James Woods is the Director of the Herrett Center for Arts and Sciences and Associate Professor of Anthropology at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. He has a BFA in Ceramics from Boise State University and a Masters of Arts degree in Anthropology from Idaho State University. Woods has worked in the northwest as well as in Guatemala specializing in the study of ancient stone tools. Most recently, he and his students have been conducting experimental studies designed to learn more about ancient stone technology such as the manufacture and use of stone arrow points and the ancient techniques used to fabricated polished stone jewelry. Wood is a recipient of the Idaho Humanities Council's "Outstanding Achievement in the Humanities" and "Professional Achievement Award" from Idaho State University.
Humans moved into Idaho at the end of the ice age, 12,000 years ago. They adapted to our driest deserts and highest mountain valleys. The culture they developed serves as a remarkable statement of human ingenuity and adaptability to changing conditions and new challenges.
Any of four program topics can be selected to illustrate the adaptability of Idaho’s earliest residents.
Prehistoric Southern Idaho
This program uses photos of Idaho sites and artifacts, early historic photos, maps, and graphics to summarize the prehistory of this region.
Stone Tools and Weapons of Ancient Idaho
A demonstration of how stone artifacts were made and an exhibit of replicas of stone tools from all periods of southern Idaho prehistory.
Elephant Hunters of the Snake River Plain
This program focuses on the earliest Idahoans and includes photos of their distinctive artifacts, maps, graphics and a summary of what is currently known of these earliest residents.
The Buhl Woman: A 11,000 Year-Old Burial from The Snake River Plain
This program examines the oldest burial in Idaho, the young woman in the grave, her ethnicity, materials interred with her, and a discussion of current laws and ethics related to prehistoric human remains.
A Case Study of the Ancient Maya with Implications for Modern America Archaeologists have learned that the “collapse” of the Classic Maya civilization was due to interplay of environmental and cultural events. Drought, insect infestations, deforestation, spread of disease, collapse of traditional farming systems, overpopulation, loss of trust in the ruling elite, and increase in the civil unrest all contributed to this event. Though no one factor was sufficient to trigger the collapse, the simultaneous occurrence of several of them was enough to end one of America’s greatest cultures. This slide presentation shows how the story of the Maya is pertinent to modern society, where many similar events are being played out today. This presentation introduces the natural world of the Maya and includes slides from personal research at one of the oldest and largest stone ruins in Guatemala. Massive stucco masks of strange deities adorn the fronts of pyramids built before the time of Christ and provide tantalizing clues about the rise and fall of these resourceful people.
Our society has made remarkable advancements in technology since the advent of metals. These achievements have been made possible only after many thousands of years of experimentation with more modest materials such as bone, wood, fiber, shell, and stone. Though the distance between steel and bone may seem long, the minds of ancient toolmakers were as analytical as today’s engineers, observant as today’s artists, and as skilled as today’s craftsmen. Ancient people produced swords of wood and stone that were sharper than steel, drilled holes in jade using drill bits made of bone, and develop weapons of wood capable of dispatching from a distance the now-extinct mega-beasts of the last ice age. This program uses a combination of slides and demonstrations, and is enhanced by numerous replicas illustrating a variety of clever and unusual tools and weapons made and used by our prehistoric ancestors. Included in this presentation are several vignettes of recent case studies showing how archaeologists use replication analysis to learn more about ancient technology.