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Gary Rollefson

Professor Emeritus and Research Associate, Anthropology, Whitman College, and Professor Emeritus, Anthropology, San Diego State University

Born in rural Iowa, my family moved to Long Beach, California, where I finished high school. (An amazing place: the first time I had seen females smoking. Says something about rural Iowa at the time). Off to Berkeley as a physics major but crashed with an F in 4th semester calculus, then off to anthropology, partly because it was a word that had five syllables (physics two, no contest). Archaeology captivated me (also five syllables), a reminder of the times I followed Dad plowing the Iowa fields while I picked up arrowheads in the plow furrows. Army: Viet Nam War came up, and I joined up with a promise of non-combat duty (sure!). I was a Cambodian translator for most of four years at the National Security Agency at Ft. Meade, MD. Graduate school at the U. of Arizona in Tucson was the beginning of my slavery to deserts. Archaeological field work in Israel at the Lower and Middle Paleolithic site of Tabun Cave changed my life course, and I’ve been doing Stone Age archaeology ever since. After finishing the Ph.D. program at U. of Arizona in 1978, I used a fellowship to study in Jordan, a “blank-map” area of prehistoric archaeological research. I was on the ground floor of Stone Age archaeology in Jordan (which has become my second home), and Jordan has rewarded my archaeological interests in amazing ways: ‘Ain Soda, ‘Ain Ghazal, Wadi Rum, and now our work in the eastern desert of Jordan has become a passion, and the cooperation with Jordanian, European, and American colleagues has been enormously rewarding (see CV).


Prehistoric archaeology of the Levant; arid lands adaptations; prehistoric religion; origins of prehistoric pastoralism; Lower Paleolithic (‘Ain al-Assad, Jordan; ‘Ain Soda, Jordan; Tabun Cave, Israel); Middle Paleolithic (‘Ain al-Assad, ‘Ain Soda, Tabun Cave); Neolithic (‘Ain Ghazal, Jordan; Bawwabah al-Ghazal, Jordan; Wisad Pools, Jordan

Black Desert

Black Desert, Jordan
Chalcolithic/ Early Bronze Age desert adaptations

wadi rum

Wadi Rum, Jordan; Asir, Saudi Arabia, rock art (Black Desert, southern Jordan)

haparsa rock art

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