Dana Bardolph

UCSB Alumna

Office Location

Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies 262 McGraw Hall Ithaca, New York 14853



  • New World Archaeology (Peruvian Andes, Southeastern U. S.), Paleoethnobotany
  • Culture Contact and Colonialism, Gender and Identity Studies, Foodways
  • Macrobotanical Analysis, Spatial Analysis
  • Discipline Sociopolitics, Ethics, Gender Equity



2017            Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara

2010            M.A. in Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara

2007            B.A. with High Honors, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley


I am an archaeologist whose primary research interests include culture contact, foodways, and identity studies. I received my Ph.D. from UCSB in Spring 2017 and currently hold the position of Hirsch Postdoctoral Associate in the Cornell Institute for Archaeology and Material Studies (CIAMS) at Cornell University. I have worked on various projects in the Southeastern U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Peruvian Andes. I use multiple lines of evidence to examine prehistoric domestic foodways, including macrobotanical data, ceramic assemblages, and pit feature data, to assess how cooking practices, agricultural production, and the spatial dimensions of foodways shape identity construction and social life. In addition to my archaeological research, I am interested in ethical issues in contemporary practice, including gender equity in academic representation and publication.


Reimagining Ancient Agricultural Strategies and Gendered Labor in the Prehispanic

Moche Valley of North Coastal Peru

This dissertation explores the dynamics of food production, migration, and sociopolitical change in relation to the consolidation of the complex, hierarchically organized Southern Moche polity of north coastal Peru during the Early Intermediate Period, or EIP (400 B.C. – A.D. 800). I incorporate archaeobotanical, environmental, and ethnohistorical evidence to address changes in food production, processing, and consumption over five cultural horizons to critically re-evaluate existing models of Moche sociopolitical development, with a bottom-up perspective of the laborers in rural households whose agricultural production supported the growth and florescence of this complex society.

A diachronic comparison of paleoethnobotanical data sampled from five EIP habitation sites in the Moche Valley reveals that dramatic increases in agricultural production by coastal and highland groups occurred prior to the expansion of the Moche state in the A.D. 300s. The plant data suggest that complex political dynamics involving tribute relationships and suprahousehold commensal events were already in place during the Gallinazo phase (A.D. 1-200). Highland and coastal peoples likely established mutually beneficial relationships that revolved around food and farming during this period, including fiestas, religious gatherings, and work parties. I argue that Moche leaders built upon existing political institutions in which rural households were already engaged in intensive agricultural production, which included maize but also other field cultigens and tree crops.

The intensification of food-processing demands over time also suggests that changes in women’s social status may have been tied to increases in processing demands, as women were subjected to new labor increases, time constraints, and scheduling conflicts. Detailed intrasite spatial analysis of a highland colony site reveals that women likely prepared food in private, behind-the-scenes contexts for supra-household events and public displays that were performed on patio terraces at high status compounds. I interpret the restriction of visibility, with women processing maize out of view within kitchen walls, as part of increased gender segregation that often accompanies processes like agricultural intensification. The micro-scale approach employed in this study departs from the current, prevailing studies of political, economic, and ideological phenomena at larger ceremonial centers, on the Peruvian north coast, in the Andes more broadly, and beyond.

Funding for this research was provided by competitive awards from the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Dissertation Fieldwork Grant no. 8736), the Leal Anne Kerry Mertes award for fieldwork, a UCSB Humanities and Social Science Research Grant, various UCSB Anthropology Graduate Student Research Grants, and funds from MOCHE, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to protecting archaeological sites through community heritage empowerment.


Changes in Mississippian Plant Foodways in the Late Prehistoric Central Illinois River Valley

This project assesses early Mississippian period (A.D. 1100-1150) plant foodways in the Central Illinois River Valley (CIRV). I analyzed macrobotanical samples from the Lamb site in Schuyler County, IL in order to examine the dynamics of contact with Cahokia and emulation of American Bottom Mississippian traditions, with a particular focus on foodways. Macrobotanical data from the Lamb site have been used to reconstruct local subsistence patterns in the early Mississippian CIRV, assess seasonality of the site’s occupation, and are contextualized within a broader temporal and regional framework in order to understand changes in plant food production that may have occurred in response to Mississippian interaction and influence. Comparative analyses (conducted in collaboration with Dr. Amber VanDerwarker and Dr. Gregory Wilson) indicate a dramatic increase in maize production by the early Mississippian period in comparison to the preceding Late Woodland period. In addition, the density of maize production at the Lamb site falls well within the range of variation of Stirling-phase American Bottom sites, indicating a level of production comparable to settlements within the Cahokia polity. These data shed new light on practical reorganization of local CIRV inhabitants in response to influence from Cahokia, and will be compared to future datasets from neighboring regions upon completion of analyses of other collections. 

Funding for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation (Award no. 1062290) and a UCSB Academic Senate Faculty Research Grant.


In Press  Fisherman, Farmer, Rich Man, Poor Man, Weaver, Parcialidad Chief? Household Archaeology at Cerro La Virgen, a Chimu Town Within the Hinterland of Chan Chan. In New Perspectives on the Social Dynamics and Economic Interactions of Andean Maritime Communities, edited by Oscar Prieto and Daniel Sandweiss, University Press of Florida, Gainesville, in press. (B.R. Billman, D.N. Bardolph, J. Hudson, and J. Briceño)

2017    Maize in Mississippian Beginnings. In Mississippian Beginnings, edited by Gregory D. Wilson, pp. 29–71. University Press of Florida, Gainesville. (A.M. VanDerwarker, D.N. Bardolph, and C.M. Scarry)

2016 Sociopolitics in Southeastern Archaeology: The Role of Gender in Scholarly Authorship. Southeastern Archaeology 35(3):175–193. (D.N. Bardolph and A.M. VanDerwarker)

2016    New World Paleoethnobotany in the New Millennium (2000-2013). Journal of Archaeological Research 24(2):125–177. (A.M. VanDerwarker, D.N. Bardolph, K. M. Hoppa, H.B. Thakar, L. Martin, A. Jaqua, M. Biwer, and K. Gill)

2015    Sexuality: Ancient North America. In The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, edited by Patricia Whelehan and Anne Bolin, pp. 1–6. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, Massachusetts. (D.N. Bardolph and L. Gamble)

2015    Lamb Site Archaeobotanical Remains: Reconstructing Early Mississippian Plant Collection and Cultivation in the Central Illinois River Valley. Illinois Archaeology 27:151–172. (D.N. Bardolph and A.M. VanDerwarker)

2015    Lamb Site Features: Clues to Cooking and Community Organization. Illinois Archaeology 27:150–173.

2015    The Lamb Site (11Sc24): Evidence of Cahokian Contact and Mississippianization in the Central Illinois River Valley. Illinois Archaeology 27:1–12. (D.N. Bardolph and G.D. Wilson)

2014    A Critical Evaluation of Recent Gendered Publishing Trends in American Archaeology. American Antiquity 79(3):522–540.

2014    Evaluating Cahokian Contact and Mississippian Identity Politics in the Late Prehistoric Central Illinois River Valley. American Antiquity 79(1):69–89.

2013    Maize Adoption and Intensification in the Central Illinois River Valley: An Analysis of Archaeobotanical Data from the Late Woodland through Early Mississippian Periods (A.D. 400-1200). Southeastern Archaeology 32:147–168. (A.M VanDerwarker, G.D. Wilson, and D.N. Bardolph)


Courses TA’d

ANTH 2: Introductory Cultural Anthropology (UCSB)

ANTH 3: Introduction to Archaeology (Head TA) (UCSB)

ANTH 111: Anthropology of Food (UCSB)

ANTH 131: North American Indians (Head TA) (UCSB)

ANTH 133: Cultural Development in Mesoamerica (UCSB)

Chicano/a Studies 1B: Introduction to Chicano/a Studies (UCSB)

Chicano/a Studies 149: Body, Culture, and Power (UCSB)


Courses Taught:

ANTHR 1101: Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History (Cornell)

ANTH 131: North American Indians (UCSB)

ANTH 133: Cultural Development in Mesoamerica (UCSB)

 ANTH 197DB: Archaeology of Culture Contact and Colonialism (UCSB)

ANTH 194P: Archaeology Laboratory Practicum (UCSB)