Research at Hendrix

J. Brett Hill

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Ph.D., Arizona State University

Research Interests: Using GIS to address questions of human ecology; ancient environmental degradation in desert regions

Over the last 25 years Brett has conducted archaeological research in seven countries on three continents, and covering time spans from the Upper Paleolithic more than 20,000 years ago to the Middle Ages. Since the early 1990’s he has used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to address questions of human ecology and has focused especially on ancient environmental degradation in desert regions. Research with colleagues at Arizona State University on the Mediterranean Landscape Dynamics Project and with colleagues at Archaeology Southwest in Tucson emphasize the relationships among ancient farmers and pastoralists, and the land and water resources critical to their survival in an arid environment. Brett is particularly interested in lessons from the past for contemporary problems of environmental degradation and brings these insights to the classroom for example in his “Human Impact on Ancient Environments” course at Hendrix.

Digital technology brings tremendous capability to analyses such as these and Brett has been active in the development and use of GIS in environmental archaeology. Among the many GIS applications he has pioneered include techniques for estimating agricultural potential, rates of erosion, population size and density, spatial potential for social networking, the effects of terrain on climate, and the likelihood of heritage tourism negatively impacting archaeological sites. Research on these and related issues has been supported by numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and resulted in more than 50 professional publications. Brett teaches GIS at Hendrix and has frequently involved students in his GIS research using databases he developed for Jordan and American Southwest. He has also taken students on archaeological field schools in New Mexico, and most recently on an archaeological tour of France.