Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer




My work is underpinned by the desire to understand the relationship between long-term human history and the lived experiences of individuals and communities. The major impacts of my research have been in understanding the nature of organizational complexity and diversity in Pre-Columbian Eastern North America using multi-scalar approaches to interrogate the recursive interactions between structure and agency, institutions and individuals. My recent research has focused on developing high-precision radiocarbon chronologies of Northern Iroquoia to advance and apply archaeological theories of processes by which discrete populations realign into chiefdoms and confederacies. 


I have a joint appointment in Anthropology and Geography and direct the Quaternary Isotope Paleoecology Lab. My research is focused on human adaptation and resilience to climate change and natural resource unpredictability in prehistory, and how our understanding of past human response to environmental change informs current thinking about these issues. I combine archaeology and biogeochemistry to investigate changes in diet, mobility, and settlement systems in the period spanning the end of the last ice age to the arrival of farming. 

My other research interests include the initial domestication of livestock, diffusion of domesticates across Eurasia, the transition from hunting to herding, seasonality and human mobility, multispecies archaeology, and advancing methodologies in zooarchaeology and stable isotope analysis. I am an active advocate of open access publishing and online data and research sharing. I co-founded and moderate the blog TrowelBlazers, which highlights women in the fields of archaeology, paleontology, and geology. I am also an editor-in-chief of the open access journal for Quaternary science, Open Quaternary.

My research focuses in part on the application of geoarchaeological methods to the study Early and Middle Holocene human occupation, cultural adaptations and climate change. In our research on the continental shelves of the American Southeast we have sought to discriminate between ecological variables and culturally-based decisions for detecting the spatial and temporal variation in site locations. We have also AMS radiocarbon techniques and ZooMS to study climate-related dispersal and extinction of Atlantic gray whale in the late Pleistocene and the late Holocene to advance a pan-ocean understanding of this species. 

I am interested in how humans manipulate and shape the landscapes they inhabit and in particular temperate, mountain systems. My collaborative research efforts draw on geoarchaeological, biophysical, and socioecological factors to examine human causality and environmental resilience and demonstrate their relationship with the sustainability of mountain landscapes of the western Pyrenees over medium to long time intervals. We aim to understand complex processes or the contingency and behavioral variability of human agents in transforming a landscape. With further collaboration, we derived a chronostratigraphic framework in the Tarn River of southern France to better understand human-environment interaction histories and outcomes. The goal of our research is to connect the present continuously and strongly to the past so we may contribute to building a more desirable and sustainable future.  

My multi-scalar and multi-disciplinary research explores long-term social, cultural, and ecological dynamics during prehistory, with a specific focus on the transformative role of population aggregation and disintegration in early farming societies of Southeast Europe. This research is complemented by my interest in comparative, cross-cultural and cross-temporal studies of population centers and both bodies of research aim to contribute to developing models that advance the scientific understanding of sustainability and resilience in nucleated settlement contexts in the ancient and recent past. I am also engaged with collaborative heritage science programs, including conservation studies of archaeological sites and various exhibition projects, to facilitate cultural heritage protection and foster public outreach and education.

“Anthropology is the essential field.” Kowalewski was raised in rural Lancaster County, PA. First field school in Utah, 1967, and first fieldwork in Oaxaca, 1970. Assistant professor at Lehman and Hunter, CUNY, 1975-1977. Has lived in Athens since 1978. Major field projects in Oaxaca in 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1990, 1999, 2008, 2009, 2011, funded by NSF, NGS, SSRC, SSHRC, Harp Foundation.

I use dendrochronology, wood anatomy, tree-ring stable isotopes, and wider archaeobotanical methods to investigate human-environment interactions and their long-term impact legacies during the Anthropocene. My recent studies focus on the challenge to articulate a high-resolution chronology appropriate and comparable with the lived histories of the Indigenous village settlements in Northeast North America. I study how humans have used timber resources and shaped forest ecosystems over time, with a particular interest in high precision dating to better understand environmental factors and socioeconomic networks in southeastern Europe 

Support Anthropology at UGA

Your support helps bring in speakers of note, provides student research funding, assists in student fieldwork and conference travel, and creates new resources to further enrich each learner's experience. Learn more about how you can support the Department of Anthropology.

Every dollar given has a direct impact upon our students and faculty.