Interim Director and Curator Eastern North American Archaeology; Professor, Department of Anthropology
3010 School of Education
hours: Tuesdays 1:30-2:00pm, Wednesdays 1:00-2:00pm, or by appointment via email
Robin Beck is an professor in the Department of Anthropology and curator of Eastern North American Archaeology in the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology. His research interests include the archaeology and ethnohistory of complex societies in eastern North America and the Andes of Bolivia and Peru, early colonial encounters in what is now the southern United States, and the broader issues related to social organization and change.
Rob received his Ph.D in Anthropology from Northwestern University in 2004. For his dissertation work, he excavated a Middle Formative (800-400 BC) ritual platform at the site of Alto Pukara, located in Bolivia's Lake Titicaca Basin at an altitude of 3800 m. His research at Alto Pukara used Lévi-Strauss’ concept of the social house to understand transformations in public space during the Formative Period. Since 2001, concurrent with his Andean work, Rob has co-directed the Exploring Joara Project, which focuses on the archaeology and early colonial history of Native American societies in the North Carolina Piedmont. Rob and his collegues have directed NSF-supported research along the Catawba River at the Berry site, location of the native town of Joara and the Spanish garrison Fort San Juan, built by the Juan Pardo expedition in 1567. Manned by thirty soldiers for eighteen months, this fort is the earliest European settlement in the interior of what is now the United States. Its excavation is shedding new light on the process and practice of colonialism near the very beginning of the colonial era.
- colonialism and colonial encounters
- origins of complex societies
- theories of social change
- structure and event
- Museum of Anthropological Archaeology
- 2019, Field Discovery Award. Fourth Biennial Shanghai Archaeology Forum. One of ten archaeology field projects selected from an international pool of 116 nominees.
- 2017, Henry Russel Award, University of Michigan, for exceptional research and distinction in teaching (one of four university-wide awards)
- 2006 C B Moore Award for Excellence in Archaeology by a Young Scholar in Southeastern Studies. Presented by the Southeastern Archaeological Conference and the Lower Mississippi Valley Survey, Harvard University.
- Book: 2013, Chiefdoms, Collapse, and Coalescence in the Early American South. Cambridge University Press.
- Article: 2020, Encountering Novelty: Object, Assemblage, and Mixed Material Culture. Current Anthropology 61(5).
- Article: 2016, The Iron in the Posthole: Witchcraft, Women's Labor, and Spanish Folk Ritual at the Berry Site. American Anthropologist 118(3).