Luke Trout: Uncovering Ancient Civilizations

Luke Trout’s interest in archeology began early in life – with Easter eggs. As a child, Trout would ask his family to hide the colored eggs over and over again. When his father began to manage ranch land in Colorado, Trout’s interest in Easter eggs shifted to the arrowheads he discovered there. The rest, he says, is history.

Trout (’09) recently finished an archaeological internship in the Arizona desert with the Student Conservation Association. For 10 hours a day, four days a week, Trout and a team of fellow interns surveyed various five-square mile plots of land in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. They searched for and documented artifacts, primarily from the ancient Hohokam culture, as part of an effort to reintroduce native quail and antelope populations to the area.

It was difficult to develop the skills to find the artifacts, Trout says. “You’re looking for shards of pottery made out of earth, lying on the earth. It takes weeks to get an eye for it. But about once a week, a really cool site would pop up and really make our day.”

On his days off, Trout would volunteer time to the Center for Desert Archaeology. While the internship was focused on creating and inventory of artifacts, the Center was more interested in recording the ancient Hohokam village sites.

Using a GPS device, Luke would trace his path as he walked along the foundation walls of the civilizations. The result is a computerized layout – almost a blueprint – of the communities he surveyed.

While attending HSU, Trout worked for the U.S. Forest Service one summer killing weeds in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada. While at work, Trout regularly found lithic flakes – the byproducts of making arrowheads out of stone cores – and brought the GPS coordinates of their exact whereabouts to the archaeologist in his Forest Service office. This was his “in” to archaeology.

The following summer, the USFS offered him a job as an archaeology technician and, after his Student Conservation Association internship this winter in Arizona, he returned to work for the Forest Service as a crew chief.

Trout, who is currently looking at graduate schools, credits several campus resources with setting him on his path. He was actively involved in the Native American Studies/Ensuring Native Inherent Traditions Club and The Center for Indian Community Development, which helped him get his first archaeology job. And his professors, including Mary Scoggin, Todd Braje, Jonathan Damp and Alexis Bunten helped Trout focus on his future.

Two other factors that contributed to Trout’s exceptional experience at HSU was his involvement with HSU crew, and the Native American Studies/ENIT club which puts on the annual Big Time and Social Gathering. “These experiences completed the package for a wonderful and rich experience at HSU, which clearly made an positive impact on my life.

Read more about Luke’s work with the Student Conservation Association »