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EIU Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Criminology

Dr. Donald Holly

Dr. Donald Holly, associate professor of Anthropology, is one of two trained archaeologists at Eastern. Holly teaches classes such as Introduction to Anthropology, Archaeology of the Earliest Civilizations, Native American Cultures, Human Evolution, and Hunters and Gatherers.

"At Eastern you have to be a generalist. You have to teach a broad range of courses within Anthropology, which I enjoy. It's fun. It keeps me up on the field," Holly said.Dr. Holly

Holly's main research centers on hunters and gatherers, people who rely on wild plants and animals for food.

Holly's first archaeological "dig" took place over 20 years ago when he was a freshman in college. He went on to receive his bachelor's in Anthropology at Penn State University and received his Master's and Ph.D in Anthropology at Brown University.

Holly's main research area is the island of Newfoundland, Canada, where he has been working since 1995. His most recent project focuses on an archaeological site in Trinity Bay, located in the southeastern part of the island. His particular interest is in the history of the Beothuk—a Native American people who lived on the island when Europeans first arrived.

"One of the reasons I'm interested in them is because we don't know a lot about them," Holly said. "That's what makes the archaeology of them interesting."

On an archaeological excavation, Holly said you can find out how people lived, what they ate, what time of year they were there and what types of tools they used.

In 2010, Holly brought Eastern student, Ryan Holland, to Newfoundland to help excavate. Holland unearthed a 700-year-old arrowhead.

Holly urges students to sign-up for fieldwork as early as their freshman year to get experience in the field you want to study in.

"Do it as early as you can so you start to become an expert in an area that interests you," Holly said.

One of Holly's students recently completed fieldwork in the Amazon where he lived with the Kayapo people and learned how to interview and speak with them.

"Fieldwork is the bread and butter of anthropology," Holly said. "Our research methods classes are in the field. It's more than just studying data sets and perusing archives, you have to go somewhere to learn how to do anthropology."

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Contact Information

Eastern Illinois University
Department of Sociology/Anthropology/Criminology

Blair 3170
600 Lincoln Avenue
Charleston, IL 61920
(217) 581-3123

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