Updated: 1/9/13