Archaeology

Recent Faculty Research

Cynthia Robin

Cynthia Robin has led an international multi-disciplinary team that is studying the 2000-year history of the ancient Maya farming community of Chan in Belize.  Chan’s occupation spans the periods of the rise and fall of pre-Columbian Maya civilization, making Chan an ideal place not only to learn about Maya farmers, but also to explore how ordinary life affected and was affected by broader changes in a society.  The National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Geographic Society, the John J. Heinz III Charitable Trust, and Northwestern University, has funded her research at Chan. Read more about the Chan Project. 

Robin’s previous publications include “Gender, Farming, and Long-Term Change: Maya Historical and Archaeological Perspectives” (Current Anthropology), “New Directions in Classic Maya Household Archaeology” (Journal of Archaeological Research), “Outside of Houses: The Practices of Everyday Life at Chan Nòohol, Belize” (Journal of Social Archaeology), “Peopling the Past: New Perspectives on the Ancient Maya” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Gender, Households, and Society: Unraveling the Threads of the Past and the Present (Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association), Spatial Theory and Archaeological Ethnographies, a special section in the Journal of Social Archaeology and the book Preclassic Maya Burials at Cuello, Belize (British Archaeological Reports).

Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson is leading the Northwestern element of a collaborative fieldwork project at the castles of Scotney and Bodiam in southeastern England.  The fieldwork is being run in collaboration with the University of Southampton, UK, and in partnership with the stewards of the site, the National Trust. The aim of the project is to better understand castles and other high-status sites in later medieval England. Previous work, particularly at Bodiam, has often seen castles in primarily military terms, and their evolution as a response to changing methods of attack and defense. Others have seen castles and palaces as symbols of status and authority, surrounded by carefully designed landscapes. Read more about fieldwork at Scotney and Bodiam.

To explore the histories of these sites, we are using a variety of non-destructive techniques that include: 

  • Careful stone-by-stone analysis of the buildings themselves;
  • Geophysical and topographical survey of the landscapes surrounding Bodiam and Scotney;
  • Digital reconstruction of the sites as they may have appeared in the middle ages;
  • Documentary analysis of sites in the region and their owners.

Mark Hauser

Mark Hauser is leading archaeological research on the island of Dominica with the aid of the National Science Foundation and the Wenner Gren Foundation. This research compares the community histories and social lives of enslaved laborers on two eighteenth century sugar plantations in Dominica. Research includes survey archaeology, targeted excavation, spatial analysis, and documentary research. He works closely in collaboration with community members and Caribbean based scholars.

Mark runs excavations related to prehistoric, proto-historic and colonial era sites. He is primarily concerned with inequality in (historical) context through things typical overlooked and left out of the documentary record. Specifically, he has focused on the ways in which enslaved and freed peoples of African descent created and transformed social and economic landscapes within the context of Caribbean plantation societies. Read more about the Archaeological Survey of Central Dominca.