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Victor Thompson

UGA Arch
Distinguished Research Professor
Director, Georgia Museum of Natural History
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

I study significant transitions in human history, specializing in the application of archaeological science to the study of collective social formations and the historical ecology of wetland and coastal environments. In the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts, my recent research focuses on socioecological histories and zooarchaeological indicators to achieve high resolution, localized histories of human-climate dynamics. More broadly, my work centers on the nature of Indigenous governance by addressing cases that demonstrate the variability in the forms that democratic institutions might take. I am also engaged with NAGPRA (Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, to make sure that ancestors cared for by UGA are treated respectfully and repatriated to their descendent communities. 


If you are interested in joining our program as one of my PhD students, I encourage you to have a clear idea of the larger anthropological questions you aim to address through archaeology. Having an idea about this is critical towards a pathway to completion of the program here. At the Laboratory of Archaeology, we engage with a number of cutting-edge methods and techniques. Students often develop specialties in these. However, the goal of our methods is to reveal knowledge. That’s why having a larger question in mind at the outset of your graduate career is critical. My current students engage in a wide variety of topics, geographic regions, and theoretical perspectives, from human dynamics to the study of governance in the past. The Laboratory also takes great care to connect with descendent communities whose ancestral lands we work on and study. In some cases, like the Enfulletv-Mocvse (Muskogee for “new ways”) in Archaeology of Field School , we work in the field together instructing students and gaining knowledge. If you are interested and possess good writing skills, the ability to see projects through to completion, and a desire to learn about the past in a structured graduate program, please contact me and provide the following: a CV and a short description (no more than 500 words) of your interests in anthropological archaeology.  


Research Interests:
  • Collective action 
  • Indigenous governance   
  • Historical ecology 
  • Native American Archaeology
  • Radiocarbon dating 
  • Shell midden archaeology 
  • Stable oxygen isotopes 
  • Remote sensing 
  • Geographic Information Systems 
  • Southeastern Archaeology
Selected Publications:

Thompson, Victor D. (2022) Considering Ideas of Collective Action, Institutions, and “Hunter-gatherers” in the American Southeast. Journal of Archaeological Research. (in press)

Thompson, Victor D., Jake Lulewicz, RaeLynn Butler, Turner Hunt, LeeAnne Wendt, James Wettstaed, Mark Williams, Richard Jefferies, Suzanne K. Fish (2022) The Early Materialization of Democratic Institutions among the Ancestral Muskogean of the American Southeast. American Antiquity. 1-20. doi:10.1017/aaq.2022.31.

Thompson Victor D., Torben Rick, Carey J. Garland, Karen Y. Smith, David Hurst Thomas, Matt Sanger, Bryan Tucker, Isabelle Lulewicz, Anna M. Semon, John Schalles, Christine Hladik, Clark Alexander, Brandon T. Ritchison (2020) Ecosystem Stability and Native American Oyster Harvesting along the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Science Advances 6:eaba9652


2022       $20,700. University of Georgia, Faculty Research Grants Program for the project: The Timing of Community at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park. (Turner Hunt, Raelynn Butler, LeeAnn Wendt, Jennifer Birch co-P.I.s). 

2022       $90,183. Integrating Oaxaca Survey Data to Improve Models of State and Urban Origins. National Science Foundation, Victor D. Thompson (P.I.), Stephen Kowalewski (co-P.I.), Richard Blanton, (co-P.I.), Gary Feinman (co-P.I.), Linda Nicholas (co-P.I.).

2021       $78,694. NAGPRA Consultation Grant, Evaluating UGA’s Existing Holdings. National Park Service. Victor Thompson (P.I.), co-P.I. Amanda Roberts Thompson.


PhD, Anthropology, University of Kentucky, 2006

Articles Featuring Victor Thompson

Anthropology students at the University of Georgia recently presented their research at the annual CURO Symposium, organized by the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities. Given the opportunity to communicate their own research to our broader community…

Stemming from the collaboration between faculty, researchers, and current and former graduate students at the Department of Anthropology, a newly published article sheds light on the importance of radiocarbon dating in the American Southeast, emphasizing…

Loscos, Spain. Drs. Ted Gragson and Victor Thompson, Ph.D. candidates Brett Parbus and Faith McDonald from the University of Georgia in collaboration with Ph.D. candidate Lydia Allué Andrés from the Université Toulouse 2 (France) and Universidad de Zaragoza (…

UGA Anthropology alumni, Dr. Brandon Ritchison (PhD ‘19), current postdoc, Dr. Carey Garland (PhD ‘19), and Professor & Lab of Archaeology Director, Dr. Victor Thompson, along with Dr.

UGA Research spotlights the Lab of Archaeology in their recent article titled, "Keepers of history: UGA’s Archaeology Lab preserves relics of Georgia’s past." This feature highlights the lab's vast array of artifacts, their ability to transition during the…

Dr. Victor Thompson, Dr. Brandon Ritchison (PhD '19), and PhD candidate, Isabelle Holland Lulewicz, along with Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Bryan Tucker and US National Park Service's John A Turck recently had their article, "Climate change,…

UGA Research article, "A million little rings: Using dendrochronology to explore the ancient environment" features PhD student, Kat Napora. The article takes a deeper look into Kat's dendrochronology research and what inspired her to study trees.

UGA Laboratory of Archaeology's Dr.

Several faculty members and an alumnus were featured in UGA's fall issue of Georgia Magazine.

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