Current Projects

American Southwest

Marit Munson is at present working on the The Galisteo Rock Art Project (GalRA). It is a long-term research program focused on rock art of the Galisteo Basin, located in New Mexico just south of Santa Fe. The primary goal of the project is to explore how changing religious beliefs and practices related to ancient Pueblo social organization from AD 1150 to 1680. Recent field work has focused on improving the existing chronology for Galisteo rock art; work currently under way combines field data with photographs and other archival resources to examine changes in the spatial context and iconography of rock art from the Coalition (AD 1150-1325) and Classic periods (AD 1325-1550).


Helen R. Haines directs the Ka’Kabish Archaeological Research Project (KARP), a SSHRC supported project in North-Central Belize. Ka’Kabish, a moderate-size Maya centre spans 2000 years of Maya history. Occupation at the site started in the Middle Formative Period (ca. 600-800 BC) and lasted into the Early Post-Classic period (AD 900 – 1100) making the site a contemporary of the larger centre of Lamanai located only 10 km to the east. This project explores the possible existence of political and economic heterarchies within the ancient Maya polities of the Northern Belize Coastal Plain. Previous SSHRC sponsored work at the site documented the existence of multiple elite tombs, a ritually preserved (and now partially looted) corbel vaulted structure, and two ball courts.

Paul F. Healy is completing a multi-year research project on the Preclassic (1500 BC-AD 250) lowland Maya, with extensive excavations completed at the sites of Pacbitun and Cahal Pech in the Belize Valley. The investigations, sponsored by SSHRC, are now in the publication stage, exploring questions about the rise, and timing, of social inequality, the first appearance of long-distance trade, monumental architecture, political and technological complexity, settlement hierarchy, and the underlying causes for the cultural evolution which led, ultimately, to Classic Maya civilization (AD 250-900).

British Isles and Isle of Man

Leigh Symonds' research is based in the early medieval period in the North Atlantic. Religious conversion from paganism to Christianity and the consolidation of geo-polities into nation states were at the foundation of many of the social changes which occurred during early medieval period. She is interested in how these major developments influenced and were influenced by early medieval personhood, identity and gender. Her research focuses on how these issues manifested themselves in material social practices and spatial understandings. She is currently applying for funding for two projects. The first project aims to perform oxygen-isotope analysis on the tenth century skeletal material from the Isle of Man. The second project involves a multi-year landscape survey and targeted excavation of an early medieval settlement and its locale, also on the Isle of Man.


Anne Keenleyside is investigating the health and diet of the population of Apollonia, a Greek colonial site (5th to 3rd centuries BC) on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. The skeletal remains of over 400 individuals excavated from the site have been the focus of palaeodemographic and palaeopathological studies, and recent research is focusing on the reconstruction of diet using stable isotope analysis of skeletal and dental remains. Long-term goals include examining the geographic origins and migration patterns of the colonists, and comparing the biological adapations of Greek colonists on the Black Sea coast with those in other regions of the ancient world.

Canada - Ontario

Jennifer Birch is conducting research on settlement aggregation among late precontact Iroquoian communities in south-central Ontario. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries A.D. multiple small Iroquoian village-communities came together into large towns. A suite of cultural changes accompanied this shift in settlement strategy. Dr. Birch’s research investigates how small-scale changes in practice within communities relate to larger-scale processes of geopolitical transformation, including the formation of Iroquoian nations and confederacies In addition to her work in Ontario, she has two ongoing field projects in the Southeastern United States. The first is aimed at exploring the Late Woodland to Mississippian transition in Northern Georgia (ca. AD 800-1200) and the second is investigating the occupational history of the Singer-Moye site, a large multi-mound Mississippian center in the Lower Chattahoochee Valley.

James Conolly will receive a total of $70,650 in SSHRC-sponsored funding over two years for his research on “Mid-Holocene Human Ecology in the Trent Valley, Ontario”. This pilot project aims to develop our understanding of human ecology (mobility and settlement structure, subsistence practices, and technological organization) during the mid-Holocene period in central Ontario from the analysis of floral, faunal and lithic remains from a recently defined archaeological site that is 4500 years old on Pigeon Lake in Peterborough County. The focus of the project is on integrating people, technology, landscapes and food practices into their socio-ecological setting.

William Fox is currently involved in field work directed to the creation of a comprehensive Ontario lithic reference collection for the archaeology program at Trent. While geological prospection for cherts is the focus, additional materials related to ornamental and ground stone artefact production are being investigated. The latter relates to ongoing research with a consortium of U.S. researchers concerning the long distance distribution of certain lithic materials and artifacts by Native groups during the 15th to 18th centuries. Research on the 17th century Neutral Iroquoian Lake Medad site is nearing completion, in preparation for a comprehensive publication on this famous village and cemetery which is now covered by a golf course. Other publication activities include work with a multi-national team to produce a final report on the Killarney Bay 1 and Speigle sites for a University of Michigan, Museum of Anthropology Memoir; co-editing an Ontario Archaeology volume devoted to northeastern Ontario research, and co-editing a Mercury Series volume on Petun research authored by Charles Garrad.

Robert MacDonald is a Partner and Senior Archaeologist with the consulting firm Archaeological Services Inc., where he manages the archaeological and built-heritage components of large-scale and complex environmental assessment projects throughout Ontario. A specialist in environmental archaeology and paleo-environmental reconstruction, his current projects include archaeological assessments of the next 70 kilometre phase of Highway 407 and a 430 kilometre hydro-electric transmission corridor in north-western Ontario. He also develops GIS-based archaeological potential models for large-scale land-use planning studies, currently including an archaeological master plan for the City of Toronto.

Central Asia

Michael Gregg is an anthropological archaeologist with specializations in Old World prehistory and stable isotope geochemistry. Michael’s research in northern Iran and southern Turkmenistan is focused on the emergence of pottery and herding of sheep and goats between 11,000 – 7500 BC in a narrow geographic corridor linking the Middle East with Central Asia. Michael’s immediate objectives are to develop a high-resolution radiocarbon chronology for the transition from hunting and gathering to food production in the plains and valleys south and east of the Caspian Sea, and to place molecular and isotopic evidence of the first uses of pottery in this region in context of the intensive exploitation of marine and land resources by different human groups at the end of the Pleistocene.


Sally Stewart is co-director of two archaeological survey and excavation projects in Cyprus, the Idalion Survey Project (ISP) and Elaborating Early Neolithic Cyprus (EENC). Both projects focus on the archaeological evidence from a hitherto unknown period in Cypriot prehistory, the recently identified Cypro-PPNA period ca. 9,000-8,500 BC. This period is crucial not only for filling this gap in Cypriot prehistory, but in understanding the transition between hunter-gatherer and farming economies. Her research focuses specifically on the relationships between stone raw material sources and artefact scatters and how these can be used to demonstrate how early settlers to the island mapped new landscapes and key resources. She received a SSHRC grant to undertake the geo-chemical analyses of the lithic finds from these projects. She currently holds a SSHRC insight grant (with Ted Banning, University of Toronto) to investigate archaeological survey methodology and the Neolithic of the Levant .


Ian Begg has begun a formal collaboration with Italian colleagues in Padua and Venice on researching and publishing the papers of the late Gilbert Bagnani and his colleague Carlo Anti. From 1930 until 1936 the two archaeologists excavated the Graeco-Roman sanctuary at Tebtunis in the Fayyum basin of Egypt but, apart from a few preliminary reports, never published their findings. The archives are scattered between Trent and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Canada and the University of Padua and the Istituto Veneto in Italy. As a start, several co-authored papers have been and are being presented at conferences in the US and Italy, and published as articles in Italy. Prof. Gilbert Bagnani used to teach in the Department of Classics at Trent. 


Eugène Morin directs a SSHRC-funded project in France, the goal of which is to document human behavioural complexity iduring the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition (45,000-30,000 years ago). Data relating to ecology, subsistence strategies, and material culture is being collected in order to assess presumed differences in behaviour and cognition between Neandertals and early modern humans.


Ian Begg is Director (with Michael Nelson of Queen’s College, New York City) of the Leukos Survey Project on Karpathos. This Canadian survey was the first foreign project ever approved by the Greek Government in the Dodecanese. First described in detail by Gilbert Bagnani in 1923, the Early Byzantine harbour at Leukos is threatened by sea-side development. Our survey has discovered the remains of many enormous cisterns on top of the off-shore islet of Sokastro, possibly relating to naval needs of the Middle Byzantine period. Results of the harbour survey have just appeared in the 2015 Annual of the British School at Athens and the data-bases from Sokastro are still being analyzed in preparation for publication.

Rodney Fitzsimons is director (with Evi Gorogianni of the University of Akron) of the Ayia Irini Northern Sector Archaeological Project, which seeks to explore the dynamic nature of the socio-political and economic landscape of the Late Bronze Age Aegean. This project has three primary goals: to study and publish the artefactual deposits and architectural remains from the Northern Sector at Ayia Irini, Kea; to re-evaluate current models of acculturation during the late Middle and early Late Bronze Ages; and to explore the impact of and reaction to these broader, regional developments on the intra-site level. Fitzsimons is the site architect for the Azoria Project, whose primary goal is to analyse the social, political, economic and religious factors that govern the processes of state formation and urbanisation in Early Iron Age and Archaic Greece.


John R. Topic's current research project involves the study of the sacred landscape associated with the cult of Catequil, an oracle with his main sanctuary in the northern highlands of Peru. Archaeological sites associated with the sanctuary in Peru as well as sites in Ecuador, where the cult was introduced by the Inca, and documentary sources are being investigated. The project is currently at the stage of final artifact analysis.

South and Southeast Asia

Gyles Iannone has secured SSHRC (Insight Development Grant) to conduct a pilot study aimed at evaluating the quality of various data sets relevant to elucidating the reasons for the “collapse” of a number of tropical state formations throughout South and Southeast Asia in the latter part of the “Charter Era” (CE 800-1400). The insights generated through the proposed investigations will ultimately be leveraged to craft a Partnership Grant to support an international, transdisciplinary research team whose primary objective will be to mobilize knowledge concerning socio-ecological issues in the world’s tropical zones, past and present. Such issues include, but are not limited to: population growth, increasing disease rates (e.g., malaria and dengue), growing poverty, deforestation, expansion of agricultural production and monocropping, diminishing biodiversity, food and water security, and the effects of climate change. Archaeologists have a significant role to play in this important research endeavor because the many issues that are impacting contemporary tropical societies are historically contingent. Some of them may have even emerged with the earliest examples of state formation. We therefore require a comprehensive understanding of their root causes if effective mitigation strategies are to be developed. The research will be carried out in South India, Sri Lanka, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, North and Central Vietnam, and Central and East Java. Comparisons will also be made with the Maya.


Hugh Elton has directed archaeological surveys in the upper Göksu River valley in southern Turkey and at Avkat in central Turkey. Both projects are now in the process of publication. The aims of these projects are to document changes ins settlement patterns, communication and land use over time in remote areas with a particular focus on the impact of the Roman and Byzantine empires on the local populations.