I am the John E. Hudson Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University. I hold an A.B. from the University of Chicago and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.
At Harvard I have served as the Archaeology Program Director, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Department Chair for the Department of Anthropology and the Chair of the Standing Committe on Archaeology, and am an affiliated faculty member of the Inner Asian and Altaic Studies Department. I am a Board Member of the Institute for Field Research and the Esherick-Ye Family Foundation.
My research is focused on the emergence and development of complex society during the late Neolithic period and the Bronze Age in China. This work incorporates interests in diachronic change in production processes and technology, the intersection between ritual activity and production, the role of animals in early Chinese society - particularly their use in sacrifice and divination, and the processes involved in social change in general. I have conducted excavations at a salt production site in the eastern Sichuan Basin, regional archaeological survey in the Chengdu region focusing on prehistoric settlement patterns and social evolution, and currently direct an international collaborative survey and excavation project in the Tao River Valleu in Gansu. This project focuses on technological change in various domains and investigates the formation processes of community interaction involved in the development of the Proto-Silk Road. Current research and writing projects focus on several aspects of social complexity including: specialized production and technology, the anthropology of value, mortuary analysis, archaeological landscapes, interregional interaction, cultural transmission, and animal and plant domestication.