My research centers on the archaeology and culture history of Native societies in the Chesapeake. I am interested in developing a "deep" historical anthropology of these communities that explores cultural practices before and after colonial contact. This approach begins to challenge notions of a "prehistoric" past comprised of homogenized, traditional, and static societies lacking history. It also offers important insights into the Native responses to colonialism that are difficult to recognize from documentary sources alone.
BS Georgetown U 1990
MA U Virginia 1995
PhD U Virginia 1999
Anth 150w Archaeology & Ethnohistory of Va Indians - Spring 2006 Syllabus (pdf)
Anth 201 Introduction to Archaeology - Fall 2006 Syllabus (pdf)
Anth 225/425 Archaeological Field Methods - Summer 2005 Syllabus (pdf)
Anth 301 Methods in Archaeology - Spring 2007 Syllabus (pdf)
Anth 322 Archaeology of North America - Spring 2006 Syllabus (pdf)
Anth 454/554 Quantitative Research Methods in Anthro - Fall 2006 Syllabus (pdf)
Anth 455/555 Practicing Cultural Resource Management - Spring 2003 Syllabus (pdf)
Anth 470 Archaeology of Colonial Encounter - Spring 2004 Syllabus (pdf)
Anth 603 Archaeological Theory - Fall 2004 Syllabus (pdf)
Since 2003 I have directed excavations at the Powhatan politcal center of Werowocomoco. The research, a collaborative effort of the Werowocomoco Research Group explores the colonial encounter from the perspective of a prominent Native settlement and focuses on evidence of exchange, subsistence, and cultural landscapes. Partnerships with tribes descended from the Powhatans are an integral part of the project. Project Background and report from 2003 season (pdf) (15 Mb).
Our recent research at the site shifts the focus of inquiry away from English colonial narratives and toward a history of landscape for an alternative understanding of Werowocomoco as a Native place. Archaeological investigations have identified evidence of earthwork features and related social practices that altered the built environment and subjective experiences of its spaces in ways that colonial chroniclers failed to appreciate. A landscape history combining built environments, cognitive maps, and spatial practices across the historic / pre-contact divide indicates that the settlement became a ritualized location central to the production of political status and social personhood well before English colonization in the Chesapeake. Spatial practices rooted in Algonquian cosmology and centered on Werowocomoco shaped the origins of the Powhatan chiefdom and early colonial history through which Powhatans sought to incorporate the Jamestown colonists into their world. A biography of Werowocomoco as a Native place illustrates ways that a deep historical anthropology may challenge notions of a “prehistoric” past comprised of homogenized societies lacking history.
Chickahominy River Survey
The Chickahominy River Survey, directed by William and Mary archaeologists Norm Barka and Ben McCary, identified a rich array of Native sites in the Chickahominy drainage. I am working with colleagues at the College and the contemporary Chickahominy Tribe to complete the reporting of this field work.
Virginia Archaeobotanical Database
After completing a preliminary study of Werowocomoco's botanical record, archaeobotanist Justine McKnight and I realized that the regional context for these data is poorly understood. Did Native societies in the Chesapeake adopt the Eastern Agricultural Complex? When did Native societies first begin to grow cultigens? When did maize-based horticulture assume a prominent enough role to appear in the archaeological record? How much did communities in the region rely on horticulture? We have begun to construct a regional database of archaeobotanical evidence allowing us to address these questions and to trace the precontact history of horticultural practices in the Chesapeake.