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Department of Archaeology



Academic Positions

2016-2017 Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, UCLA

2014-2017 Post-Doctoral Fellow, Institute for Society and Genetic, UCLA

2013 Graduate Fellow, NSF-IGERT for Evolutionary Modelling, University of Washington / Washington State University



2014 PhD in Anthropology, University of Washington

2007 MA in Anthropology, University of Washington

2004 MA in Field and Analytical Techniques in Archaeology, University College London

2003 MA in Archaeology, University College London

2002 BA in Archaeological Studies, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse


  • Cultural and Technological Evolution
  • Resilience and Human Eco-dynamics
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Archaeometric analysis of pottery
  • Maritime Hunter-Gatherers
  • Archaeology of North Pacific Rim / Japan

My research builds from my training in archaeology and biological anthropology to explore the evolution of cultural and technological diversity.  Currently, I am working on the development of methods to investigate the diversification of artefacts and the relationship of artefact diversity to concepts of resilience and vulnerability.  I apply this perspective to a range of past and present material culture with an emphasis on the examination of big data and networks. 

I also maintain a strong interest in the archaeology of the North Pacific Rim. This has included fieldwork in Kuril Islands of Northeast Asia and museum research at Sakhalin Regional Museum and Hokkaido University Museum. This work explores the range of behavioral strategies used by maritime hunter-gatherer to mitigate the social and environmental risk of sub-arctic environments.



Key publications: 
[1] Gjesfjeld, Erik. (in press). The Compositional Analysis of Hunter-Gatherer Pottery from the Kuril Islands. Journal of Archaeological Science: ReportsDOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.03.049
[2] Fitzhugh, Ben, Erik Gjesfjeld, William Brown, Mark Hudson and Jennie Shaw. (2016). Resilience and the Population History of the Kuril Islands, North Pacific: A study in complex human ecodynamics. Quaternary International 419, pp. 165-193. DOI:10.1016/j.quaint.2016.02.003.
[3] Gjesfjeld, Erik, Jonathan Chang, Daniele Silvestro, Christopher Kelty and Michael E. Alfaro. (2016)Competition and extinction explain the diversification of American automobiles. Palgrave Communications 2, pp. 1-6DOI: 10.1057/palcomms.2016.19
[4] Gjesfjeld, Erik. (2015). Social Network Analysis of Archaeological Data from Hunter-Gatherers: Methodological Problems and Potential Solutions.  Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 22(1), pp. 182-205. DOI:10.1007/s10816-014-9232-9
[5] Gjesfjeld, Erik and S. Colby Phillips. (2013). Evaluating Adaptive Network Strategies with Geochemical Sourcing Data: A Case Study from the Kuril Islands.  In Network Analysis in Archaeology, edited by Carl Knappett, pp. 281-305. Oxford University Press. 
Other publications: 
[1] Gjesfjeld, Erik. (2015). A Review of Methodological Issues for Characterisation and Provenance Studies Of Obsidian in Northeast Asia.  A. Ono, M.D. Glascock, Y.V Kuzmin and Y. Suda (Eds.) Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology , pp. 1-3.  DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2014.1001926
[2] Fitzhugh, Ben, S. Colby Phillips and Erik Gjesfjeld.  (2011). Modeling Hunter-Gatherer Information Networks: An Archaeological Case Study from the Kuril Islands. In Information and Its Role in Hunter-Gatherer Bands, edited by Robert Whallon, William A. Lovis and Robert K. Hitchcock, pp. 85-115.  Ideas, Debates, and Perspectives 5, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press: Los Angeles.
[3] Gjesfjeld, Erik. (2010). Analysis of Ceramics from the Central and Northern Kuril Islands.  In Proceedings of the scientific conference in honor of the 85th anniversary of N.N. Dikov and the 50th anniversary of NEISRI FEB RAS, edited by A. Lebedintsev, pp. 138-141.  Russian Academy of Sciences, Far East Branch, North-East Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute: Magadan. [In Russian] 

Teaching and Supervisions


I am involved in the teaching of the following courses:

  • A11 Data to Interpretation
  • B12 Culture Evolves

Other Professional Activities

Research Associate of Fitzwilliam College

Job Titles

Renfrew Fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Research Fellow, Fitzwilliam College
Director of Studies, Fitzwilliam College

General Info

Not available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Human Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology
Human Evolution
Artefact Analysis & Technology
Archaeological Theory
Computational and Quantitative Archaeology
Cultural Evolution
Environmental Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, and Landscape studies

Contact Details

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Downing Street


Archaeological Science
Biological Anthropology
Science, Technology and Innovation
Human Evolutionary Studies
Geographical areas: 
East Asia
Periods of interest: 
Other Late Prehistory
Other Prehistory