Elizabeth Alden Little, a physicist and archeologist, died on Aug. 12 from lung cancer. She was 76.
Little graduated with a degree in physics from Wellesley in 1948, and received her doctorate six years later from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was working on new techniques for depositing phosphors on color television screens at General Electric when she decided to quit her job, marry and raise a family.
Once her children had grown, Little returned to college and turned her love of local history into a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She then applied her past knowledge of physics research to archeological experiments. For example, she used radiocarbon dating to trace animal bones and establish the dietary habits of early populations.
Little published more than 70 articles on the historic and prehistoric Native Americans in the Northeast. She received the Preservation Award from the Massachusetts Historical Commission for producing the first catalog of archeological sites on Nantucket. In 1988, the commission also gave her its 25th anniversary Preservation Award for her efforts to reduce damage to Nantucket archeological sites.