Michael, Henry N. 1913–2006

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Michael, Henry N. 1913–2006

(Henry Nathaniel Michael)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born July 14, 1913, in Pittsburgh, PA; died February 19, 2006, in Bryn Mawr, PA. Geographer, anthropologist, educator, and author. A retired Temple University professor, Michael made important contributions to archeological dating methods through his landmark studies of the rings of bristlecone pine trees. A World War II U.S. Army veteran, he attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a B.A. in 1948, an M.A. in 1951, and a Ph.D. in 1954. Michael worked briefly as an editor for a publishing house in Philadelphia before joining the Temple University faculty as an assistant professor in 1959. That year, he began his research on tree rings. Bristlecone pines are trees that can live to be thousands of years old, and Michael took advantage of this fact to examine the growth rings of ancient pines found in the White Mountains in California. He continued such research into the 1980s, helping to correct previous errors in dating archeological sites by scientists who used radiocarbon dating alone. For example, archeologists used Michael's research to show that ancient peoples living in northern Europe were not actually descendants of settlers from Greece or Egypt, as was previously believed. Retiring from Temple in 1980, Michael continued to work as a research fellow at the Museum of Applied Science Center for Archaeology until 2005. Also a linguist, he was fluent in Russian, which aided his work in another field of expertise, the cultures of Arctic peoples. In this capacity, he edited a series on anthropology of northern cultures from original Russian sources for the University of Toronto Press, including The Neolithic Age in Eastern Siberia (1958), Studies in Siberian Shamanism (1963), and The Archaeology of Western Siberia (1972).



New York Times, February 25, 2006, p. A13.

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Michael, Henry N. 1913–2006

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