Former Curator & Head of Section Sandra L. Olsen


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Academic Training
PhD 1984, Archaeology
Institute of Archaeology, University of London

General Research Interests 

  • Zooarchaeology
  • Bone artifacts
  • Eurasian prehistory

Research Emphases 

  • The Arabian Rock Art Heritage project, funded by the Layan Cultural Foundation, began in 2010. Using advanced imaging techniques, the team's goal is to accurately record and interpret petroglyphs from dozens of sites throughout the Saudi landscape.
  • Botai: Early Horse Herders on the Steppes of Northern Kazakhstan: A holistic, multidisciplinary approach to documenting early horse domestication and how the ancient Botai horse pastoralists of Kazakhstan lived.
  • Contemporary Mongolia: In 2004, Sandra Olsen explored Mongolia as part of a Fulbright-Hayes Committee delegation of scholars in their project aimed at increasing educational programs on Mongolia in the US.
  • Kazakh Pastoralism: Economic adaptation to local environments as it relates to prehistoric livestock
  • maintenance and human subsistence.
  • Bone, Antler, and Tooth Artifacts: The prehistoric manufacture and use of osseous materials for tools and ornaments.

Selected Publications  

Edited Volumes 

  • S. L. Olsen, S. Grant, A. Choyke, and L. Bartosiewicz, (eds.) 2006
    Horses and Humans: The Evolution of the Human-Equine Relationship. BAR, International Series 1560, Oxford, (375pp).
  • S.L. Olsen (ed.) 1996, reprinted in 2003 in paperback
    Horses Through Time. Roberts Rinehart, Boulder, Colorado, (222pp).
  • S.L. Olsen (ed.) 1988
    Scanning Electron Microscopy in Archaeology. BAR, International Series 452, Oxford, (408 pp).

Journal Articles and Chapters in Edited Volumes  

  • Outram, A; N. Stear; R. Bendrey; S. Olsen; A. Kasparov; V. Zaibert; N.Thorpe and R. Evershed 2009
    The Earliest Horse Harnessing and Milking, Science 323: 1332-1335.
  • Olsen, S.L. and D. Harding 2008
    Women's Attire and Possible Sacred Role in 4th Millennium Northern Kazakhstan. In K. Linduff and K. Rubinson (eds.), Are All Warriors Male? Gender Roles on the Ancient Eurasian Steppe. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, Lexington Books, and Madison Books, 67-92.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2008
    Hoofprints. Natural History 117(4): 26-32.
  • Olsen, S. L. 2008
    This Old Thing? Copper Age Fashion Comes to Life. Archaeology 61 (1): 46-47.
  • F. Allard, D. Erdenebaatar, S. Olsen, A. Caralla, and E. Maggiore 2007
    Ritual and Horses in Bronze Age and present-day Mongolia: Some Preliminary Observations from Khanuy Valley. In Laura Popova, Charles Hartley, and Adam Smith (eds.), Social Orders and Social Landscapes: Proceedings of the 2005 University of Chicago Conference on Eurasian Archaeology. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2007
    Conclusions: 4.3 Bone Artifacts and their Importance to Archaeology. In Christian Gates St.
    Pierre and Renee B. Walker (eds.), Recent Developments in Bone Tool Studies. Oxford: BAR International Series 1622: 175-182.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2006
    Early horse domestication on the Eurasian steppe. In M. A. Zeder, D.G. Bradley, E. Emshwiller, and B. D. Smith, Documenting Domestication: New Genetic and Archaeological Paradigms. Berkeley: University of California Press: 245-269.
  • Olsen, S. L. 2006
    Introduction. In S.L. Olsen, S. Grant, A.M. Choyke and L. Bartosiewicz (eds.), Horses and Humans: The Evolution of Human-Equine Relationships. Oxford: BAR International Series 1560:1-10.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2006
    Early horse domestication: Weighing the evidence. In S.L. Olsen, S. Grant, A.M. Choyke and L. Bartosiewicz (eds.), Horses and Humans: The Evolution of Human-Equine Relationships. Oxford: BAR, International Series 1560: 81-113.
  • Olsen, S.L., B. Bradley, D. Maki, and A. Outram 2006
    Community organisation among Copper Age sedentary horse pastoralists of Kazakhstan. In D. Peterson, L.M. Popova, and A.T. Smith (eds.), Beyond the Steppe and Sown: Proceedings of the 2002 University of Chicago Conference on Eurasian Archaeology, Colloquia Pontica 13. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers: 89-111.
  • Olsen, S.L. and I. Glover 2004
    The bone industries of Ulu Leang 1 and Leang Burung 1 rockshelters, Sulawesi, Indonesia, in S. Keates and J. Pasveer (eds.), Quaternary Research in Southeast Asia. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp. 273-300.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2003
    The bone and antler artefacts: Their manufacture and use. In N. Field and M. Parker Pearson (eds.), Fiskerton: An Iron Age Timber Causeway with Iron Age and Roman Votive Offerings. Oxbow Books, Oxford, pp. 92-111.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2003
    The exploitation of horses at Botai, Kazakhstan. In M. Levine, C. Renfrew and K. Boyle (eds.), Prehistoric Steppe Adaptation and the Horse. McDonald Institute Monographs. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, pp. 83-104.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2002
    Comments on “Archaeology and language: the Bronze Age Indo-Iranians,” by C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky. Current Anthropology 43(1)80-81.
  • N. Moloney, S. L. Olsen, and V. Voloshin 2001
    Lower and Middle Palaeolithic occupation in Central Kazakhstan: The Batpak valley and environs. In S. Milliken and J. Cook (eds.), A Very Remote Period Indeed. Oxbow Books, Oxford, pp.138-143.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2001
    The importance of thong-smoothers at Botai, Kazakhstan. In A. Choyke and L. Bartosiewicz (eds.), Crafting Bone: Skeletal Technologies through Time and Space. BAR International Series 937, Oxford, pp. 197-206.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2000
    The Upper Paleolithic bone industry of Klithi Rock Shelter, northwest Greece. Annals of Carnegie Museum 69(4): 209-226.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2000
    Reflections of ritual behavior at Botai, Kazakhstan. In K. Jones-Bley, M. Huld, and A. Della Volpe (eds.) Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference. Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph Series No. 35. Institute for the Study of Man, Washington, D.C., pp.183-207.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2000
    The sacred and secular roles of dogs at Botai, Kazakhstan. In S. Crockford (ed.), Dogs Through Time: The Archaeological Evidence. B.A.R., International Series 889, Oxford, pp.71-92.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2000
    The bone artifacts. In A. Moore, G. Hillman, and A. Legge (eds.), Village on the Euphrates: From Foraging to Farming at Abu Hureyra. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 154-163.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1999
    Investigation of the Phanourios bones for evidence of cultural modification, Chapter 9, Specialized Analysis, Section 5. In A. H. Simmons (ed.), Faunal Extinction in an Island Society: Pygmy Hippopotamus Hunters of Cyprus. Plenum Press, New York, pp. 230-237.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1998
    Animals in Native American life. In Marsha Bol (ed.), Stars Above, Earth Below: Essays on Native Americans and Nature. Roberts Rinehart, Niwot, Colorado, pp. 95-118.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1997
    Horse hunting strategies in the Paleolithic. In F. Alhaique, et. al. (eds.), XIII International Congress of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences, Forlì, Italy, 1996: The Proceedings, Vol. 6. A.B.A.C.O., Forlì, Italy.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1996
    Prehistoric adaptation to the Kazak steppes. In G. Afanas’ev, S. Cleuziou, J. Lukacs, and M. Tosi (eds.), The Colloquia of the XIII International Congress of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences, Vol. 16: The Prehistory of Asia and Oceania. A.B.A.C.O. Edizioni, Forlì, Italy, pp. 49-60.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1996
    Introduction. In S. Olsen (ed.), Horses Through Time. Roberts Rinehart, Boulder, Colorado, pp. 1-10.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1996
    Horse hunters of the Ice Age. In S. Olsen (ed.), Horses Through Time. Roberts Rinehart, Boulder, Colorado, pp. 35-56.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1996
    In the winner's circle: the history of equestrian sports. In S. Olsen (ed.), Horses Through Time. Roberts Rinehart, Boulder, Colorado, pp. 103-128.
  • Olsen, S.L. and J.W. Olsen 1996
    An Analysis of Faunal Remains from Wind Mountain, Appendix 8. In A.I. Woosley and A.J. McIntyre (eds.), Mimbres Mogollon Archaeology: Charles C. Di Peso’s Excavations at Wind Mountain. Amerind Foundation Publications No. 10, Amerind Foundation, Dragoon, AZ, and The University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, pp. 389-406.
  • Shnirelman, V.A., S.L. Olsen and P. Rice 1996
    Hooves across the steppes: The Kazak life-style. In S. Olsen (ed.), Horses Through Time. Roberts Rinehart, Boulder, Colorado, pp. 129-154.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1995
    Pleistocene horse-hunting at Solutré: Why bison jump analogies fail. In E. Johnson (ed.), Ancient Peoples and Landscapes. Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock, Texas, pp. 65-75.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1994
    Exploitation of mammals at the Early Bronze Age site of West Row Fen (Mildenhall 165), Suffolk, England. Annals of Carnegie Museum 63(2):115-153.
  • Olsen, S.L. and P. Shipman 1994
    Cutmarks and perimortem treatment of skeletal remains on the Northern Plains. In D. Owsley and R. Jantz (eds.) Skeletal Biology in the Great Plains: A Multidisciplinary View. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 377-387.
  • Olsen, S. L. 1992
    Taphonomy. 1992 McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology. McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York, New York.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1989
    The 1988 research at Solutré, France. AnthroQuest 40: 6-18.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1989
    On distinguishing natural from cultural damage on archaeological antler. Journal of Archaeological Science 16:125-135.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1989
    Solutré: A theoretical approach to the reconstruction of Upper Palaeolithic hunting strategies. Journal of Human Evolution 18: 295-327.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1988
    Introduction: applications of scanning electron microscopy to archaeology. In S.L. Olsen (ed.), Scanning Electron Microscopy in Archaeology, BAR, International Series, 452, Oxford, pp. 3-7.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1988
    The identification of stone and metal tool marks on bone artifacts. In S.L. Olsen (ed.), Scanning Electron Microscopy in Archaeology, BAR, International Series, 452, Oxford, pp. 337-360.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1988
    Applications of scanning electron microscopy in archaeology. Advances in Electronics and Electron Physics, 71: 357-380.
  • Olsen, S.L. and P. Shipman 1988
    Surface modification on bone: trampling vs. butchery. Journal of Archaeological Science 15 (5): 535-553.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1987
    Magdalenian reindeer exploitation at the Grotte des Eyzies, southwest France. Archaeozoologia, 1987, 1: 171-182.
  • Arndt (Olsen). S.L. and M.H. Newcomer 1986
    Breakage patterns on prehistoric bone points: an experimental study. In D. Roe (ed.), Studies in the Upper Palaeolithic of Britain and Northwest Europe. BAR, International Series 296, Oxford, pp.165-173.
  • Sales, K.D., A.D. Oduwole, G.V. Robins, and S.L. Olsen 1985
    The radiation and thermal dependence of ESR signals in ancient and modern bones. Nuclear Tracks 10(4-6): 845-851.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1983
    Zooarchaeological study of archaeological sites in the Farmington area. In L.I. Vogler (ed.), Human adaptation and cultural change: the archaeology of Block III, N.I.I.O. Navajo National Papers in Anthropology 15(4): 1797-1844.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1982
    AZ V:9:105 faunal remains from excavation. In J.J. Reid (ed.), Cholla Project Archaeology 4: the Tonto-Roosevelt Region, Arizona State Museum Archaeological Series 161: 160.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1982
    Faunal analysis. In T.J. Ferguson and B.J. Mills (eds.), Archaeological Investigations at Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, 1977-1980, Zuni Archaeology Program Report 183: 390-428.
  • Olsen, S.L. and J.W. Olsen 1981
    A comment on nomenclature in faunal analysis. American Antiquity 46(1): 192-194.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1981
    Bone artifacts from Las Colinas, Appendix D. In L.C. Hammack and A.P. Sullivan (eds.), Mound 8, Las Colinas Group, Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona State Museum Archaeological Series 154: 291-295.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1980
    Bone artifacts from Kinishba Ruin: their manufacture and use. Kiva 45(4): 39-67.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1979
    A study of bone artifacts from Grasshopper Pueblo, AZ P:14:1. Kiva 44(4): 341-373.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1977
    Faunal analysis of four sites, Appendix E. In D. E. Doyel (ed.), Excavations in the Middle Santa Cruz River Valley, Southwestern Arizona. Arizona State Museum Contributions to Highway Salvage Archaeology in Arizona 44: 178-186.

Book Reviews 

  • Olsen, S.L. 1991
    Review of Thoughtful Foragers: A Study of Prehistoric Decision Making, by Stephen Mithen. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 86:1.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1985
    Review of Excavations at Grimes Graves, Norfolk 1972-1976, Fascicule 1, Neolithic Antler Picks from Grimes Graves, Norfolk, and Durrington Walls, Wiltshire: a Biometrical Analysis by J. Clutton-Brock. Quaternary Research 47: 48-49.

Popular Articles 

  • Olsen, S.L. 2008
    Hoofprints. Natural History 117(4): 26-32.
  • Olsen, S. L. 2008
    This Old Thing? Copper Age Fashion Comes to Life. In Archaeology 61 (1): 46-47.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2007-2008
    Ancient Artisans of the Asian Steppe. In El Palacio 112(4)Winter: 58-64.
  • Olsen, S.L. 2000
    Beware of dogs facing west. Archaeology 53(4): 23.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1993
    The dawn horse returns to North America. Carnegie Magazine 61(7): 10.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1990
    The importance of the white-tailed deer in Virginia prehistory. The Virginia Explorer 6(5): 10.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1990
    An 11,000 year history of Virginia cuisine. The Virginia Explorer 6(2): 9-11.
  • Moncrief, N. and S.L. Olsen 1989
    Why reindeer are our Christmas symbols. The Virginia Explorer 5(12): 14-15.
  • Olsen, S. L. 1989
    Behind the scenes in archaeology. The Virginia Explorer 5(9): 15-16.
  • Olsen, S.L. 1979
    Birds. Encyclopedia of Indians in the Americas 3: 151-156. Scholarly Press, St. Clair Shores, Michigan.