Research Interests

I study the archaeological record as a comparative social and behavioral scientist. I want to know why, after successfully surviving as hunters and foragers for over 50 millennia with a fully modern evolved psychology, humans quickly settled in villages and towns to create complex social organizations in the early Holocene. This is fundamentally a question of how large-scale human political and economic cooperation evolved over a rapid period of time. This cultural evolutionary process occurred independently in several areas of the world indicating that exogenous factors underlie this process. My work in South America provides data at a millennial time scale to model the evolution of cooperation from small village societies to expansive state systems among human populations. This works points to the importance of ritualizing aspects of the domestic economy, intergroup conflict and resource patchiness as key exogenous factors in the evolution of complex cooperation in the archaeological record. This research, combined with comparable work from other areas of the world, allows us to model the evolution of human cooperation over the last ten millennia.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 51: Anthropology