--Bioarchaeology, paleopathology, dental anthropology, mortuary analysis
-- Forensic anthropology and forensic taphonomy
-- Prehistoric and Historic Andean South America; organization of complex societies
-- Health, violence, identity, and ethnogenesis
-- Theory and methods in bioarchaeology
Coming to George Mason University in 2013, my teaching and research center on the bioarchaeology of the north coast of Peru. My work also spans human skeletal biology and anatomy, pathophysiology, burial taphonomy, and forensic anthropology. I teach sections of Anthropology 135 (Becoming Human: Introduction to Physical Anthropology) and will soon be introducing courses on paleopathology, bioarchaeology, Andean prehistory, forensic anthropology, and related special seminars.
The human skeleton is the single most information-dense source of knowledge about the past. While human biology and health are indeed products of our underlying genes, it is our environments, economics, and behaviors that shape elements of skeletal and dental biology far more directly. Since its founding in 2003, I have directed the Lambayeque Valley Biohistory Project, a sustained, multi-decade, international, multidisciplinary, and regional field bioarchaeology program on the desert north coast of Peru. Using the human skeleton as our central source of information, my students, colleagues, and I excavate archaeological sites and mortuary contexts. We seek to learn of the lives of the people: how did developments of socioeconomic and political complexity, violence, new technologies, and hostile Andean environments shape unfolding of 10,000 years of history in this center of Andean civilization?
To explore the answers to these questions, project members from Peru, Japan, Canada, and the United States employ a biohistorical approach in the examination of multiple kinds of information, which include skeletal infection and chronic biological stress, osteoarthritis related to physical activity, patterns of human growth and growth retardation, paleodemographic reconstructions, diet, bone/tooth isotopic chemistry, evidence of ritual violence and sacrifice, and ancient DNA and proteomic variation.