Christian Peterson, Faculty, Department of Anthropology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Christian E. Peterson

Professor, Graduate Chair
Office: Dean 204
Telephone: 1 (808) 956-8460

Browse My Publications:


I'm an archaeologist specializing in the comparative study of early complex societies—social formations that have sometimes been labeled "chiefdoms". I identify and analyze patterned variation in trajectories of societal growth and decline so as to better understand the dynamics of social change. I'm especially interested in how different kinds and degrees of inequality contribute to these dynamics. Topics emphasized in my research include regional settlement distribution, community patterning, and demography; household artifact assemblage analysis; burials and public works investment; quantitative analysis, spatial analysis, and agent-based modeling. I conduct archaeological fieldwork in northeastern China and in South Africa's Kruger National Park.


Regional Analysis, Household Archaeology, Quantitative Methods; China and Southern Africa.


  • PhD, Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, 2006
  • MA, Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, 2005
  • BA, Anthropology (specialization in Prehistoric Archaeology), University of Toronto, 1999


  • ANTH 151: Emerging Humanity
  • ANTH 220: Quantitative Anthropology
  • ANTH 325: Origins of Cities
  • ANTH 369: Household Archaeology
  • ANTH 380: Archaeological Lab Techniques
  • ANTH 382: Archaeological Interpretation
  • ANTH 451: Decolonizing Anthropology through South Africa
  • ANTH 462: East Asian Archaeology
  • ANTH 466: Quantitative Archaeology
  • ANTH 471: Field Mapping
  • ANTH 473: Lithic Artifact Assemblage Analysis
  • ANTH 651: Decolonizing Anthropology
  • ANTH 666: Archaeological Data Analysis
  • ANTH 669: Advanced Household Archaeology
  • ANTH 750B: Regional Settlement, Community Patterning, and Demography
  • ANTH 750B: Chiefdomization


My field research focuses on explaining the emergence and development of Middle Neolithic (4500–3000 BC) and Early Iron Age (AD 700-950) chiefly communities in northeastern China and northeastern South Africa, respectively. I am co-PI of two ongoing field projects: the Liaoning Hongshan Period Communities Project, working at and around the Hongshan ceremonial complexes of Dongshanzui and Niuheliang in western Liaoning province, China; and of the Letaba-Oliphants Confluence Area Communities Project, working at and around Le6/7 in South Africa's Kruger National Park. We are documenting the nature of human activity and organization at the household, community, regional polity, and macro-regional scales to better understand the shape and social dynamics of the earliest complex societies to emerge in both places.

I am also a co-PI of the Chiefdoms Datasets Project, which is compiling, analyzing, and comparing previously published primary archaeological data on settlement distribution, community organization, demography, public works, household artifact assemblages, and burials for more than five dozen trajectories of early complex society development from around the world. Its aim is to identify patterns of societal change and to better understand the social forces at work in the trajectories that comprise these different rhymes.

My principal collaborators in these three endeavors are Annie R. Antonites (Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, Pretoria), Xander Antonites (University of Pretoria), C. Adam Berrey (California State University, Sacramento), Robert D. Drennan (University of Pittsburgh), and Lu Xueming (Renmin University of China).