Philip Charles LaPorta

Philip C. LaPorta is an Adjunct Senior Research Scientist at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and Lifetime Director at The Center for the Investigation of Native and Ancient Quarries (CINAQ).  His research has strived to forge a meld between the principles of the geological sciences, and the systematic investigation of prehistoric quarries and ancient mines.  This realm of research represents the first logical subdivision of the broader field of Geo-Archaeology. 

In 1989, LaPorta published the first manuscript, and associated field excursion guide, focused directly on the stratigraphic relations of prehistoric chert quarries in the northeastern United States (NYSGA, 1989). The Prehistoric Quarries and Early Mines Interest Group (PQEMIG) was founded by LaPorta in 2006 for the Society of American Archaeology.  PQEMIG is an outgrowth of LaPorta’s research, and Philip served as its first director from 2005-2010. In 2006, LaPorta led the first Geological Society of America national meeting post-conference field trips to prehistoric quarries and mines in the New York metropolitan area.  Dr. LaPorta’s dissertation (2009) includes the first complete stratigraphic section, approx. 3,300’ at a scale of 1:98, for the Cambrian and Ordovician chert–bearing carbonates of the Kittatinny Supergroup in the tristate metropolitan area.  Additionally, Philip mapped greater than 2,000 prehistoric quarries and mines within the metropolitan region.  The dissertation serves as a type section for Cambrian and Ordovician nodular cherts, as well as a provenance tool for archaeological investigations.

In 2012, Philip founded CINAQ, a 501.c3 non-profit education charter in New York State, with the mission of educating the public and Indigenous peoples on this significant and much maligned resource.  Additionally, CINAQ houses the nation’s largest and most complete lithiotech; a taxonomically organized collection of geological materials, obtained from both prehistoric, as well as historic, mines, quarries, and outcrops.

Through the years, Dr. LaPorta’s research has grown to international levels.  His expertise has brought him to investigate Lower to Middle Paleolithic quarries in India and Israel; as well as Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze age quarries in Israel, Bulgaria and Poland.  Most recently, since 2003, Philip has been researching the Neolithic, Proto-dynastic, as well as Old Kingdom Pharonic quarries of Egypt.  Dr. LaPorta is unfolding new researches in geomicrobiology, neotectonics, cosmogenic isotope studies and paleotoxicology.

Philip received his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University (1977), his masters’ degrees from Queen’s College (1990, 1996), and his doctorate from the CUNY Graduate Center (2009).  Along the way, Philip founded LaPorta and Associates, Geological Consultants (1993-2013), now LaPorta Geological Consultants (2013 to present).

Through the years, Dr. LaPorta has designed geology courses for anthropology, archaeology and geography majors and graduated the first transdisciplinary majors from the CUNY system (1990 through 1995), employing his Cambrian-Ordovician geological and archaeological research as both a field and classroom laboratory.  Philip’s students went on to earn master’s degrees from Indiana University, Lamont Doherty, University of Kentucky, University of Rhode Island, and Texas A&M University.  Several of Dr. LaPorta’s former students earned Ph.D.’s from the University of Michigan, Lamont Doherty, and the University of Kentucky.  Philip has taught economic geology and ore deposit studies, optical mineralogy, invertebrate paleontology, geological field methods and mapping, as well as geo-archaeology field school at Queens, Hunter and Lehman colleges in the CUNY System, as well as at Montclair State and Pace universities.

Fields of Interest


  • Silica diagenesis and origin of nodular and bedded cherts,
  • geological co-occurrence of cherts with ore deposits (i.e. Carlin-type gold deposits, Mississippi Valley-type lead zinc deposits, Kuroko-type sulfide deposits, and ophiolite suites),
  • problematic and Climatic induced economic ore deposits,
  • complex pegmatites,
  • Appalachian tectonic stratigraphy,
  • sedimentary facies analysis,
  • carbonate and siliclastic stratigraphic relations and regional corellations,
  • timing of orogenic events (radiometric dating of bentonitic ash deposits) and unroofing processes,
  • provenance of cherts,
  • Cambrian and Ordovician biodiversity (algal stromatolite paleoecology),
  • Freundlich-Ostwald ripening processes,
  • sedimentology of clays as related to the diagenesis of cherts.

Archaeological Geology:

  • Hunter-gather/forager collector dynamics in Eastern Woodlands of North America,
  • development of prehistoric industrial landscapes, in particular extraction and resulting chain of operation of production systems,
  • refinement of stone tools,
  • rock mechanics,
  • petrofabric approach towards the analysis of stone tools,
  • understanding the strength of materials,
  • radiometric age dating of prehistoric rock surfaces (quarries, mines, and temples),
  • cosmogenic isotopes,
  • provenance of archaeological objects from the quarry source to the archaeological site of deposition in the lower Hudson Estuary employing Sr-Rb/U-Pb dating,.
  • prehistoric-lithic based economies and land utilization of the lower Hudson Estuary,
  • evolution of of Lower Paleolithic to the Neolithic quarry types of the Balkans, Western Mediterranean, North Africa and India,
  • Early/Old Dynasty quarry technology of Egypt,
  • groundstone industries of the Levant,
  • ethnoarchaeology of quarries and mine districts,
  • labor distribution,
  • social stratification and gender subdivision in mine and quarry commmunities,
  • ideological practices in quarries and mines,
  • archaeological site development in light of neotectonic events,
  • trade, exchange, and allocation,
  • the “district concept”, as applied to prehistoric mines and quarries,
  • paleo-toxicology.


Ph.D.        (geology/archaeological geology), The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 2009

M.Phil.      (geology), The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 1996

M.A.         (geology/archaeological geology), Queens College of the City University of New York, 1990

B.A.          (anthropology/geology), Rutgers University, Newark College of Arts and Sciences, New Jersey, 1977

Honors & Awards

1993: Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Award: Sandt's Eddy Site, Delaware River.

1989-1990: Harold Prozansky Dissertation Fellowship, CUNY Graduate Center

1997-1998:  Dissertation Year Fellowship, CUNY Graduate Center


PROFESSIONAL PUBLICATIONS (* Peer Reviewed) (# Most Referenced Papers, as of May, 2024, papers referenced in 195 peer scholarly papers)

*In prep.          LaPorta, P.C., The Cambrian-Ordovician Kittatinny Supergroup of northwestern New Jersey and southeastern New York: Revisions in Formation and Member Level Stratigraphy in The Bulletin of the Geological Society of America.


*In prep.          LaPorta, P.C., Brewer-LaPorta, M., and Minchak, S., Sedimentological and Stratigraphic Constraints on Prehistoric Bedrock Quarries in the First Tectonic Cycle of the Cambrian-Ordovician Appalachians, Archaeologica Polonia.


*In prep.          LaPorta, P.C., Brewer-LaPorta, M., Minchak, S., From Quarries to Fish Weirs; the Allocation of Raw Materials from Quarries of the Great Valley Sequence to the Estuaries of the Piedmont., UISPP, Paris.


*2020              LaPorta, P.C., Brewer-LaPorta, M., and Minchak, S., The Extraction of Chert Boudinage from the Lower-Middle Ordovician Ontelaunee Formation, Wallkill River Valley, Northwestern New Jersey-Southeastern New York in Collet, H., and Hauzeur, A., eds., Etudes & Document Archeologie: Anthropologie et Prehistoire.


*2018              LaPorta, P.C., Minchak, S., and Brewer-LaPorta, M.C. The Prehistoric Bedrock Quarries Occurring within the Chert Bearing Carbonates of the Cambrian-Ordovician Kittatinny Supergroup, Wallkill River Valley, Southeastern New York-Northwestern New Jersey, U.S.A. in Budziszewski, J., Werra, D., and Wozny, M., eds.  Between History and Archaeology: Dedicatory Volume to Professor Jacek Lech, Neolithic Prehistoric Mining and History of Archaeology, p. 133-146


*#2017            Lothrop, J.C., LaPorta, P.C., Diamond, J., Younge, M.H., and Winchell-Sweeney, S., New Data on PaleoIndian Sites and Isolated Finds in the Wallkill/Rondout Valley of New York and New Jersey in Gingerich, J., ed., Eastern Fluted Point Tradition II,  University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.


*2017              Lothrop, J.C., Beardsley, M., Clymer, M., Diamond, J., LaPorta, P.C., Younge, M., Winchell-Sweeney, S., PaleoIndian Landscapes in Southeastern and Central New York: PaleoAmerica, Center for the Study of First Americans, Texas A&M University, Routledge Press.


*2010              LaPorta, P., Minchak, S., and Brewer-LaPorta, M., The Life and History of Quarry Extraction Tools Excavated from the Skene Motion and Workshop, Hartford Basin, Champlain Valley, New York, USA  in Brewer-LaPorta, M., Burke, A., and Field, D. (eds.), Ancient Quarries and Mines: A Transatlantic Perspective: Oxbow Press, Oxford, U.K., p. 109-119.


*#2008            Schneider, J., and LaPorta, P.C., Geological Constraints on Ground Stone Production and Consumption in the Southern Levant, in Rowan, Y., and Ebeling, J., (eds.), New Approaches to Old Stones: Recent Studies of Ground Stone Artifacts:  Equinox Publishing, Ltd., 386 p.


*#2005            Barkai, R., Gopher, A., and LaPorta, P.C., Middle Pleistocene Landscape of Extraction: Quarry and Workshop Complexes in Northern Israel, in, Gorring-Inbar, N., and Sharon G., (eds), Axe Age: Acheulian Toolmaking from Quarry to Discard: Equinox Publishing, Ltd. p. 7-44.


2004                LaPorta, P.C., A geological model for the development of bedrock quarries, with an ethnoarchaeological application, in Topping, P., and Lynott, M., eds., The Cultural Landscape of Prehistoric Mines, Oxbow Books, U.K, 214 p.


*#2002            Barkai, R., Gopher, A., and LaPorta, P.C., Paleolithic Landscape of Extraction: Extensive Lower-Middle Paleolithic flint surface-quarries and workshops at Har Pua, Upper Galilee, The Journal Antiquity, v.76: p. 672-680.


2000                LaPorta, P.C., The geology of Iron Hill, Delaware and its characterization as a source of ferruginous chert, in Kellogg, D., ed., Current Issues in Mid-Atlantic Geoarchaeology: Society for American Archaeology Geoarchaeology Interest Group, Guidebook for the First Annual Field Trip, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 5, 2000.


*#1999            Petraglia, M., LaPorta, P.C., and Paddayya, K., The first Acheulian quarry in India: Stone tool manufacture, biface morphology, and behaviors: Journal of Anthropological Research, v. 55, p. 39-70.


#1996              LaPorta, P.C., Lithostratigraphy as a predictive tool for prehistoric quarry investigations: Examples from the Dutchess Quarry Site, Orange County, New York, in Lindner, C., ed., A Golden Chronograph for Robert E. Funk: Occasional Papers in Northeastern Anthropology No. 15: Bethlehem, Connecticut, Archaeological Services, p. 73-84.


1996                Bergman, C.A., Doershuk, J.F., LaPorta, P.C., and Schuldenrein, J., An introduction to the Early and Middle Archaic occupations at Sandt’s Eddy: Pennsylvania Archaeologist.


1994                LaPorta, P.C., Lithostratigraphic models and the geographic distribution of prehistoric chert quarries within the Cambro-Ordovician lithologies of the Great Valley Sequence, Sussex County, New Jersey, in Bergman, C.A. and Doershuk, J.F., eds., Recent Research into the Prehistory of the Delaware Valley, Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology, v. 10, p. 47-66.


1993    Bergman, C.A., LaPorta, P.C., Doershuk, J.F., Fassler, H., Rue, D., and Schuldenrein, J., The Padula Site (36Nm15) and chert resource exploitation in the Middle Delaware River Valley: Archaeology of Eastern North America, v. 20, p.