Gregory Wilson

Department Chair

Office Hours

Tuesdays & Thursdays 3:30-4:30 pm

Contact Phone

(805) 893-4194

Office Location

HSSB 1036
Department Chair Room HSSB 2001E


Archaeology (emergent complexity, identity politics, warfare; Eastern North America, particularly the Mississippi valley and interior southeastern United States)


PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Research Interests

My archaeological research is concerned with issues of social inequality, identity politics, and violence in pre-Columbian North and South America.  My perspective is informed by contemporary theoretical research on human agency, practice, and political economy.  I investigate these issues through a household and community-centered archaeology with an emphasis on the methodologically rigorous analysis of large and diverse datasets.

My current research consists of a collaborative project that explores the catastrophic and wide-ranging consequences of war on Mississippian period communities in the Central Illinois River Valley.  This three-year National Science Foundation funded project has revealed that Mississippian groups in the region sacrificed important dimensions of food security and health in order to minimize their exposure to inter-group violence. 

I am also investigating issues of identity politics in the context of the northern expansion of the Mississippian cultural frontier culture, a complex multiregional phenomenon linked to the 11th century regional consolidation of Cahokia, the largest and most complex Native American polity in North America.  My exploration of this topic has revealed that Cahokia’s northern hinterlands were defined by a surprising juxtaposition of cultural change and continuity.


Sample Publications



ANTH 143F- Ethics in Archaeology (4)

Prerequisite: Anthropology 3 or 3SS.

An analysis of ethics in contemporary archaeology. Topics include reburial and repatriation, interpretation of the archaeological record in the context of historically oppressed groups, ethnic minorities, and non-western societies. The course also includes the ethics of collecting and managing cultural property.

ANTH 182M. Introduction to Lithic Analysis (4)

Prerequisite: Anthropology 3 or 3SS or 100.

This course is designed to introduce the student to the fundamentals of lithic technological organization and analytical techniques.  Considering that stone tools represent the majority of the prehistoric archaeological record, the technological and cultural significance of lithics cannot be overstated.  Classes will consist of a combination of hands-on lithic analysis, experimental stone tool production and use, and critical discussion of published articles.  Course topics include raw material identification, fracture mechanics, flaking techniques, debitage and core analysis, typology, projectile point technologies, groundstone tools, Paleolithic technologies, artifact illustration, use wear analysis and considerations of style.

Winter 2013

ANTH 119. Household Archaeology (4)

Prerequisite: Anthropology 3 or 3SS.

Household Archaeology plays a central role in the analysis of a wide range of anthropological
issues, such as wealth, status, economic risk, gender, political networks, and ethnicity. Focuses of how to integrate household data into abstract general theories of social process.

Fall 2012

ANTH 206. Middle Range Societies (Graduate Seminar)

The origins and development of social complexity has long been a central research problem in archaeology.  This seminar explores the meaning and manifestations of “complexity” as the concept relates to the world’s first civilizations.  A principal goal of the course is to familiarize students with the different theoretical perspectives from which the origins of complexity have been investigated.  We begin by reading several Functionalist and Structural Functionalist ethnologies from the mid-20th century and conclude with a review of the most current archaeological studies.

Fall 2011

ANTH 201B Contemporary Archaeological Theory (Graduate Seminar)

This course focuses on Archaeological theoretical trends since the 1980's. Particular emphasis is placed on important theoretical developments in the last decade. Your primary challenge in this course is to critically evaluate the weekly readings. You will do this on a weekly basis in class discussions. There will also be three, 5-page essays that you will write on different theoretical issues.