David Killick

About David Killick

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 the College of Social Sciences 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 28 PhDs. 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 and New Caledonia. I am an Advisory Editor of the Journal of Archaeological Science, and a member of the Editorial Board for Journal of African Archaeology, Advances in Archaeological Practice and Ethnoarchaeology. I am strongly influenced by the World History movement, and apply its comparative perspective to the history and prehistory of technology worldwide. I am an Adjunct Professor in Materials Science and Engineering and a contributing faculty member to their program in Conservation Science.

Selected Publications

Hedquist, Saul L., Alyson Thibodeau, John Welch and David Killick (2017). Canyon Creek revisited: new investigations of a Late Prehispanic turquoise mine (Arizona, USA).  Journal of Archaeological Science 87:44-58.

Liu, Siran;Chen, Kunlong; Rehren, Thilo; Mei, Jianjun; Chen, Jianli; Liu, Yu; Killick, David. Did China import metals from Africa in the Bronze Age? Archaeometry, in press.

Killick, David (2017).  Tracing Ingombe Ilede's trade connections. Antiquity 91(358):1087-1088. (Invited comment on Susan Keech McIntosh and Brian Fagan, Redating the Ingombe Ilede burials, pp. 1069-1077.)
Killick, David (2016).  Iron smelting technology in the Middle Senegal Valley, ca. 550 BCE-1500 CE. In The Search for Takrur: Archaeological Excavations and Survey along the Middle Senegal River Valley, edited by Roderick J. McIntosh, Susan Keech McIntosh and Hamady Bocoum, pp. 191-280. Yale University Publications in Anthropology 93. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Fenn, Thomas and David Killick (2016). Copper Alloys. In The Search for Takrur: Archaeological Excavations and Survey in the Middle Senegal Valley, edited by Roderick J. McIntosh, Susan Keech McIntosh and Hamady Bocoum, pp. 281-298. Yale University Publications in Anthropology 93. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Killick, David, Duncan Miller, Thomas Thondlana and Marcos Martinón-Torres (2016).  Copper mining and metallurgy in the northern Lowveld, South Africa, ca. 1000 CE - ca. 1880.  Journal of Archaeological Science 75:10-26.
Wilmsen, Edwin, Anne Griffiths, Phenyo Thebe, David Killick and Goitseone Molatlhegi (2016).  Moijabana rocks-Pilikwe pots: the acceleration of clay formation by potters using simple mechanical means. Ethnoarchaeology 8:137-157.
Chiu, Scarlett, David Killick, William R. Dickinson and Christophe Sand (2016). Connection and competition: some early insights gained from petrographic studies of New Caledonian Lapita pottery. Archaeology in Oceania 51:141-149 (and online supplemtary information).
Killick, David (2016) A global perspective on the pyrotechnologies of sub-Saharan Africa. Azania 51(1):62-87. 

Courses Taught

ANTH 637. Archaeological Methods. Next: Spring 2018. (Co-ordinator for seminars led by many of the archaeology faculty).

ANTH/CLAS/NES/MSE 474/574. Archaeometry.  Next: Fall 2018. (Survey of a wide range of scientific methods in archaeology).

ANTH/AFAS 329. Peoples and Cultures of Africa. Next: Spring 2018. (Introduction to African Sudies - prehistory, history, politics, economics, health, arts, etc.).

ANTH 160A1. Patterns in Prehistory. Next: Fall 2018. (General Education - survey of world prehistory).

MNE 510A. Mineral Properties in Engineering (co-taught with Dr. Isabel Barton). (introduction to basic mineralogy and petrology for mining engineers, but equally suitable for archaeologists as preparation for the Optical Petrography course (see below).  There are no prerequisites.

Optical Petrography - as Special Topics in Archaeology (ANTH 495/595A) on demand. Prerequisite: a course on mineralogy (such as MNE 510A or GEOS 306, both taught every Fall). On demand.

Optical Metallography - as Special Topics in Archaeology (ANTH 495/595A) for seniors or graduate students from Anthropology and from Materials Science and Engineering. On demand.

Archaeometallurgy -  as Special Topics in Archaeology (ANTH595A) on demand.  This is a reading course: for technical training, take Optical Metallography.

Industrial Archaeology - on demand as a seminar (ANTH 696b).

African Archaeology - on demand, as independent study.

Visiting Scholars

Dr. Ed Wilmsen (Edinburgh), November 29 through December 6, to continue our long-standing collaboration on ethnoarchaeology and archaeology of pottery in northern Botswana.

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.  Her PhD research was partly supported by NSF Grant 0542135.

Esther Echenique - Esther's doctoral dissertation research is on changes in pottery production and distribution in southern Bolivia and northern Argentina as these regions were incorporated into the Inca Empire, and is funded by a Doctoral Dissertation Grant from the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

Jay Stephens. His MA thesis constructed  a database of geological lead isotopic ratios for copper deposits in the southern half of Africa (from Katanga to central Namibia, Botswana and South Africa).  His PhD research will use this to trace the movement of copper and bronze throughout this region during the Iron Age.

Former PhD students, their dissertation topics and current locations

Brunella Santarelli (2015). Technological Analysis of Pueblo I Lead Glazed Ceramics from the Upper San Juan Basin, Colorado (ca. 700-850 CE). (Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering; co-supervised with Nancy Odegaard). Brunella's dissertation research was supported by NSF Grant 1419233.  She was a Postdoctoral Fellow in conservation science at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2015/2016.

Fumie Iizuka (2013). Early Pottery in the Tropics of Panama (4500-3200 BC): Production Processes, Circulation and Diagenesis. (Co-supervised with Michael Schiffer).  Fumie has returned to Japan.. 

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). Her PhD research was funded by NSF Grant 0852270 and by the Lister Fellowship of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. She is now an Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences at Dickinson College.

Thomas Fenn (2011). Applications of Heavy Isotope Research to Archaeological Problems of Provenance and Trade. (Co-supervised with Joaquin Ruiz).  His PhD research was funded by NSF Grant 0852270. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at California Polytechnic University, Ponoma.

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. Her PhD research was funded by NSF Grant 0923714. She is an Associate Professor of Engineering at the University of Bridgeport, 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. Her PhD research was funded by a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Sarah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Reno. In 2016 she was selected as a Presidential Early Career in Science and Engineering (PECASE) fellow, which will fund her research for 5 years.

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.  His PhD research was funded by NSF Grant 0606747 and by a predoctoral fellowship from the Mellon Foundation.

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 a Vice Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology at Yarmouk University, Jordan. His PhD research was funded by NSF Grant 0808885.

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. Her PhD research was funded by NSF Grant 9903215. Aniko is Director of Scientific Research in the Center for Conservation and Preservation, Yale University. 

Research Interests

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

African history and prehistory, with particular focus on 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

David Killick's picture

Contact Information

Professor of Anthropology
Telephone: 520.621.8685
Fax: 520.621.2088
Office: Emil W. Haury Building, Room 310E


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

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