Dr. Marie Dolores Jackson

Adjunct Faculty Member, Department of History
(BA, BS University of California-Santa Cruz, Doctorat d'Université, Université de Nantes, France, PhD Johns Hopkins University 1987)
Roman Archaeology, Construction History, Material Properties of Concretes and Building Stone, Volcaniclastic Rocks.
Email: Marie.Jackson@nau.edu 

Research interests 

The underlying theme of my present research is to describe scientifically the technical expertise of ancient builders and architects. I apply analytical techniques from the earth sciences to the archaeological study of the cut-stone and concrete architecture of ancient Rome, which is unique in its innovative use of local volcanic rock and its continuation to modern time. 

Currently, I am integrating experimental tests of stone and concrete material properties, studies of Roman volcanic stratigraphy, and petrographic and geochemical investigations of diagenetic processes in Roman volcaniclastic rocks with field observations of ancient concretes in monumental structures and seawater harbor constructions.

Correlation of the results of these observations and laboratory tests with analyses of ancient texts (such as Vitruvius' De Architectura (31-27 BCE)) reveal the processes of human observation, discovery, and invention that led to the development of extraordinarily durable Roman concretes.

These multi-disciplinary methods will help solve archaeological, geological, and materials science research problems and assist in preservation of structures that are of archaeological and anthropological significance to academic researchers and the general public.

For information about the repository of samples of ancient Roman building stone and concrete, collected with the permission of the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma and the Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali del Comune di Roma, please send an email message with your query to Marie.Jackson@nau.edu.

Recent publications 

 “Micromorphological textures and pozzolanic cements in Imperial age Roman concretes.” In Proceedings of the Second Historic Mortars Conference (HMC 2010). 22-24 September, 2010, Prague, edited by C. Moreau and J. Valek.
Coauthors: B. Scheetz, and F. Marra

“Cement compositions and durability in ancient Roman seawater concretes.” In Proceedings of the Second Historic Mortars Conference (HMC 2010). 22-24 September, 2010, Prague, edited by C. Moreau and J. Valek.
Coauthors: G. Vola, B. Scheetz, J. Oleson, C. Brandon, R. Hohlfelder

“Mid-Pleistocene volcanic ash in ancient Roman concretes.” Geoarchaeology. v. 25, p. 36-74, January 2010. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118641799/abstract
Coauthors: D. Deocampo, F. Marra, and B. E. Scheetz

 “Assessment of material characteristics of ancient concretes, Grande Aula, Markets of Trajan, Rome.” Journal of Archaeological Science. v. 36, p. 2481-2492, November 2009.
Coauthors: J. M. Logan, B. E. Scheetz, D. M. Deocampo, C. G. Cawood, F. Marra, M. Vitti, L. Ungaro

“Geological observations of excavated sand (harenae fossiciae) used as fine aggregate in ancient Roman pozzolanic mortars.” Journal of Roman Archaeology. v. 20, p. 1-30, December 2007.
Coauthors: F. Marra, D. Deocampo, A. Vella, C. Kosso, R. Hay.

“Vulcan’s Masonry.” Natural History Magazine, v. 116, n. 3, p. 40-45, April 2007.

"Roman Stone Masonry: Volcanic Foundations of the Ancient City." American Journal of Archaeology 110, no. 3, p. 403-436, July 2006.
Co-authored with Fabrizio Marra.

Other publications of interest 

"Ground ruptures of the 1974 and 1983 Kaoiki earthquakes, Mauna Loa volcano, Hawaii." Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 97, p. 8775-8796. 1992. Co-authored with E.T. Endo, P.T. Delaney, T. Arnadottir, and A.M. Rubin.

"Flexure and faulting of sedimentary host rocks during growth of igneous domes, southern Henry Mountains, Utah." Journal of Structural Geology, v. 12, p. 185-206. 1990. Co-authored with D.D. Pollard.

"The laccolith-stock controversy: New results from the southern Henry Mountains, Utah." Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 100, n. 1, p. 117-139. 1988. Co-authored with D.D. Pollard.

see also Discussion and Reply: Geological Society of America Bulletin 100, p. 1657-1659. 1988.



  • Map (Copyright: Piedra Azul Press, 2006; Jackson and Marra, 2006.)


Professional affiliations and service 

Geological Society of America
Archaeological Institute of America
American Concrete Institute
American Geophysical Union
Construction History Society
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Commissioner, Open Spaces Commission, City of Flagstaff, Arizona (Chairperson 2003-4)
Innovations in teaching that illustrate processes of earth and human history recorded by stone buildings in Flagstaff:     

  • Curricular materials - hands-on laboratory geoscience kits - for 9th grade geosciences programs in Flagstaff high schools.
  • Workshops for elementary school teachers through Willow Bend Environmental Resource Center, which illustrate active geologic processes within the city and ancient geologic processes that produced local building stone. These form part of 3rd grade social studies and science programs.
  • Lectures to diverse community groups on topics relating geosciences, civil engineering, and history in Flagstaff.