Staff Profiles

David Hurst Thomas

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

Curriculum Vitae (short version)
  • Education

      • 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

    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.

  • Publications

  • Teaching Experience

    Teaching Experience