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About Daniel A. Contreras

I am an anthropological archaeologist interested in human-environment interactions in the past, particularly anthropogenic and geomorphic components of dynamic landscapes and environmental change. My research currently includes projects in Peru, Mexico, Jordan, and Greece, where I examine landscape change and its relationship to long-term human occupation.
In the Peruvian Central Andes, I co-direct the Proyecto Arqueológico Caracha Alto (PACA) [], and I continue to investigate modified landscapes at the site of Chavín de Huántar, where I conducted my Ph.D research. That work focused on landscape modification and environmental risk during the centuries of Chavín's existence (roughly 1000-500 BCE), and was built on archaeological and geomorphic survey as well as archaeological excavation and the integration and analysis of the resulting data in a GIS. My continued research at Chavín focuses on using landscape geoarchaeology to link landscape change and human activity by examining anthropogenic landscape changes and local paleoenvironmental proxies and improving cultural and environmental chronologies.
Similar exploration of links between environmental and cultural change guides my research in the Wadi al-Hasa in Jordan, where I am the project geoarchaeologist for the el-Hemmeh Excavation Project []. My research there maps fragmented paleosurfaces in order to reconstruct Early Holocene landscapes, model early experiments with cultivation and domestication, and assess human landscape impacts in the early Neolithic.
The history of exploitation and management of natural resources is another important avenue of investigation into past human-environment interactions. In Southern Ayacucho, Peru, PACA focuses on the prehispanic exploitation of the Quispisisa obsidian source and the associated long-term human occupation of the region. The Upper Caracha drainage, on which the project focuses, preserves a long-term record of human occupation of a high-altitude valley in the Peruvian Central Andes. This provides an important opportunity to investigate the ways in which demographic and political changes affected the exploitation of natural resources in the prehispanic Central Andes.
I also to examine obsidian exploitation at Anatolian and Aegean obsidian sources as the project geoarchaeologist for the McMaster Obsidian Procurement Expedition []. This project, like that in the Central Andes, is linked to investigation into the mode, tempo, and implication of regional-scale circulation of obsidian. This focus on lithic sources has expanded to include work at the chert quarry of Stélida on Naxos as well [].
An additional recent project [] was aimed at developing methods for quantifying the damage done by looting of archaeological sites, with test cases in Jordan and Peru.
I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the AMENOPHYS Project (Adaptation of Mediterranean Economies of the Past to Hydroclimatic Changes) at Aix-Marseille Université. I received my Ph.D in September 2007, as student of Professor John Rick at Stanford University, in the Department of Anthropological Sciences and affiliated also with the Archaeology Center. After teaching in the Archaeology Center, the Anthropology Department, and the Center for Latin American Studies and serving as a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Introduction to the Humanities program at Stanford I took up a Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute for Ecosystem Research [] at CAU Kiel, and subsequently moved to AMU in order to pursue my interdisciplinary interests in human-environment interactions.


Present Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Aix-Marseille

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

human-environment interactions, digital methods and archaeology; GIS and archaeology; geoarchaeology

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  • GIS in Anthropological Research
  • Digital Methods in Archaeology
  • Past Human Environments
  • Introduction to Peruvian Prehistory
  • World Archaeology and Global Heritage

Contact Information

Adaptation of Mediterranean Economies of the Past to Hydroclimatic Changes (AMENOPHYS)
Aix-Marseille Université
UMR CNRS 7263 / IRD 237 / UAPV, Bâtiment Villemin, Europole de l'Arbois - BP 80
F-13545 Aix-en-Provence cedex 04, France


Articles (23)

Books (1)

Recent Works (1)