Dr. Hill’s interests fall into several, overlapping realms, with multiple, active projects in various stages of development and completion. The first revolves around the study of hunter-gatherer diet and subsistence behavior, mobility strategies, and site structure using archaeological data and methods. He (often in collaboration with colleagues and students) has gathered new primary evidence via work in the field and on extant museum collections to address questions about the late Pleistocene/early Holocene (Paleoindian) and middle Holocene (early and middle Archaic) occupation of the Midcontinent and Great Plains.
Vertebrate taphonomy and site formation processes in ancient and recent contexts is another research interest. Among other activities, Dr. Hill has analyzed a modern, large animal (cow and horse) bone accumulation in Nebraska, a paleontological collection from the Missouri River, and conducted an exhaustive, experimental study on breakage of bison, elk, and deer long bones, all with an eye on developing a better understanding the formation of the archaeological record.
Dr. Hill is also known for his work on bison ecology and biogeography, as it relates to prehistoric human exploitation of the animal and regional paleoecology. For example, he has used osteometrics and stable isotopes to monitor changes in bison body size, dietary preferences, social behaviors, and patterns of movement through time and across space. These efforts dovetail nicely with his new research on elk-moose (Cervalces sp.) paleoecology.
Other on-going projects include analysis of the extant faunal remains from Trinil, Java, which produced the produced the original “missing link” (i.e., “Java Man” = Homo erectus) fossils in 1891, in collaboration with John Kappelman and Frank Huffman (University of Texas) and Larry Todd (Colorado State University). Dr. Hill, Tom Loebel (Illinois State Archaeological Survey), and John Lambert (UC-Davis) are also deeply involved in a project aimed at understanding the significance of suspected Late Paleoindian ritual sites in the western Great Lakes; to this end, the team has reanalyzed the collections from Deadman Slough and Renier in Wisconsin and Gorto on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as well as conducted field investigations at DeWulf in northwestern Illinois.