Thomas, David Hurst main content.

David Hurst Thomas

David Hurst Thomas

Curator of North American Archaeology, Division of Anthropology
Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School

Curriculum Vitae (short version)


  • University of California, Davis, Ph.D., 1971
  • University of California, Davis, Ph.C., 1970
  • University of California, Davis, M.A., 1968
  • University of California, Davis, B.A., 1967

Research Interests

Dr. Thomas continues to direct 40 years of sustained archaeological research on St. Catherines Island, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. Using remote sensing technology, his team discovered the long-lost site of the Franciscan Mission Santa Catalina de Guale (1566–1680) and conducted major excavations there for a dozen years. Recently, Dr. Thomas’s crew returned to the Pueblo surrounding the mission site for further excavations. In addition, his team is preparing several publications about its discoveries. Besides his work at the mission, Dr. Thomas has also focused on long-term subsistence and social change on St. Catherines Island, as well as population growth and increased social complexity at the island’s two Late Archaic shell ring sites.

In addition to his work in the American Southeast, Dr. Thomas and his team have also  excavated the ruins of Mission San Marcos (1620–1680) about 20 miles south of Santa Fe, NM. A sophisticated array of remote sensing technologies was used to map the subsurface structure of the site and then excavate significant architecturalfeatures in the church and convent. This project included a unique intern program with high-school-age members of the local descendant (Hispanic and Pueblo Indian) communities.

Dr. Thomas currently resumes his research in the Great Basin region, finishing a lengthy scientific monograph that tackles topics including radiocarbon dating and paleoclimatic change versus social change throughout the Basin.

Dr. Thomas's scholarly research also focuses on redefining the relationship between the Native American and anthropological communities. His 2001 book, Skull Wars, traces the development of the existing tensions in these relationships over the past two centuries, while seeking ways to build bridges between the groups' diverse perspectives. He has organized and directed more than 100 archaeological excavations, including the discovery of Gatecliff Shelter in Nevada, the deepest archaeological rockshelter in the Americas.


n.d. The Archaeology of Mission San Marcos, New Mexico. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History [in prep]. 

n.d. The Archaeology of Monitor Valley: 4. Alta Toquima and the Mt. Jefferson Tablelands Complex. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History [by David H. Thomas and Lorann S.A. Pendleton; in prep]. 

2014. Alta Toquima: Why Did Foraging Families Spend Summers at 11,000 Feet? In Archaeology in the Great Basin and Southwest, edited by Nancy J. Parezo and Joel C. Janetski, pp. 130–148. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.

2014. Social Responsibility and Culturally Conscious Approaches to Cremations: New and Old World Perspectives. In Fire and the Body: Cremation as a Context for Social Meaning,edited by Ian Kuijt, Gerald Cooney, and Colin Quinn. Tucson: University of Arizona Press [in review; by Liv Nilsson Stutz and DHT].

2014. Engineering Alta Toquima: Social Investments and Dividends at 11,000 Feet. In Engineering Mountain Landscapes: An Archaeology of Social Investment, edited by Maria N. Zedeño and Laura L. Scheiber. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press [in press].

2014. Archaeology: Down to Earth. 5th Edition, 274 pp. New York: Wadsworth Publishers [by Robert L. Kelly and David H. Thomas].

2013. Archaeology. 6th Edition, 468 pp. New York: Wadsworth Cengage Learning [by Robert L. Kelly and David H. Thomas]. 

2013. Revising the 14C Reservoir Correction for St. Catherines Island, Georgia. In Life among the Tides: Recent Archaeology on the Georgia Bight, edited by Victor D. Thompson and DHT. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 98: 25–46. [by DHT, Matthew C. Sanger, and Royce H. Hayes].

2012. Seasonality and Mobility on the Georgia Bight: Why Should We Care? In Seasonality and Human Mobility along the Georgia Bight, edited by Elizabeth J. Reitz, Irvy R. Quitmyer, and David H. Thomas. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 97: 19–36.

2011. Why this Archaeologist Cares about Geoarchaeology: Some Pasts and Futures of St. Catherines Island. In Geoarchaeology of St. Catherines Island, Georgia, edited by Gale A. Bishop, Harold B. Rollins, and DHT. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 94: 25–66.

2011. St. Catherines: An Island in Time. 2nd Edition with a New Preface. Athens: University of Georgia Press. 92 pp.

2008. Native American Landscapes of St. Catherines Island, Georgia. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum 88 (1-3): 1–1136.

Complete List of David Thomas' Publications

Teaching Experience

Faculty Appointments

  • Adjunct Professor, Columbia University (1991–present).
  • Adjunct Member, Doctoral Faculty, The Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York (1991–present).
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada,
  • Reno (1979–present).

External Links