Celicia Benitez

Celicia Benitez
Mentor: Dr. Ken Sassaman
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
"I saw the University Scholars Program as the perfect opportunity to experience many aspects of a research project, such as working with a mentor, presenting the information and conclusions of the project, and learning from others involved in research. The USP will also allow me to jump start on my senior honors thesis as that will be a continuation of my USP research."


Anthropology, Linguistics



Research Interests

  • Osteology
  • Human Migration
  • Isotopic Sampling

Academic Awards

  • Essenpreis Scholarship
  • Dean's List
  • President's Honor Roll


  • Lambda Alpha Anthropology Honors Society


  • C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory
  • Southeast Archaeological Laboratory
  • Cahokia Mounds Excavation Program

Hobbies and Interests

  • Playing Piano
  • Reading
  • Photography

Research Description

Using Isotopes to Track Human Migration in the Archaic Southeast
As a cause for culture change in the ancient past, migration has long been regarded as a non-explanation. Since the 1960s, North American archaeologists have tended to explain culture change in localized terms, particularly among pre-Columbian American Indian groups assumed to be circumscribed socially and geographically. However, the long-distance movement of material goods and resources among these groups suggests that even small-scale societies participated in networks of interaction that could span half the continent. Unfortunately, archaeologists cannot always discriminate between the movement of materials through down-the-line exchange from the resettlement of entire communities and their material culture. Recent advances in technology allow for the analysis of isotopes from human tooth enamel, enabling archaeologists to trace the movements of people from their birthplace to location of death, thus circumventing the ambiguity of material culture. The proposed research is designed to test the hypothesis that a population buried at Bird Island, Florida immigrated to Florida from north Georgia, the major source area for soapstone. This will be conducted through isotopic analyses of tooth enamel from 15 individuals from the Bird Island population.