James T Watson
- Associate Curator
- Associate Professor, Anthropology
- Associate Director, Arizona State Museum
My research examines health and disease in prehistoric populations through their skeletal remains. I specifically interested in understanding prehistoric human adaptations in desert ecosystems and the role local resources play in the adoption of agriculture and their impact on health. Current projects involve the excavation and analysis of the earliest farmers in the Sonoran Desert and of incipient agriculturalists in the Atacama Desert, along the northern coast of Chile.
- Ph.D. Anthropology
- University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- Cavities on the Cob: Dental Health and the Agricultural Transition in Sonora, Mexico
- M.A. Anthropology
- Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas, USA
- A Quantitative Study of Artificial Cranial Deformation: Biocultural Behavior in Southwest Prehistory
- B.A. Anthropology
- University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
- Assistant Professor, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (2006 - 2008)
- Instructor, University of Nevada Las Vegas (2005 - 2006)
Archaeology, Biological Anthropology
DissertationANTH 920 (Spring 2019)
Honors ThesisANTH 498H (Spring 2019)
Independent StudyANTH 699 (Spring 2019)
DissertationANTH 920 (Fall 2018)
Honors ThesisANTH 498H (Fall 2018)
Human OsteologyANTH 468 (Fall 2018)
Senior ThesisANTH 498A (Fall 2018)
Spcl Tops Biologic AnthANTH 595D (Fall 2018)
Spcl Tops Biologic AnthroANTH 495D (Fall 2018)
Directed ResearchANTH 492 (Spring 2018)
Diseases and Human EvolutionANTH 403 (Spring 2018)
Diseases and Human EvolutionANTH 503 (Spring 2018)
DissertationANTH 920 (Spring 2018)
Senior ThesisANTH 498A (Spring 2018)
DissertationANTH 920 (Fall 2017)
Human OsteologyANTH 468 (Fall 2017)
Human OsteologyANTH 568 (Fall 2017)
Independent StudyANTH 699 (Fall 2017)
Master's ReportANTH 909 (Fall 2017)
Senior ThesisANTH 498A (Fall 2017)
Directed ResearchANTH 492 (Spring 2017)
DissertationANTH 920 (Spring 2017)
Directed ResearchANTH 392 (Fall 2016)
DissertationANTH 920 (Fall 2016)
Human OsteologyANTH 468 (Fall 2016)
Human OsteologyANTH 568 (Fall 2016)
Independent StudyANTH 599 (Fall 2016)
Independent StudyANTH 399 (Summer I 2016)
- Watson, J. T., & Garcia M., C. (2017). Dental Modification and the Expansion and Manipulation of Mesoamerican Identity into Northwest Mexico. In A World View of Bioculturally Modified Teeth(pp 298-315). University of Florida Press.
- Watson, J. T., & Byrd, R. M. (2015). A bioarchaeological perspective on change and continuity in an Early Agricultural period community. In Implements of Change: Tools, Subsistence, and the Built Environment of Las Capas, an Early Agricultural Irrigation Community in Southern Arizona(pp 377-388). Anthropological Papers: Archaeology Southwest.
- Watson, J. T., Cerezo-Roman, J. I., Nava Maldonado, S. I., Cruz Guzman, C., & Villalpando, M. E. (2015). Death and Community Identity in the Trincheras Cremation Cemetery, Sonora, Mexico. In The Analysis of Burned Human Remains(pp 339-353). Academic Press.
- Watson, J. T., & Arriaza, B. (2014). La Salud Bucal y la Transicion Hacia la Agricultura en el Norte de Chile. In Los Tumulos Funerarios, 1000 Anos de Historia en los Valles de Arica(pp 68-80). Universidad de Tarapaca, Arica.
- Fish, P. R., Fish, S. K., Christopherson, G., Pitezel, T. A., Watson, J. T., Leckman, P. O., & Heidke, J. (2013). Emerging Settlement Differentiation in Preceramic and Early Hohokam Villages on Tumamoc Hill. In New Perspectives on the Rock Art and Prehistoric Settlement Organization of Tumamoc Hill, Tucson, Arizona(pp 1-22). University of Ariona Press.
- Elliott, A. C., McLaurin, B. T., Watson, J. T., & Villalpando, M. E. (2012). Genesis of an Artifact Layer-Natural and Cultural Processes at the La Playa Archaeological Site, Sonora, Mexico. In Reconstructing Human- Landscape Interactions – Volume 1(pp 21-34). Springer.
- McLaurin, B. T., Elliott, A. C., Watson, J. T., & Villalpando, M. E. (2012). Quaternary Stratigraphy of the La Playa Archaeological Site (SON F:10:3), Northern Sonora, Mexico. In Reconstructing Human- Landscape Interactions – Volume 1(pp 3-20). Springer.
- Watson, J. T. (2010). The Introduction of Agriculture and the Foundation of Biological Variation in the Southern Southwest. In Archaeological and Biological Variation in the New World(pp 135-171). Center for Archaeological Investigations: Southern Illinois University Press.
- Garcia M., C., & Watson, J. T. (2017). Bioarqueología de la población prehispánica del valle de Ónavas, Sonora. Rutas de Campo, 1(1), 59-72.
- Haas, R., Stefanescu, I. C., Garcia-Putnam, A., Aldenderfer, M. S., Clementz, M. T., Murphy, M. S., Viviano, L. C., & Watson, J. T. (2017). Humans permanently occupied the Andean highlands by at least 7 ka. ROYAL SOCIETY OPEN SCIENCE, 4(6).
- Watson, J. T., & Haas, R. (2017). Dental evidence for wild tuber processing among Titicaca Basin foragers 7000 ybp. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY, 164(1), 117-130.
- Garcia, C., & Watson, J. T. (2016). The Onavas Valley. Archaeology Southwest, 30(3), 17-18.
- Watson, J. T. (2016). Death, Memorial, and Remembrance in Sonora. Archaeology Southwest, 30(3), 23.
- Watson, J. T., & Garcia Moreno, C. (2016). Postclassic Expansion of Mesoamerican (Biocultural) Characteristics into Sonora, Northwest Mexico. Journal of Field Archaeology, 41(2), 222-235. doi:10.1080/00934690.2016.1159899
- Watson, J. T., & Phelps, D. O. (2016). Violence and Perimortem Signaling among Early Irrigation Communities in the Sonoran Desert. Current Anthropology, 56(5). doi:10.1086/688256
- Carpenter, J., Sanchez, G., Watson, J. T., & Villalpando, E. (2015). The La Playa Archaeological Project: Binational Multidisciplinary Research on Long-term Human Adaptation in the Sonoran Desert. Journal of the Southwest, 57(2-3), 213-264.
- Watson, J. T., & Weiland, J. (2015). Documenting Archaeological Mortuary Features using High Dynamic Range (HDR) Imaging. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 25(3), 366-373. doi:10.1002/oa.2302
- Brooks Garcia, A., Beckett, R., & Watson, J. T. (2014). Internal Environmental Characteristics of a Chiribaya Style Tomb Holding Swine Remains and their Taphonomic Impact on Decomposition Delay, a Requisite for Mummification. Papers on Anthropology, 23(1), 45-62.
- Watson, J. T., & Stoll, M. (2013). Gendered Logistic Mobility among the Earliest Farmers in the Sonoran Desert. Latin American Antiquity, 24(4), 433-450.
- Watson, J. T., Arriaza, B., Standen, V., & Munoz Ovalle, I. (2013). Tooth Wear Related to Marine Foraging, Agro-Pastoralism and the Formative Transition on the Northern Chilean Coast. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OSTEOARCHAEOLOGY, 23(3), 287-302.More infoOcclusal surface wear scores were examined in a sample of 200 Formative period (1500bc-ad500) skeletons from the lower Azapa Valley in northwest Chile. Wear rate and plane (angle) were additionally evaluated using a subsample of paired first and second mandibular molars. The Formative period represents the transition from marine foraging to agro-pastoral dependence in the region, and differences in oral pathology indicate that diet varied by site location (coast vs valley interior) but not by archaeological phase (early vs late). We predicted that occlusal wear would demonstrate similar patterns, resulting from differences in food consistency, and therefore hypothesised that in coastal groups consuming greater quantities of foraged foods, occlusal surfaces should wear faster and exhibit flat molar wear, whereas among valley interior groups consuming greater quantities of agro-pastoral products, these should wear slower but exhibit more angled molar wear. Heavier posterior tooth wear was identified among coastal residents, but rate and angle of molar occlusal attrition did not differ significantly by location. Heavier overall wear and a steeper molar wear plane were identified during the early phase indicating that food consistency varied somewhat over the course of the Formative period. Overall, the results indicate that, although limited differences in tooth wear exist by site location, wear varied more over time likely reflecting a gradual transition from foraging to agro-pastoral dependence in the lower Azapa Valley. Although oral health indicators point to differences in dietary investment by location, maintenance of a mixed subsistence economy likely sustained a comparative consistency of foodstuffs. Copyright (c) 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
- Byrd, R. M., Watson, J. T., Fish, P., & Fish, S. (2012). Architecture and the Afterlife: A Spatial Analysis of Mortuary Patterns at University Indian Ruin. Journal of Arizona Archaeology, 2(1), 101-111.
- Copeland, A., Quade, J., Watson, J. T., McLaurin, B. T., & Villalpando, E. (2012). Stratigraphy and geochronology of La Playa archaeological site, Sonora, Mexico. JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE, 39(9), 2934-2944.More infoLa Playa archaeological site in northern Sonora, Mexico contains a long record of human activity that includes the Paleoindian period (terminal Pleistocene) and much of the Holocene. The size and complexity of La Playa has discouraged a systematic characterization of its stratigraphy and geochronology, a deficiency we redress in the study. We distinguished seven stratigraphic units ranging in age from >44,570 to 400 cal yr B.P. using C-14 dates from charcoal and terrestrial gastropods found mostly in archaeological features. All of the buried (in situ) cultural remains are contained in Units B (4690-1580 cal yr BR) and C (1010-400 cal yr BR) and represent overbank deposition from the nearby Rio Boquillas. Occupation at the site peaks in Units B-4 and B-5, corresponding to the Cienega phase (2800 1800 cal yr B.P.) of the Early Agricultural period. This period coincides with the growth of early agricultural villages in the region and is marked at La Playa by thousands of archaeological features including roasting pits, human burials, and extensive canal irrigation systems. The presence of semi-aquatic and aquatic snails demonstrates that water was present year round in the canal systems constructed during this period. Stable and radiometric isotopic evidence suggests that early agriculturalists diverted ground water over several kilometers from the nearby Rio Boquillas. The extensive Cienega phase occupation ended after about 1700 cal yr B.P. with deep erosion of the site, an event also visible in alluvial records in southern Arizona that marked the end of the Early Agricultural period and significant changes in settlement organization in the region. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Watson, J. T., Fields, M., & Stoll, M. (2012). Violence and Postmortem Signaling in Early Farming Communities of the Sonoran Desert: An Expanded Taphonomic Approach. Landscapes of Violence, 2(2), 11.
- Fish, S. K., Fish, P. R., Christopherson, G. L., Pietzel, T. A., & Watson, J. T. (2011). Two Villages on Tumamoc Hill. Journal of Arizona Archaeology, 1(2), 185-196.
- Harry, K. G., & Watson, J. T. (2010). The Archaeology of Pueblo Grande de Nevada: Past and Current Research within Nevada’s “Lost City”. Kiva, 75(4), 403-424.
- Watson, J. T., Fields, M., & Martin, D. L. (2010). Introduction of agriculture and its effects on women's oral health. American Journal of Human Biology, 22(1), 92--102.
- Watson, J. T., Munoz Ovalle, I., & Arriaza, B. (2010). Formative Adaptations, Diet, and Oral Health in the Azapa Valley of Northwest Chile. Latin American Antiquity, 21(4), 423-439.
- Fields, M., Watson, J. T., Herschaft, E. E., & Martin, D. L. (2009). Sex and the Agricultural Transition: Dental Health of Early Farming Females. Journal of Dentistry and Oral Hygiene, 1(4), 042-051.
- Watson, J. T. (2008). Animal Resource Exploitation among the Virgin River Puebloans in the American Southwest. Journal of Field Archaeology, 33(4), 1-11.
- Watson, J. T. (2008). Changes in food processing and occlusal dental wear during the early agricultural period in northwest Mexico. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 135(1), 92--99.
- Watson, J. T. (2008). Prehistoric dental disease and the dietary shift from cactus to cultigens in northwest Mexico. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 18(2), 202--212.
- Benyshek, D. C., & Watson, J. T. (2006). Exploring the thrifty genotype's food-shortage assumptions: A cross-cultural comparison of ethnographic accounts of food security among foraging and agricultural societies. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 131(1), 120--126.
- Baustian, K. M., & Watson, J. T. (2017, December). Research and Consultation Protocols for Working with Human Remains when Descendant Communities are Lacking or Loosely Defined. Annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association.
- Haas, R., & Watson, J. T. (2017, May). Dental Evidence for Tuber Intensification in the Titicaca Basin, 7kya. Annual Meeting of the Institute of Andean Studies. Berkeley, CA: Institute of Andean Studies.
- Hass, R., Watson, J. T., Viviano Llave, C., & Aldenderfer, M. (2017, April). The Signaling and Inheritance of Cooperation: Artificial Cranial Modification among Altiplano Foragers. Annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Vancouver, B.C., Canada: Society for American Archaeology.
- Mallard, A., Watson, J. T., & Auerbach, B. M. (2017, April). Evaluating the Limitations of Biological Distance Models of Gene Flow in Ancient Human Populations. Annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. New Orleans, LA: American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
- Watson, J. T., Munoz, I., & Arriaza, B. (2017, April). Biocultural Evolution of the Oral Complex in Coastal Atacama and the Interplay of Selection, Plasticity, and Population Histories. Annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Vancouver, B.C., Canada: Society for American Archaeology.
- Haas, R., Watson, J. T., Viviano Llave, C., & Aldenderfer, M. (2016, June). A forager origin for artificial cranial modification in the Andes and its implications. Northeast Andean Meetings. Cambridge, MA: Northeast Andean Society.
- Watson, J. T. (2016, October). Taller de Antropología Dental. Seminario Aleš Hrdlička. Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Sonora.
- Watson, J. T., & Schmidt, C. (2016, April). Workshop on Dental Wear. Dental Anthropology Association annual meetings. Atlanta, GA: American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
- Crane, A., & Watson, J. T. (2017, October). The Interplay of Behavioral and Occlusal Etiologies in Aberrant Tooth Wear. Annual meeting of the Southwestern Association of Biological Anthropologists. San Diego, CA: Southwestern Association of Biological Anthropologists.
- Cajigas, R. M., Watson, J. T., & Pitezel, T. (2016, January 15). Anthropogenic Influences on Terrace Soil Development at Tumamoc Hill. Southwest Symposium.
- Rachel, C., Watson, J. T., Pitezel, T. A., Rachel, C., Watson, J. T., & Pitezel, T. A. (2016, January). Anthropogenic Influences on Terrace Soil Development at Tumamoc Hill. 15th Biennial Southwest Symposium. Tucson, AZ.
- Watson, J. T. (2017. Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums, by Samuel J. Redman(pp 119-120). The Public Historian.
- Watson, J. T. (2017. What Teeth Reveal About Human Evolution, by Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg(p. 38). Dental Anthropology.
- Villalpando Canchola, M. E., Carpenter, J. P., & Watson, J. T. (2017, July). Proyecto La Playa (SON:F:10:3) Informe 2016-2015. Archivo Técnico del INAH. México, D.F..
- Watson, J. T. (2017, July). Documentation of human skeletal remains from Los Pozos, AA:12:91 (ASM). In, Site Boundary Identification Testing in Northern Los Pozos, AZ AA:12:91 (ASM), for the Pima County Flood Control Drainage Channel Extension, Tucson, Pima County, Arizona. Technical Report No. 2016-08. Desert Archaeology, Inc., Tucson.