Adam Watson

Research Associate



  • University of Virginia, Ph.D., 2012
  • University of Virginia, M.A., 2007
  • Cornell University, B.A., 2000

Research Interests

Dr. Adam Watson’s research explores human ecology and social organization among transegalitarian societies of pre-Columbian North America.

Specializing in zooarchaeology and GIS, Watson has led numerous archaeological excavations and surveys in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico (a US National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site) and works extensively with museum collections.

His other ongoing research in the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) region of what is now upstate New York investigates changing subsistence and economy among Seneca communities during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Watson’s work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Richard Gilder Graduate School & American Museum of Natural History, the American Philosophical Society, and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.


2017 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.

2017 Douglas J. Kennett, Stephen Plog, Richard J. George, Brendan J. Culleton, Adam S. Watson, Pontus Skoglund, Nadin Rohland, Swapan Mallick, Kristin Stewardson, Logan Kistler, Steven A. LeBlanc, Peter M. Whiteley, David Reich & George H. Perry. Archaeogenomic Evidence Reveals Prehistoric Matrilineal Dynasty. Nature Communications 8:14115.

2016 Kenneth Barnett Tankersley, Nicholas P. Dunning, Jessica Thress, Lewis A. Owen, Warren D. Huff, Samantha G. Fladd, Katelyn J. Bishop, Stephen Plog, Adam S. Watson, Christopher Carr, Vernon L. Scarborough. Evaluating soil salinity and water management in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 9:94-104.

2016 Adam S. Watson. Long-distance wood procurement and the Chaco florescence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(5):1118-1120.

2016 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 4(2):024002.

2016 W. James Stemp, Adam Watson, and Adrian A. Evans. Surface analysis of stone and bone tools. Surface Topography: Metrology and Properties 4(1):1-25.

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.