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 1st 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 La Porta 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 tri-state metropolitan area. 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 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. 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.