Photo of Dennis Jenkins



Senior Research Associate II (Emeritus)

Museum of Natural and Cultural History,
University of Oregon

TAC Festival 2024 Keynote Address:

"Archaeology and Science at the Paisley Caves"


Dennis Jenkins recently retired as a Senior Research Archaeologist for the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon where he received his PhD in 1991. He taught and directed the UO’s Northern Great Basin archaeological field school in the Fort Rock, Chewaucan, and Harney basins of Oregon and the Snake River Plain in Idaho from 1989 to 2022. Jenkins’ research focuses on the first colonization of the Americas. When did people arrive, by what method, and direction? Who were they? What was their life like? He has also investigated obsidian sourcing and hydration, prehistoric shell bead trade, and settlement-subsistence patterns of the Northern Great Basin for 37 years. He has conducted more than 100 site investigations throughout his career, authored and co-authored 11 books, >80 chapters, articles, reviews, professional reports, and contributions to reports, and given >80 papers at professional meetings. Most recently, he has been involved in the internationally recognized recovery of ancient human DNA from coprolites (dried feces) dating to 14,500 years. He established the contemporaneity of Western Stemmed projectile points at the Paisley Caves with Clovis technology (~13,000 year old), co-authoring 6 articles in the World’s most prestigious scientific journals Science and Nature, made appearances in 11 TV documentaries, and has had his work profiled in more than 50 newspaper and magazine articles including Parade magazine and New Yorker.  In retirement, he is  completing the Paisley Caves monograph titled "Archaeology and Science at the Paisley Caves”.