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David R. Abbott
Ph.D., Arizona State University
Associate Professor

SHESC Themes:Societies and Their Natural Environments

Field specializations: archaeology, ceramic technology, agrarian societies, cultural ecology, exchange and social networks

Regional focus: North America (Southwest)


About Research
Since completing my doctoral studies in 1994, I have designed and conducted a long-term research program focused on the ancient pottery of central and southern Arizona. My work is dedicated to modeling the exchange and social networks that composed the prehistoric Hohokam regional system, investigating the impact of large-scale irrigation on sociocultural evolution, and developing the unique contribution that ceramic research can make to the study of prehistoric communities. This work has depended on multi-disciplinary teams of graduate student assistants, private-sector archaeologists, geologists, and chemists.

I joined the ASU faculty in August 2004 following 10 years as an independent consultant and a Research Associate at the Arizona State Museum. Before coming to Tempe, I partnered with various archaeological companies engaged in federally and state-mandated excavation projects spurred by modern development in the Phoenix metropolitan area. During that time, I was the Principal Investigator on three multi-year research grants from NSF and Southwest Parks and Monuments Association.

By combining those efforts under one research umbrella, and with the assistance of physical scientists for compositional analyses of the pottery, I have developed precise, efficient, and inexpensive methods to pinpoint ceramic production sources and trace the distribution of earthenware containers within the Phoenix basin. This new methodology has demonstrated: a remarkably sophisticated division of labor for pottery production during prehistoric times; a regional-scale economy that was more complex than previously imagined; and—possibly—sufficient trade in irrigation-produced surpluses to power the regional economy. These findings have led to new and markedly different conceptions of Hohokam economics, community organization, and the evolution of Hohokam society.

While at ASU, I have established the Laboratory of Sonoran Ceramic Research, where I am continuing to pursue my long-term research program. My lab employs two half-time graduate student research assistants funded through contracts from two private-sector archaeological companies. Several additional contracts are currently being negotiated. I am also contributing my expertise in the prehistory of the Sonoran Desert to the production of research proposals by two multi-disciplinary research teams at ASU. These efforts are devoted to providing a deep-time perspective for understanding the intertwined socioecological processes of differing duration, intensity, and geographic scope that determine the legacies of human and environmental relations in south-central Arizona.

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About Teaching
I am presently developing a new course on research methods in archaeology for the Spring term. This course will directly involve advanced undergraduates in my laboratorys on-going research and will provide the students with hands-on experience in all stages of the research process. I have also been asked to sit on two Anthropology doctoral committees, assist in the doctoral research of a student in Life Sciences, and serve as the Director of a Senior Honors Thesis committee. In the future, I anticipate developing undergraduate and graduate classes pertaining to quantitative methods in anthropology, ceramics, and Hohokam archaeology.

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Select Publications
Abbott, David R. (2000)
Ceramics and Community Organization Among the Hohokam. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Abbott, David R. (2002)
Ceramic Markers of Ancient Irrigation Communities. In Intersections: Pathways Through Time, compiled by Brenda L. Shears, Glen E. Rice, Peggy Lindauer, Harue Yoshida. Anthropological Field Studies No. 44. Arizona State University, Tempe

Abbott, David R., ed. ( 2001)
The Grewe Archaeological Research Project, Volume 2: Material Culture, Part 1: Ceramic Studies. Anthropological Papers No. 99-1. Northland Research, Tempe.

Abbott, David R., ed. (2003)
Centuries of Decline during the Hohokam Classic Period at Pueblo Grande. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Abbott, David R., and Mary-Ellen Walsh-Anduze (1995).
Temporal Patterns Without Temporal Variation: The Paradox of Hohokam Red Ware Ceramics. In Ceramic Production in the American Southwest, edited by Barbara J. Mills and Patricia L. Crown, pp. 88-114. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Abbott, David R., Susan L. Stinson, and Scott Van Keuren (2001)
The Economic Implications of Hohokam Buff Ware Exchange during the Early Sedentary Period. Kiva 67:7-29.

Abbott, David R., and David M. Schaller (1994)
Ceramics Among the Hohokam: Modeling Social Organization and Exchange. In Archaeometry of Pre-Columbian Sites and Artifacts, edited by David A. Scott and Pieter Meyers, pp. 85-109. Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles.

Elson, Mark D., and David R. Abbott (2000)
Organizational Variability in Platform Mound-Building Groups of the American Southwest. In Alternative Leadership Strategies in the Prehispanic Southwest, edited by Barbara J. Mills, pp. 117-135. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Van Keuren, Scott, Susan L. Stinson, and David R. Abbott (1997)
Specialized Production of Hohokam Plain Ware Ceramics in the Lower Salt River Valley. Kiva 63:155-175.

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Select Museum Exhibits
Abbott, David R., Elizabeth J. Miksa, and Russell Varineau (1999-02)
Pottery PathwaysHohokam Lifeways. Traveling Exhibit: Casa Grande Ruins N.M.; Saguaro N.P.; Organ Pipe Cactus N.M.; Wupatki N.M.; Tuzigoot N.M.; Third Conference on Research and Resource Management in Southern Arizona National Park Areas, Tucson; 2000 Archaeology Expo, Arizona State Museum; National Park Service Cultural Resources 2000 Conference, Santa Fe; 2002 Southwest Symposium, Tucson.

Curriculum Vitae: Download PDF

Contact: David R. Abbott