I’m an anthropological bioarchaeologist interested in examining how prehistoric states, empires, religions and other institutions structured health inequality and differential access to food. My former career as an Assistant District Attorney in North Carolina exposed me to the biosocial consequences of the practices of bureaucratic institutions like the justice system, which have profound effects on poverty, violence, and disease levels in communities. My dissertation research project investigates the health consequences of imperial policies; specifically, whether the spread of the Wari Empire across the southern Peruvian Andes (circa 600-1100 AD) affected social hierarchies, violent behaviors, and nutritional and developmental health in subordinate communities.
I enjoy working at the intersection of bioarchaeological and GIS-based analytical methods. I’m interested in documenting how ancient empires structured or hindered opportunities for social advancement, which might be demonstrated by changes in nutrition, food consumption, and exposure to violence throughout the course of an individual’s life*. I’m also interested in examining spatiotemporal variability in these indices, and creating GIS-based spatial paleopathological models to explore relationships between environmental and social factors underlying disease experiences. My other research interests include cultural property law and archaeological ethics, including the ethics of studying human remains in countries without NAGPRA-like protections, and the use of human bodies to legitimate political and religious power.
*Of course, environmental factors can also structure changes in diet and exposure to disease during life.
During the course of our excavation, project members will be posting photos of finds. You are welcome to use them for teaching purposes with attribution (Koontz for PAU, unless otherwise noted).