William A. Lovis

  • Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology
  • Curator Emeritus of Anthropology, MSU Museum
  • Editor, Midwest Archaeological Perspectives Book Series
  • Associate, Lithic Microwear Research Laboratory, Microwear Associates, Ltd.


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 Emeritus Lovis continues his long-standing relationship with the Department of Anthropology. Lovis’ research explores the relationship between human economic adaptation and mobility, and changing Holocene environments in the Great Lakes region, northern England and Europe, primarily among hunter-gatherers and transitional horticulturalists. He brings a fundamentally interdisciplinary approach to this inquiry, primarily in concert with the biological and earth sciences, and is a strong proponent of ethnographic analogy to refine archaeological interpretation of early hunter-gatherers. Analytically, this 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, and with colleagues explores the taphonomy of Freshwater Reservoir Offsets and their effect on carbonized residue ages. He harbors an abiding interest in applied theory and method, especially as it relates to research design. Dr. Lovis has substantial experience in public policy, particularly surrounding repatriation nationally and internationally, as well as forensic applications including human remains investigations and law enforcement training. Dr. Lovis is currently engaged in multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research into the formation and preservation of stratified archaeological sites in alluvial contexts and within the dynamic coastal dune settings of Lake Michigan. He and colleagues recently completed a National Park Service grant to support this activity at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. He continues to engage in research from a decade of fieldwork on Mesolithic sites in Yorkshire with colleagues at The Lithic Microwear Research Laboratory, Leeds, UK, with which he is affiliated. 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 is the inaugural Editor (2017-2020) for the Midwest Archaeological Perspectives monograph series, co-sponsored by the Midwest Archaeological Conference, Inc. and the University Press of Notre Dame. Lovis and former teammates were recent Honorees of the New York University Athletic Hall of Fame on the 50th Anniversary of their NCAA National Fencing Championship. He recently completed the multiyear repatriation of a pre Columbian mummy to the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Professor and Curator Emeritus Lovis continues to work with several graduate students, and oversees student research in the Archaeological Science and Experimental Archaeology laboratory.

Current Research Projects

I am lead on the final multi-authored report for the Hipwater Parkhill Paleoindian Locale project, as well as on the interdisciplinary, inter-institutional analysis of data from a 500 year old Bolivian mummy. I am co-investigator on two geoarchaeological/geomorphological papers; an article related to research on sites under National Park Service management at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (with A. Arbogast and G. W. Monaghan), and a paper exploring potential northern hemispheric climate drivers for dune activation, (with A. Arbogast, G. W. Monaghan, and Z. Kilibarda). Finally, I am collaborating (with F. Telewski, S. Warner, and A. Arbogast) on establishing a dendrochronological and climate model for the upper Great Lakes region, documenting early Cucurbita pepo ssp. ovifera from the Detroit River (with K. Egan-Bruhy and D. Hayes), and analyzing a pair of modified wolf jaws from the Saginaw drainage. My personal research involves detailed analysis of Eleanor Leacock’s field notes from her 1950s work with the Montagnais/Naskapi of Labrador. I continue my collaborative English Mesolithic (with R. E. Donahue) and carbonized food residue research (with J. P. Hart).


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 2014.

Lovis, W. A. and D. H. Carr.  2018.  The Kennedy Paleoindian Biface: Late Paleoindian in the Northwestern Lake Michigan Basin.  The Wisconsin Archeologist 99(2):47-54. (ISSN 0043-6364)

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).