Timothy (Tim) Kohler is an archaeologist known primarily for contributions to understanding the pre-Hispanic history of the US Southwest and for development of approaches to computational archaeology. Kohler was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa, received an AB from New College of Sarasota, and an MA and PhD in anthropology (archaeology) from the University of Florida. He has spent his entire career at Washington State University, Pullman, rising from non-tenure-track adjunct professor to Regents Professor of Archaeology and Evolutionary Anthropology (now emeritus), with sojourns to the School of American Research (now SAR), Santa Fe; the Santa Fe Institute (where he is an External Professor); the University of Calgary; the University de Franche-Comte, Besancon; the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto; and the Christian-Albrechts-University zu Kiel as the Johanna-Mestorf-Chair. He is also a Research Associate of Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Cortez, Colorado. He has served as Editor of American Antiquity and is a Fellow of the AAAS and a Member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences. Recognitions also include the Alfred Vincent Kidder Award for Eminence in the Field of American Archaeology from the American Anthropological Association.

Research Interests

After an early-career switch from interests in the US Southeast that accompanied his immersion in the Dolores Archaeological Project in southwestern Colorado, Kohler directed excavations in Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico, as well as (in conjunction with the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center) the long-standing Village Ecodynamics Project. The VEP, prominently including many members of Kohler's lab, developed computational models and new empirical methods to reconstruct paleodemography, subsistence, settlement, conflict, and polity growth among Puebloan farmers in the first and early second millennium CE. A key contribution was the development high-resolution, climate-driven paleoproductivity models for maize in the upland Southwest which in turn allowed identification of notable cyclicity in pre-Hispanic construction activities. Determining causes for this cyclicity (including the famous depopulation of the northern Southwest in the late 1200s), and identification of early warning signals for terminations, remain active areas of investigation. Because rising wealth inequality is implicated in these cycles Kohler and his lab have also worked to measure prehistoric wealth inequality in the Southwest, and worldwide, and to assess the causes and consequences of variability in wealth inequality. Through all this Kohler has developed approaches to ancient societies and ecosystems as coupled complex adaptive systems, leading to involvement with the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report and consideration of humanity's futures under novel thermal regimes.

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Primary Section

Section 51: Anthropology