- University of Virginia, Ph.D., 2012
- University of Virginia, M.A., 2007
- Cornell University, B.A., 2000
Research InterestsResearch Interests
Dr. Adam Watson’s research explores human interaction with the environment, political economy, ritual, and the development of societal complexity. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.
Specializing in archaeozoology and GIS, Watson has applied these methods to examine the development of complex societies and changing patterns of human subsistence, economy, and landscape utilization in relation to environmental uncertainty in pre-Columbian North America. His past research has investigated food procurement strategies, agricultural productivity, trends in craft industries, and the role of communal ritual among Ancestral Pueblo communities in and around Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. During the 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries AD, these communities emerged as the core of an extensive regional network and Watson’s latest project addresses key questions related to the organization of the Chacoan economy throughout the rise and decline of the canyon’s regional prominence. The Hyde Exploring Expedition (1896-1900), sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, excavated the now well-known site of Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon and encountered remarkably rich and well-preserved cultural deposits including one of the largest assemblages of bone artifacts ever recovered from the region. To better understand long-term trends in the Chacoan economy, Watson’s research tracks changes in the manufacture and use of these implements by studying patterns in raw material choice and variation in microscopic wear traces from which the uses of these artifacts (such as the manufacture of basketry and clothing) may be inferred.
Watson has organized numerous archaeological surveys and participated in excavations throughout the southwestern and northeastern United States and Turkey. His ongoing research also investigates the political economic implications of changing subsistence and economic practices among Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) peoples during the 17th and 18th centuries in what is now upstate New York.
2015 Adam S. Watson, Stephen Plog, Brendan J. Culleton, Patricia A. Gilman, Steven A. LeBlanc, Peter M. Whiteley, Santiago Claramunt and Douglas J. Kennett. Early procurement of scarlet macaws and the emergence of social complexity in Chaco Canyon, NM. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(27):8238-8243.
2015 Bones as Raw Material: Temporal Trends and Spatial Variability in the Chacoan Bone Tool Industry. In Chaco Revisited: New Research on the Prehistory of Chaco Canyon, NM, edited by Steve Plog and Carrie Heitman, pp. 132-161. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
2015 R. Gwinn Vivian and Adam S. Watson. Reevaluating Agricultural Potential in the Chaco Core. In Chaco Revisited: New Research on the Prehistory of Chaco Canyon, NM, edited by Steve Plog and Carrie Heitman, pp. 30-65. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
2014 Ritual, Cuisine, and Commensal Politics at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. In Animals and Inequality in the Ancient World, edited by Benjamin Arbuckle and Sue Ann McCarty, pp. 145-166. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.
2013 Adam S. Watson and Stephen Cox Thomas. The Lower Great Lakes Fur Trade, Local Economic Sustainability and the Bone Grease Buffer: Vertebrate Faunal Remains from the Eighteenth Century Seneca Iroquois Townley-Read Site. Northeast Anthropology 79-80: 81-123.
2012 Stephen Plog and Adam S. Watson. The Chaco Pilgrimage Model: Evaluating the Evidence from Pueblo Alto. American Antiquity 77(3):449-477.
in press Stephen Plog, Carrie Heitman, and Adam S. Watson. Key Dimensions of the Prehistoric Cultural Trajectories of Chaco Canyon. In Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the American Southwest, edited by Barbara Mills and Severin Fowles. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
in press W. James Stemp, Adam Watson, and Adrian A. Evans. Surface Analysis of Stone and Bone Tools. Surface Topography: Metrology and Properties.
in press Adam S. Watson and Matthew A. Gleason. A Comparative Assessment of Texture Analysis Techniques Applied to Bone Tool Use-Wear. Surface Topography: Metrology and Properties.