William A. Lovis

  • Professor, Department of Anthropology
  • Curator of Anthropology, MSU Museum
  • Editor, Midwest Archaeological Perspectives Book Series


E-31 McDonel Hall, inside E-37 McDonel Hall

Curriculum vitae

Research Interests

  • Hunter Gatherer Archaeology and Ethnography
  • The Transition to Horticulture
  • Applied Theory, Analytic Methods and Research Design
  • Human-Environment Interactions and Regional Taphonomy
  • Paleoenvironmental Change
  • Public Policy including Forensic Archaeology, Law Enforcement Training, and Repatriation
  • Great Lakes/Midwest and Europe

Biographical Info

Professor and Curator Lovis’ research explores the relationship between human economic adaptation and mobility and changing Holocene environments in both the Great Lakes region and northern England. His multidisciplinary perspective includes collaborative experiments on carbonized food residue formation and interpretation of resultant isotope signatures to track the transition from hunting and gathering to horticulture in the Great Lakes. He harbors a continuing interest in applied theory and method, especially as it relates to research design. Dr. Lovis is regularly engaged in issues of public policy, particularly surrounding repatriation at the national level as well as forensic applications including law enforcement training and human remains investigations.Dr. Lovis is currently engaged in multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research into the formation and preservation of stratified archaeological sites within the dynamic coastal dune settings of Lake Michigan. He recently completed a National Park Service grant to support this activity at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. He also continues to engage in research from a decade of fieldwork on Mesolithic sites in Yorkshire with colleagues at the University of Bradford. Dr. Lovis has held numerous elected and appointed offices in professional organizations, and is the recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Career Award from the Midwest Archaeological Conference. He recently accepted the position of inaugural Editor for the Midwest Archaeological Perspectives monograph series, co-sponsored by the Midwest Archaeological Conference, Inc. and the University Press of Notre Dame. Dr. Lovis performs a dual role as Curator of Anthropology at the MSU Museum, with oversight for Great Lakes/Michigan archaeological collections accessible to faculty and students for engaged research, teaching and curation experiences. Most recently, these collections were central to major geoarchaeological syntheses of data from southern Michigan floodplains and Lake Michigan coastal dunes by Dr. Lovis and his collaborators, resulting in predictive models for site burial and preservation, baseline paleoenvironmental information, and planning and heritage management frameworks. Professor Lovis currently advises four advanced doctoral students, will retire in August of 2018, and no longer accepts new advisees.

Current Research Projects

Great Lakes archaeological site taphonomy and preservation, collaborative with A. Arbogast (Geography), G. W. Monaghan (Indiana U-Purdue U), F. Telewski (Botany). Current field projects within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, keyed to paleoclimatic change.

Collaborative analysis with J. Hart (NYS Museum), K. Tache (Queens College), M. Raviele (US OPM), and others of carbonized food residues on ceramic vessels for assessment of Freshwater Reservoir Offset, diet and subsistence including the introduction of maize, as well as experimentally for residue formation.

Ongoing analyses of Mesolithic sites in Yorkshire with R. Donahue.

Student training in Portable X Ray Florescence analysis of elemental composition of ceramics and lithics, with T. Rooney (Geology).


Books, Monographs, Edited Journal Issues

Lovis, W.A. and R. Whallon (Co-Editor and Contributor) 2016. Marking the Land: Hunter-Gatherer Creation of Meaning in their Environment. Routledge, New York and London. (xiv+297 pp.,figures, references) (hbk ISBN 978-1-138-95099-3; ebk ISBN 978-1-315-66845-1)

Brouwer Burg, M., J.H.M. Peeters, and W.A. Lovis (Co-Editor and Contributor) 2016. Uncertainty and Sensitivity Analysis in Archaeological Computational Modeling. Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology. Springer International Publishing, New York. (xxv+267 pp, figures, references) (hbk ISBN 978-3-319-27831-5; ebk ISBN 978-3-319-27833-9)

Raviele, M.E. and W.A. Lovis (Co-Editor and Contributor). 2014. Reassessing the Timing, Rate andAdoption Trajectories of Domesticate Use in th Midwest and Great Lakes.  Occasional Papers, Volume 1.  Midwest Archaeological Conference, Inc. (iv+174 pp, figures, references) (ISSN 23729899)

Brashler, J.G. and W.A. Lovis  (Guest Co-Editor and Contributor). 2008 (published 2013).  The Tie that Binds: Essays in Honor of Margaret B. Holman. Special issue of The Michigan Archaeologist 54(1-4):1-224.  

Lovis, W.A., A.F. Arbogast and G.W. Monaghan.  2012.   The Geoarchaeology of Lake Michigan Coastal Dunes.  Environmental Research Series No. 2.  Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan State University Press, East Lansing.  (xvi+194 pp, figures, references, appendices) (hbk. ISBN 978-1-61186-051-1; ebook ISBN 978-1-60917-348-7)

Whallon, R., W.A. Lovis and R.K. Hitchcock (Co-Editor and Contributor).  2011.  Information and Its Role in Hunter-Gatherer Bands. Ideas, Debates and Perspectives 5.  Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, University of California – Los Angeles, Los Angeles.  (xvi+368 pp., 55 Figures and Plates, References)  (Paper ISBN 978-1-931745-64-2; hbk.  ISBN 978-1-931745-63-5)

Lovis, W. A., R. Whallon and R. E. Donahue (Guest Co-Editor and Contributor).  2006. Mesolithic Mobility, Exchange, and Interaction.  Special Issue of Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 25(2):175-274.  (i+99 pp., figures, tables, references) (ISSN 0278-4165)

Monaghan, G.W. and W. A. Lovis. 2005.  Modeling Archaeological Site Burial in Southern Michigan: A Geoarchaeological Synthesis. Environmental Research Series No. 1, Michigan Department of Transportation. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing. (v+278pp, CD-ROM)  (ISBN 0-87013-738-7)

Lovis, W.A. (Editor). 2004. An Upper Great Lakes Archaeological Odyssey: Essays in Honor of Charles E. Cleland. Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, MI. (xiv+247 pp) (ISBN 0-87737-045-1)

Selected Articles and Book Chapters Since 2013.

Lovis, W. A..  2018. Preserving Michigan’s Archaeological Heritage: A Cooperative Endeavor.  In Working with Responsible Private Collectors and Collections, edited by M. Shott, M. Seeman, and K. Nolan, pp. 21-28.  Occasional Papers, Volume 3.  Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, Midwest Archaeological Conference, Inc. (Digital Open Access Publication, Invited and Refereed ISSN 0146-1109)

Hart, J. P., K. Taché, and W. A. Lovis.  2018. Freshwater Reservoir Offsets and Food Crusts: Isotope, AMS, and Lipid Analyses of Experimental Cooking Residues.  PLOS ONE. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196407 (eISSN 1932-6203, Digital Open Access Publication).

Albert, R. K, S. A. Kooiman, C. A. Clark, W. A. Lovis.  2018.  Earliest Microbotanical Evidence for Maize in the Northern Lake Michigan Basin.  American Antiquity.  83(2):345–355. (ISSN 0002-7316)

Arbogast, A. F., M.  Luehmann, G. W. Monaghan, W.A. Lovis, H. Wang. 2017.  Paleoenvironmental and geomorphic significance of bluff-top dunes along the Au Sable River in Northeastern Lower Michigan, USA. Geomorphology 297:112-121. (ISSN: 0169-555X, eISSN: 1872-695X)

Carr, D. H. and W. A. Lovis.  2016. Standardization, Reliability, and Paleoindian Ovate Biface Production: A View From 20-CL-227, The Round Lake Site Cache, Clinton County, Michigan, USA.  Canadian Journal of Archaeology/ Journal Canadien d’Archéologie.  40(2):297-318. (ISSN 0705-2006)

Sauer, N. J., W. A. Lovis, J. Fillion, and M. E. Blumer. 2016. “The Contributions of Archaeology and Physical Anthropology to the John McRae Case: A Trial and a Retrial”.  In Forensic Archaeology, edited by L. Fibiger and D. Ubelaker .  Critical Concepts in Archaeology. Vol.4: 122-132. Routledge.  (ISBN10- 1138014249, ISBN13- 9781138014244*Reprinted from Hard Evidence: Case Studies in Forensic Anthropology (Second Edition), edited by D.W. Steadman, pp. 122-132. Prentice Hall.  2009. (ISBN 13: 978-13-030567-7)

Lovis, W. A.  2016. “Network Maintenance in Big Rough Spaces with Few People: The Labrador Innu-Naskapi or Montagnais”. In Marking the Land: Hunter-Gatherer Creation of Meaning in their Environment, edited by W.A. Lovis and R. Whallon, pp. 116-130.  Routledge/Taylor and Francis, New York and London.   (hbk ISBN 978-1-138-95099-3; eISBN 978-1-315-66845-1)

Lovis, W. A. and R. Whallon.  2016. “The Creation of Landscape Meaning by Mobile Hunters and Gatherers”.  In Marking the Land: Hunter-Gatherer Creation of Meaning in their Environment, edited by W.A. Lovis and R. Whallon, pp. 1-10.  Routledge/Taylor and Francis, New York and London.   (hbk ISBN 978-1-138-95099-3; eISBN 978-1-315-66845-1)

Whallon, R. and W. A. Lovis. 2016. “Hunter-Gatherer Landscape Perception and Landscape “Marking”; The Multidimensional Construction of Meaning”.  In Marking the Land: Hunter-Gatherer Creation of Meaning in their Environment, edited by W.A. Lovis and R. Whallon, pp. 276-286.  Routledge/Taylor and Francis, New York and London.   (hbk ISBN 978-1-138-95099-3; eISBN 978-1-315-66845-1)

Brouwer Burg, M, J. H. M. Peeters, and W. A. Lovis.  2016. “Introduction to Uncertainty and Sensitivity Analysis in Archaeological Computational Modeling.” In Uncertainty and Sensitivity Analysis in Archaeological Computational Modeling, edited by M. Brouwer Burg, J. H. M. Peeters, W. A. Lovis, pp. 1-20. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland. (hbk ISBN 978-3-319-27831-5; ebk ISBN 978-3-319-27833-9)

Lovis, W. A. 2016. “Is There a Research Design Role for Sensitivity Analysis (SA) in Archaeological Modeling?”  In Uncertainty and SensitivityAnalysis in Archaeological Computational Modeling, edited by M. Brouwer Burg, J.H.M. Peeters, and W. A. Lovis, pp. 21-36. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland.  (hbk ISBN 978-3-319-27831-5; ebk ISBN 978-3-319-27833-9)

Lovis, W. A. and J. P. Hart. 2015. “Fishing for Dog Food: Ethnographic and Ethnohistoric Insights on the Freshwater Reservoir in Northeastern North America”. In Proceedings of Radiocarbon and Diet: Aquatic Food Resources and Reservoir Effects, First International Conference, 24-26 September 2014, Kiel, Germany, edited by R. Fernandez, J. Meadows and A. Dreves. Radiocarbon: An International Journal of Cosmogenic Isotope Research 57(4):557-570 (Open Access, ISSN 0033-8222)

Upton, A. J., W. A. Lovis, and G. R. Urquhart. 2015. “An Empirical Test of Shell Tempering as an Alkaline Agent in the Nixtamalization Process”. Journal of Archaeological Science 62:39-44. (ISSN 0305-4403).

Hart, J. P. and W. A. Lovis. 2014. “A re-evaluation of the reliability of AMS dates on pottery food residues from the late prehistoric Central Plains of North America: Comment on Roper (2013)”.  Radiocarbon: An International Journal of Cosmogenic Isotope Research 56(1):341-353.  (ISSN 0033-8222; doi: 10.2458/56.16898)

Cook, R. A. and W. A. Lovis.  2014. “Lake Levels, Mobility, and Lithic Raw Material Selection and Reduction Strategies: A Great Lakes Case Study”.  Environmental Archaeology 19(1):55-71.  (ISSN 1461-4103; DOI 10.1179/1749631413Y.0000000001).

Hart, J. P., W.A. Lovis, G.R. Urquhart and E.A. Reber.  2013.  “Modeling Freshwater Reservoir Offsets on Radiocarbon Dated Charred Cooking Residues”.  American Antiquity 78(3):536-552.  (ISSN 0002-7316)

Hart, J. P. and W. A. Lovis. 2013. “Reevaluating What We Know About the Histories of Maize in Northeastern North America: A Review of Current Evidence”.  Journal of Archaeological Research 21(2):175-216. Springer.  (ISSN 1059-0161 print; 1573-7756 electronic; DOI 10.1007/s10814-012-9062-9)

Lovis, W. A.  “Revisiting the Johnson Site (20CN46): A Winter Camp in a Cedar Swamp on Mullett Lake, Michigan”.  2008 (published 2013). In The Tie that Binds: Essays in Honor of Margaret B. Holman , guest edited by J. G. Brashler and W. A. Lovis. The Michigan Archaeologist 54(1-4):73-92.  ( ISSN 0543-9728)

Lovis, W. A., G. W. Monaghan, A. F. Arbogast, and S. L. Forman. 2012.   “Differential Temporal and Spatial Preservation of Archaeological Sites in a Great Lakes Coastal Zone”. American Antiquity 77(3):591-608.  (ISSN 0002-7316)

Hart, J. P., W. A. Lovis, R. J. Jeske, and J. D. Richards.  2012.  “The Potential of Bulk δ13C on Encrusted Cooking Residues as Independent Evidence for Regional Maize Histories”. American Antiquity 77(2):315-325.   (ISSN 0002-7316)