Sociology/ Anthropology Department

J. Brett Hill, Ph.D.

Hill, Brent

J. Brett Hill, Ph.D.

Nancy and Craig Wood Odyssey Professor of Anthropology

He/Him/His Mills Center 306C (501) 450-3828

Hendrix Professor Hill’s New Book Published

Anthropology professor examines Native and Anthropological views of the past

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Siquieros to Deliver Mellon Lecture February 13

Education curator, member ofTohono O’odham Nation visits Hendrix

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Field Trip: Toltec Mounds

Dr. Brett Hill and Dr. Anne Goldberg took a group of students to Toltel Mounds Park outside Little Rock, Arkansas (fall semester, 2005).  

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Dr. J. Brett Hill, Professor of Anthropology, received his Ph.D. from Arizona State University. He teaches courses on archaeology and human ecology. His research and teaching interests include Human Ecology, Landscape Dynamics, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Spatial Analysis, Environmental Justice and the North American Southwest.

Academic Background

  • B.A., University of Colorado, 1984
  • M.A., Arizona State University, 1995
  • Ph.D., Arizona State University, 2002

Selected Bibliography

  •  Hill, J. Brett

    2019    From Huhugam to Hohokam: Heritage and Archaeology in the American Southwest . Lexington Press. Lanham, MD


  •  Hill, J. Brett, Patrick D. Lyons, Jeffery J. Clark and William H. Doelle

     2016    The "Collapse" of Cooperative Hohokam Irrigation in the Lower Salt River Valley. Journal of the Southwest. 57(4) 609-673.


  •  Hill J. Brett, Matthew A. Peeples, Deborah L. Huntley, and Hannah Jane Carmack

     2015    Spatializing Social Network Analysis in the Late Precolumbian Southwest. Advances in Archaeological Practice . 3(1) 63-77.


  • Mills, Barbara J., Jeffery J. Clark, Matthew A. Peeples, Wm. R. Haas, Jr., John M. Roberts, Jr., J. Brett Hill, Deborah L. Huntley, Lewis Borck, Ronald L. Breiger, Aaron Clauset, and M. Steven Shackley

    2013    Transformation of Social Networks in the Late Pre-Hispanic US Southwest. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . 111(13).

  • Nials, Fred L., David A. Gregory and J. Brett Hill

    2011       The Stream Reach Concept and the Macro-Scale Study of Riverine Agriculture in Arid and Semi-Arid Environments. Geoarcheology 26(5) 724-761.


  • Hill, J. Brett, Jeffery J. Clark, William H. Doelle and Patrick D. Lyons

    2010    Depopulation of the Northern Southwest: A Macro-Regional Perspective, In Leaving Mesa Verde:   Peril and Change in the Thirteenth-Century Southwest , Edited by T.A. Kohler, M.D. Varien and A.M. Wright. Tucson, Pp. 34-52. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.


  •  Hill, J. Brett, Mathew Devitt and Marina Drigo

     2011    Improving Archeological Predictive Modeling for the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area. CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship.  8(1, 2).


  • Fisher, Christopher T., J. Brett Hill and Gary M. Feinman (Editors)

    2009    The Archaeology of Environmental Change: Socionatural Legacies of Degradation and Resilience . University of Arizona Press, Tucson


  •  Hill, J. Brett

     2006    Human Ecology in the Wadi al-Hasa: Land Use and Abandonment through the Holocene . University of Arizona Press, Tucson


  •  Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Chip, and J. Brett Hill

     2004    Mapping History: Cartography and the Construction of the San Pedro Valley. History and Anthropology 15, 175-200.


  •  Hill, J. Brett, Jeffery J. Clark, William H. Doelle and Patrick D. Lyons

     2004    Prehistoric Demography in the Southwest: Migration, Coalescence and Hohokam Population Decline. American Antiquity 69(4) 689-716.


  •  Hill, J. Brett

     2004    Land Use and an Archaeological Perspective on Socio-Natural Studies in the Wadi al-Hasa, West Central Jordan . American Antiquity 69(3) 389-412.


  •  Hill, J. Brett

     1998    Ecological Variability and Agricultural Specialization Among the Late Prehistoric Pueblos of Central New Mexico. Journal of Field Archaeology 25, 275-294.


Experiential Learning Opportunities

  • Paleolithic Art and the Emergence of Humanity in Southern Europe

    In June of 2013 I accompanied a group of Hendrix students to experience the remarkable record of early human cultural evolution found in France, Spain and Italy. The Franco-Cantabrian region of France and Spain holds the single greatest concentration of Paleolithic art found anywhere on Earth. This record of cave paintings, sculpture and portable art documents one of the most profound transitions in human history as modern humans emerged from millennia of relatively utilitarian existence to produce spectacular artistic depictions of their world. This record is of great value to anthropologists interested in understanding both the environment of our early ancestors and their cognitive development as they portrayed the world they perceived.

    In contrast with the vivid art of Upper Paleolithic Franco-Cantabria is the relatively mundane and unexpressive archaeological record of the preceding Middle Paleolithic when Europe was inhabited by Neandertals. At least this has been the prevailing view of archaeologists for more than a century. One of the most fascinating aspects of recent research in the area is the revelation that Neandertals may not have been as culturally impoverished as has been imagined. For example, state of the art dating techniques applied to cave art in Spain last year revealed that some paintings were at least 40,800 year old, and prompted suggestions that these paintings may have been produced by Neandertals rather than modern humans.

    Such discoveries are only the tip of a growing awareness among archaeologists that much of our understanding of the relationship between modern humans and Neandertals has been shaped by earlier generations of unchallenged assumption and national prejudice. To some curiosity the first Neandertal remains were discovered by German workers in 1856. Just a few years later the French were elated to discover the more gracile Cro-Magnon remains in France and declare the first truly modern humans their own. From early on prominent scholars attributed great differences to the two groups and much was inferred about cognitive differences that may have led our ancestors to replace Neandertals.

    Around the same time fantastic paintings of cave walls were ‘discovered’ in France. Their discovery had as much to do with recognition as visibility, as many had been long known but misunderstood. It was only with the growing awareness of evolutionary biology and its implications for humans that much of the archaeological and paleontological record was recognized for what it was. When equally fantastic paintings were discovered at Altamira in Spain diplomatic relations were again tested by French assertions that the Spanish works were too refined to be authentic.

    The art found at sites like Lascaux and Altamira has provided generations of anthropologists with the most compelling evidence for the rise of language and abstract thought in what is sometimes referred to as the creative revolution. They have also inspired modern observers as a source of pride symbolic of the birth of art and modern man. After visiting Lascaux, legend has it that Pablo Picasso claimed “we have learned nothing”, in acknowledgement of the artistic mastery visible in paintings 18,000 years old.

    Archaeologists have long recognized that the preponderance of artistic work from this age was associated with modern humans, and its relative infrequence from Neandertal contexts led them to conclude that modern humans’ ability to symbolically express themselves was a critical adaptive advantage. Thus the emergence of artistic creativity became a seminal moment in human evolution and has attracted the attention of scholars, artists, nationalists and tourists for more than a hundred and fifty years.

    The archaeological record of Italy has historically entered less prominently into such debates, but more intensive study there is now contributing to the growing evidence that Neandertals exhibited a previously underappreciated cultural sophistication. Dr. Julien Riel-Salvatore of the University of Colorado, Denver is playing an active part in the Italian research with excavations at the Paleolithic sites of the Caverna delle Arene Candide and Balzi Rossi, in the region of Liguria in northern Italy. He visited Hendrix in early February to speak as part of our Human Evolution Crossing and hosted our group this summer in visiting these important excavations.

    Following our visit to Italy we departed to the northwest where we stopped at the Grotte de Chauvet Museum in Vallon Pont-D’Arc, then continued on to the French Pyrenees where we visited caves of Niaux and Isturitz. From there we moved west to spend a week in Santander, Spain where we visited numerous caves in the Cantabria and Asturias areas, including El Castillo, Tito Bustillo and the reproduction of Altamira Cave. We then turned back east to the Dordogne region of France, staying in Les Eyzies where we visit the numerous rock shelters and cave sites in the vicinity, including Font de Gaume, Roufignac and the reproduction at Lascaux II. In all we visited 15 caves sites with Paleolithic paintings and several other museums and reproductions, before ending our trip in Paris.