James Watson

Professor, Anthropology
Associate Curator, Bioarchaeology (ASM)

Arizona State Museum, Room 215-N

About James Watson

My research examines health and disease in prehistoric populations through their skeletal remains. I am specifically interested in understanding prehistoric human adaptations in desert ecosystems and the role local resources play in the adoption of agriculture and their impact on health. Current projects involve the excavation and analysis of the earliest farmers in the Sonoran Desert, incipient agriculturalists in the Atacama Desert, and the earliest foragers in the Peruvian highlands.

Selected Publications

2021 Mountain, Rebecca V., Cait B. McPherson, Jordan A. Wilson, Robert M. Blew, and James T. Watson. 2021. Sex differences in age-related bone loss and antemortem tooth loss in East-Central Arizona (AD 1200-1450). International Journal of Osteoarchaeology [in press]. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2984.

2021 García-Moreno, Cristina, Patricia Olga Hernández Espinoza, James T. Watson. 2021. Childhood and identity acquisition in the Late Prehispanic Ónavas Valley, Sonora, Mexico. Childhood in the Past 14(1):38-54. DOI:10.1080/17585716.2021.1901338.

2020 Randall Haas, James T. Watson, Tammy Buonasera, John Southon, Jennifer C. Chen, Sarah Noe, Kevin Smith, Carlos Viviano Llave, Jelmer Eerkens, Glendon Parker. 2020. Female Hunters of the Early Americas. Science Advances 6(45):eabd0310. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd0310.

2020 Watson, James T., and Gordon F.M. Rakita (eds.). 2020. Ancient Southwestern Mortuary Practices. University of Colorado Press, Boulder. ISBN: 978-1-64642-012-4

2019 Schmidt, Christopher W., and James T. Watson (eds.). 2019. Dental Wear in Evolutionary and Biocultural Contexts. Elsevier Press, London. ISBN: 978-0-12-815599-8

2019 Cerezo-Roman J, Watson JT. Transformation by Fire: Changes in Funerary Customs from the Early Agricultural to Preclassic Period among Prehispanic Populations of Southern Arizona. American Antiquity, 1-20. DOI: 10.1017/aaq.2019.71

2019  Tuggle, A, Watson JT. Periodontal Health and the Lifecourse Approach in Bioarchaeology. Dental Anthropology 32(2):12-21.

2018  Fleming, K, Watson JT. Raiding and Warfare in Early Farming Villages of the Sonoran Desert. Kiva 84(4):424-439.

2017  Watson JT, Haas R. Dental Evidence for Wild Tuber Processing among Titicaca Basin Foragers 7000 YBP. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 164:117-130.

2016    Watson JT, Phelps DO. Violence and Perimortem Signaling among Early Irrigation Communities in the Sonoran Desert. Current Anthropology 56(5):586-609. DOI: 10.1086/688256.

2015    Watson JT, Cerezo-Roman JI, Nava Maldonado SI, Cruz Guzman C, Villalpando ME. Death and Community Identity in the Trincheras Cremation Cemetery, Sonora, Mexico. In: CW Schmidt, SA Symes (eds.), The Analysis of Burned Human Remains (2nd ed.). Academic Press, New York. Pp. 339-353.

2010    Watson JT. The Introduction of Agriculture and the Foundation of Biological Variation in the Southern Southwest. In: Auerbach B. (ed.), Center for Archaeological Investigations: Archaeological and Biological Variation in the New World. Occasional Papers No. 36. Southern Illinois University Press: Carbondale, Illinois, pp. 135-171.

2010    Watson JT, Fields M, Martin DL. The Introduction of Agriculture and Its Effect on Women’s Oral Health. American Journal of Human Biology 22(1):92-102.

2008    Watson JT. Prehistoric Dental Disease and the Dietary Shift from Cactus to Cultigens in Northwest Mexico. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 18:202-212.

2008    Watson JT. Changes in Food Processing and Occlusal Dental Wear during the Early Agricultural Period in Northwest Mexico. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 135(1):92-99.

Courses Taught

ANTH 468/568 Human Osteology

ANTH 403/503 Diseases and Human Evolution

ANTH 495/595 Special Topics in Arch: Seminar in Bioarchaeology

ANTH 452R/552R Seminar in Southwest Archaeology: Borderlands

ANTH 160D2 Origins of Human Diversity

Areas of Study

Bioarchaeology, dental anthropology, paleopathology, field archaeology.

Human diet, health, and disease in prehistory, origins of agriculture, arid land adaptations.

Southwest United States & northwest Mexico, Mesoamerica, northern Chile.


La Playa Archaeological Project

Oral Health in Northern Chile

Bioarchaeology of the Formative Transition in the Andean Altiplano