David Killick

David Killick's picture
Professor of Anthropology






Emil W. Haury Building, Room 310E

I have taught at the University of Arizona since 1991. I was the first hire in W. David Kingery's Culture, Science and Technology Program and taught the history and sociology of technology in both Anthropology and the College of Engineering. At that time I did mostly ethnoarchaeological and archaeological research on African iron smelting technology. From 2003 to 2008 I coordinated the NSF/University of Arizona IGERT Program in Archaeological Sciences, which has so far produced 23 PhDs, with another 10 on track to graduate in 2014. I have a well-equipped laboratory in Anthropology for optical techniques (petrography, metallography, ore microscopy) and collaborate with isotope geochemist Joaquin Ruiz to use heavy isotopes (lead and strontium) for provenance of non-ferrous metals, turquoise, glass and glazes. My recent work in archaeometallurgy is on tin and bronze production in South Africa and on copper smelting in north coastal Peru. I am also doing collaborative studies of ceramic provenance by optical petrography in Botswana, New Mexico and New Caledonia. I am an Associate Editor of the Journal of Archaeological Science, and a member of the Editorial Board for Journal of African Archaeology and Ethnoarchaeology.


Ph.D. in Anthropology, Yale University
M.Phil in Anthropology, Yale University
B.A. (Honours) in Archaeology, University of Cape Town

Research Interests: 

History and prehistory of technology, with particular interest in early mining and metallurgy

African history and prehistory, especially early contacts between sub-Saharan African and the Muslim world

Provenance studies - tracing prehistoric movement of lithics, pottery, turquoise, glass and metals by geological and geochemical methods

Archaeological method and theory, with particular interest in the role of scientific methods in archaeology

Selected Publications: 

Killick, David
2014   Using evidence from the natural sciences in archaeology. In Material Evidence: Learning from Archaeological Practice, edited by Alison Wylie and Robert Chapman. London: Routledge, in press.

Bleed, Peter, Lindsay Long, Jessica Long, Madeleine Roberg and David Killick
2014    Scale armor on the North American frontier: lessons from the John G. Bourke armor.  Plains Anthropologist, in press. 

Killick, David
2014    Iron smelting technology in the Middle Senegal Valley, ca. 550 BCE-1500 CE. In Seeking the Origins of Takrur: Archaeological Excavations and Survey in the Middle Senegal Valley, edited by Roderick J. McIntosh, Susan Keech McIntosh and Hamady Bocoum, Chapter 7. New Haven: Yale University Press, in press.

Fenn, Thomas and David Killick
2014    Copper Alloys. In Seeking the Origins of Takrur: Archaeological Excavations and Survey in the Middle Senegal Valley, edited by Roderick J. McIntosh, Susan Keech McIntosh and Hamady Bocoum, Chapter 8. New Haven: Yale University Press, in press.

Martínón-Torres, Marcos and David Killick
2014    Archaeological theories and archaeological sciences. In The Oxford Handbook of Archaeological Theory, edited by Andrew Gardner, Mark Lake and Ulrike Sommer. Oxford University Press, in press.

Killick, David
2014   Archaeometallurgy as archaeology. In Archaeometallurgy in Europe III, edited by Andreas Hauptmann and Diana Modarressi-Tehrani. Bochum: Deutsches Bergbau Museum, in press.

Molofsky, Lisa, J. David Killick, Mihai N. Ducea, Monica Macovei, John T. Chesley, Joaquin Ruiz, Alyson Thibodeau, and Gheorghe C. Popescu
2014   A novel approach to lead isotope provenance studies of tin and bronze: applications to South African, Botswanan and Romanian artifacts. Journal of Archaeological Science, DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2014.08.006

Killick, David and Duncan Miller
2014   Smelting of magnetite and magnetite-ilmenite ores in the northern Lowveld, South Africa, ca. 1000 CE - ca.1880 CE.  Journal of Archaeological Science 43:239-255.

Hayashida, F.M., D.J. Killick, I. Shimada, W. Hãusler, F.E. Wagner and U. Wagner
2014   A pre-Columbian copper alloy smelting furnace: Mössbauer and XRD study of the firing conditions. Hyperfine Interactions 224:161-170.

Killick, David
2014    From ores to metals. In Archaeometallurgy in Global Perspective: Methods and Syntheses, edited by Ben Roberts and Christopher Thornton, pp. 11-46. New York: Springer.

Killick, David
2014    Cairo to Cape: the spread of metallurgy through eastern and southern Africa. In Archaeometallurgy in Global Perspective: Methods and Syntheses edited by Ben Roberts and Christopher Thornton, pp. 507-528. New York: Springer. 

Killick, David
2014   van der Merwe, Nikolaas, J. In Claire Smith (ed.) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, vol. 11, pp. 7587-7589. New York: Springer.

Courses Taught: 

ANTH/CLAS/NES/MSE 474/574      Archaeometry: scientific methods in archaeology
ANTH/AFAS 426                              African archaeology
ANTH/AFAS 329                              Introduction to African Studies        
ANTH 160A1                                    Patterns in Prehistory

Optical petrography - offered as Special Topics in Archaeology (ANTH595) on demand, or as independent study. Prerequisite is an undergraduate course in mineralogy and petrology.
Archaeometallurgy -  offered as Special Topics in Archaeology (ANTH595) on demand, or as independent study. Prerequisite is an undergraduate course in materials science.

Visitng Scholars

Dr Jang-Sik Park (Hongik University, South Korea) is on sabbatical leave in Tucson until February 2015. He has published widely on the history and prehistory of metallurgy in Korea, the Mongolian Republic and India.

Current PhD supervisees

Dana Drake Rosenstein - historical archaeology of southern Africa; single grain OSL dating of recent sites (< 500 years; with Jim Feathers, University of Washington); ceramic technology and provenance; archaeometric methods.

Ester Echenique - pre-Incan and Incan pottery technology and provenance in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.

Brunella Santarelli (Materials Science and Engineering; co-supervised with Nancy Odegaard). Brunella's dissertation research on the innovation of lead glaze on Pueblo I pottery in Colorado is supported by NSF Grant 1419233.

Former PhD students, their dissertation topics and current locations

Fumie Iizuka (2013). Early Pottery in the Tropics of Panama (4500-3200 BC): Production Processes, Circulation and Diagenesis. (Co-supervised with Michael Schiffer).  Fumie was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Geology, National University of Colombia, Medellín in 2013/14, and is currently a Lecturer in the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona.

Alyson Thibodeau (2012). Isotopic Evidence for the Provenance of Turquoise, Glaze Paints and Metals in the Southwestern USA. (PhD in Geosciences; co-supervised with Joaquin Ruiz, UA Geosciences). Aly is currently a postdoctoral fellow in geochemistry at the University of Toronto.

Thomas Fenn (2011). Applications of Heavy Isotope Research to Archaeological Problems of Provenance and Trade. (Co-supervised with Joaquin Ruiz, UA Geosciences). Tom is the Director of Scientific Research for the Council on Archaeological Studies at Yale University.

Lesley Frame (2009).Technological Change in Southwestern Asia: Metallurgical Production Styles and Social Values during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. Lesley's PhD was in Materials Science and Engineering, and was co-supervised by Pam Vandiver and myself. She was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Cardiff in 2010/11, and is currently the director of metallurgical researcch for the Thermatool Corporation, New Haven, Connecticut.

Martha Morgan (2009) Reconstructing Early Islamic Maghribi Metallurgy. Martha was an Assistant Professor in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology from 2006 to 20013.

Sarah Cowie (2008) Industrial Capitalism and the Company Town: Structural Power, Biopower and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Fayette, Michigan. Sarah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Reno.

Noah Thomas (2008) Seventeenth-Century Metallurgy on the Spanish Colonial Frontier: Transformations of Technology, Identity and Value. Noah lives in Ventura, California, marketing wind turbines and playing jazz trumpet and theramin.

Khaled al-Bashaireh (2008) Chronology and Technological Styles of Nabataean and Roman Plasters at Petra (Jordan). (Co-supervised with Greg Hodgins, AMS Radiocarbon Laboratory). Khaled is Head of the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at Yarmouk University, Jordan.

Aniko Bezur (2003). Variability in Sican Copper Alloy Artifacts: Its Relation to Material Flow Patterns During the Middle Sican Period in Peru, AD 900-1100. Aniko's PhD was in Materials Science and Engineering, and was co-supervised by William Davenport, Izumi Shimada, Nancy Odegaard and myself after the death of her original supervisor, David Kingery. Aniko is Director of Scientific Research in the Center for Conservation and Preservation, Yale University.


Studying the provenance of turquoise in the southwestern USA , and of glass trade beads and copper alloys in Africa, by lead and strontium isotopic ratio analysis. Collaboration with Alyson Thibodeau, Joaquin Ruiz, (UA Geosciences), Tom Fenn, Saul Hedquist and Chuck Adams (UA Anthropology). Supported 2009-2011 by NSF grant BCS-0852270.

Sican copper smelting (900-1100 CE) in the Pampa de Chaparri, north Peru. (Collaboration with Frances Hayashida, University of New Mexico). Supported by NSF grant BCS-0838211 to Dr. Hayashida.

Tracing the movements of Lapita colonists (1200-1000 BCE) around New Caledonia and adjacent islands through petrographic and trace element analysis of pottery. (Collaboration with Scarlett Chiu, National University of Taiwan, and Christophe Sand, IANCP, Noumea, New Caledonia).

Technology transfer and long-distance trade in the Islamic world system of the Indian Ocean, ca. 750-1500 CE, as seen from southern African peripheries. Collaboration with Simon Hall and Shadreck Chirikure (University of Cape Town), Ed Wilmsen (Edinburgh), Jim Denbow (University of Texas, Austin), Lisa Molofsky (ex-UA Geosciences), Dana Drake Rosenstein (UA Anthropology) and Tom Fenn (Yale University). Supported 2006-2008 by NSF grant BCS-0542135.

Areas of Study: 

 Sub-Saharan Africa, Southwest USA, Peru, New Caledonia