Erik Martin, PhD

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Erik is a Principal Investigator at Far Western’s Great Basin Branch in Carson City, Nevada. He has been active in archaeological fieldwork and research within the Great Basin and California since 2011, earning his Master of Science in Anthropology from University of Utah in 2013 and Ph.D. in 2019. Erik has served in many capacities as an archaeologist including directing projects and leading crews on NHPA Section 106 and 110 inventories, technical report writing, participation in National Science Foundation sponsored projects, and teaching field schools. Erik has experience in a diverse range of research and lab methodologies including faunal analysis, statistical modeling, lithic analysis, radiocarbon sample preparation, and chronological modeling. His doctoral research at the University of Utah focused on the application of principles from Behavioral Ecology to better understand aspects of prehistoric hunter-gatherer subsistence strategies within the larger ecological context of environmental productivity and paleoclimatic conditions. Erik’s published work includes articles in 
California and Great Basin Anthropology and American Antiquity.

Evaluation and Testing
Effects Mitigation
Sensivity and Constraints
Environmental Planning Support
GIS and Cartography
Public Outreach and Interpretation

Erik’s Key Projects

Twin Peaks Riparian Infrastructure Project

The Twin Peaks Grazing Allotment is located within the Smoke Creek Borderlands straddling the California and Nevada state line north of Honey Lake. The archaeology in this remote, upland setting has remained relatively unstudied compared to the well documented cultural resources located in the surrounding Madeline Plains, Secret Valley, Honey Lake Basin, and Smoke Creek Desert. Far Western had the unique opportunity to contribute to the study of this region through the Section 106 Class III Inventory of 50 upland springs (876 acres) ahead of planned range improvements. This inventory documented 61 archaeological resources including 39 newly identified sites, 22 previously recorded sites, and 43 isolated finds. Twenty of these sites were recommended eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places due to their high archaeological data potential. These sites included large lithic and ground stone scatters, rock art, and hunting blinds dating to the Middle Archaic through the Terminal Prehistoric.

Far Western’s findings from the inventory have led to ongoing subsurface testing at several of the springs. As of 2019, Far Western has conducted test excavations at four spring sites in the Twin Peaks Grazing Allotment. Testing at the springs in the areas of the planned range improvements determined that the work would not cause adverse effects to the sites. Meanwhile, additional discretionary testing in the general site areas have encountered rich archaeological deposits, documenting intact subsurface cultural components, and a rock lined hearth feature. Over 4,000 artifacts were recovered during excavation including ground stone with preserved starch grains, dietary faunal remains, robust samples of obsidian artifacts for hydration analysis and XRF sourcing, a Paleoindian-era Crescent, and a buried rock-lined hearth feature. The study also included analysis of each spring’s hydrology and local ecology, tying reconstructed trends in site occupation to spring productivity. This work has provided some of the first this kind of detailed archaeological data in the Smoke Creek Borderlands, furthering our understanding of how prehistoric people in the region utilized the springs and surrounding upland resources throughout the Holocene. Far Western was invited to present the project findings alongside state and federal archaeologists working in the western Great Basin at an organized paper session at the 2019 Society for California Archaeology Annual Meeting.

Storrie Fire Remediation Testing

In August of 2000, the Storrie Fire burned over 52,000 acres across the Lassen and Pluman National Forests. As part of the rehabilitation and restoration of the fire area, Far Western conducted test excavations at an expansive archaeological site originally thought to be a prehistoric fine-grained-volcanic (FGV) quarry located on the Sierra Nevada within Plumas County. Testing focused on four areas with high surface densities of archaeological artifacts, determining that restoration efforts would not negatively impact the site. While Far Western recommended the site as not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, the excavation and analysis of recovered material provides insight into regional FGV toolstone procurement. Study of the site revealed that it contains a greater degree of artifact diversity than that found at FGV quarry sites in the area. Instead of a dedicated quarry visited for the sole purpose of acquiring raw material for stone tools, prehistoric inhabitants were likely drawn to the location due to its streams and marshes, engaging in opportunistic procurement of the naturally occurring toolstone in the area.

Erik’s Featured Publications

Martin, Erik P.


An Examination of the Role of Costly Signaling and Projectile Optimization in Prehistoric Large Game Hunting in the Great Basin. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

Martin, Erik P., Joan Brenner Coltrain, Brian F. Codding


Revisiting Hogup Cave, Utah: Insights from New Radiocarbon Dates and Stratigraphic Analysis. American Antiquity, 82:301-324.

Broughton, J.M., Martin, E. P., McEneaney, B., Wake, T., and Simons, D.D.


Late Holocene Anthropogenic Depression of Sturgeon in San Francisco Bay, California. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, 35:3-27.

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