Faculty and Staff

John Douglas

John Douglas


Email: john.douglas@umontana.edu
Office: Social Science 233
Office Hours:

Fall 2021: I am teaching two online classes (ANTY 250 and 351) and working remotely from Arizona to conduct research. No regular office hours, however, I am happy to meet with students, potential students, and colleagues on your schedule. Please email me with a couple of times that work for you, and we will set a phone or Zoom meeting.

Spring 2022: Teaching face-to-face, office hours in SS  233 TBA. 

Personal Website
Curriculum Vitae

Current Position

Professor, Department of Anthropology; Member, Latin American Studies



Personal Summary

John Douglas is an anthropological archaeologist with diverse experiences and interests. He began teaching at The University of Montana in 1991, after earning a doctorate at the University of Arizona in 1990. His long-standing areas of expertise are the native people and prehistory of northwest Mexico and the U.S. Southwest. He has been a pioneer in examining the archaeology of northeast Sonora and southeast Arizona in the context of late prehistoric social complexity, particularly in considering the effects of the site of Paquimé in northwest Chihuahua on these areas west of the Continental Divide. More broadly, one of the major transformations of the human condition was the development of hierarchical societies, and Douglas' research addresses that topic.  The hierarchical society centered at Paquimé is one of the three most important in the U.S. Southwest-Northwest Mexico (the others being Chaco Canyon and the Hohokam). Much of John Douglas' research on the region focuses on interactions and exchange systems between societies of varying scales in the region, addressing questions of how "cores" and "peripheries" emerge in agricultural societies. 

Another area of research is the Classic Maya southern lowlands. Sparked by a long-standing interest and related experiences in Mesoamerica, including regularly teaching a course on the region and a 1994 faculty exchange to Belize, he began co-teaching an archaeological field school in Belize at the Mayan center of Cahal Pech in 2011, completing the fieldwork in 2019.  The field school, which was held during the University of Montana's winter session break, was offered in conjunction with the Belize Valley Archeological Reconnaissance, a Belizean research group. He has a continuing interest in the transformations that occurred in the upper Belize Valley at the end of the Classic Period, the Terminal Classic.

Additionally, John Douglas has participated in a range of other archaeological undertakings. From 1988 to 2009, he participated in fieldwork and analyses for the lower Amazon Basin Project, working with sites ranging from the Paleoindian period to protohistoric chiefdoms in Brazil. From 2000 to 2001, he co-taught a field school at the historic mining town of Virginia City, Montana while developing a preservation plan. John has also been part of excavation and survey teams in California, Washington, a Neanderthal site in southwest France, and a stone age site in the Congo Basin.

His current research in the region extends his northern Mexico research by examining the historical archaeological and documentary evidence to reevaluate the Spanish Colonial transition in present-day northwest Chihuahua. This research, currently based on library and museum resources, was begun during a fall 2021 sabbatical, takes a new look at the events and people of the Casas Grandes Valley after the abandonment of the site of Paquimé. Specifically, he is reexamining the origins of the Native Suma people of the Valley.

Douglas' methodological skills include field mapping at various scales and GIS map creation, analyzing radiocarbon dates, and the analysis of chipped stone, prehistoric ceramics, and historic artifacts. Topical interests include regional systems and exchange, identifying and understanding social organization and scale from the archaeological record, and chronology building. He teaches a variety of method and theory courses as well as regional archaeology courses covering North America and Mesoamerica. Finally, he works with anthropology graduate students as an advisor or as a committee member on a large range of archaeological topics, both within his research focus and outside.


University of Arizona, Tucson 1990 Ph.D. in Anthropology

University of Arizona, Tucson 1982 M.A. in Anthropology

California State University, Fullerton 1978 B.A. in Anthropology

Home Department

Department of Anthropology 

Area of Expertise

Archaeology; Northern Mexico and U.S. Southwest Prehistory; Trade and Exchange


ANTY 250S     Introduction to Archaeology (spring semester classroom, autumn semester online)

ANTY 351H   North American Archaeology (online autumn semester)

ANTY 354H    Mesoamerican Prehistory (odd-numbered years, spring semester)

ANTY 455     Artifact Analysis (even-numbered years, spring semester)

International Experience

  • Belize (University of Belize, Belize City), as exchange professor and supervising archaeological excavation/field school in San Igancio, Cayo District
  • Mexico (Sonora), as co-Principle Investigator archaeological survey and excavation
  • Brazil (Pará), as Fulbright supported archaeology instructor and specialist/consultant
  • France (Charente) as Excavation Director / Computer Mapping Specialist
  • Central African Republic (Sangha) archaeology specialist/consultant

Selected Publications

2021 (J.E. Douglas, B.L. MacDonald, C.E. Ebert, J.J. Awe, L.Dussubieux, and C.E. Klesner) Fade to Black: The implications of Mount Maloney Black pottery from a Terminal Classic deposit, Cahal Pech, Belize, using a comparative multi-method compositional approach. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Vol. 35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102666

2020 (J.J. Awe, C.E. Ebert, J.A. Hoggarth, J.J. Aimers, C. Helmke, J. Douglas, and W.J. Stemp). “The Last Hurrah: Examining the Nature of Peri-Abandonment Deposits And Activities At Cahal Pech, Belize.” Ancient Mesoamerica, 31, 175-187doi:10.1017/S0956536119000233

2016 (J. Douglas and A. MacWilliams) “Casas Grandes and Its More Distant Neighbors.” In Discovering Paquimé, edited by Paul E. Minnis and Michael E. Whalen, pp. 47-52. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

2015 “Prior Probabilities and Explicit Assumptions in Paleoindian Chronology Building.” In Explorations in Behavioral Archaeology, edited by William Walker and James M. Skibo, pp. 22-36. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

2016 (J. Douglas and A. MacWilliams) “Society and Polity in the Wider Casas Grandes Region.” In Ancient Paquimé and the Casas Grandes World, edited by Paul E. Minnis and Michael E. Whalen, pp. 126-148. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

2015 (J. Douglas, L Brown, and J. Awe) “The Final Occupation: The Terminal Classic Evidence from Plaza H, Cahal Pech, Belize” In Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology, Vol. 12, pp. 217-225.

2011 (A.C. Roosevelt, J. Douglas, and others) Early New World Monumentality, Edited by R.L. Burger and R.M. Rosenswig, p. 255-288, University of Florida Press, Gainesville.

2007 “Making and Breaking Boundaries in the Hinterlands: The Social and Settlement Dynamics of Far Southeastern Arizona and Southwestern New Mexico.” In Hinterlands and Regional Dynamics in the Ancient Southwest, edited by Alan P. Sullivan III and James M. Bayman, pp. 97-108. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

2004 “A Reinterpretation of the Occupational History of the Pendleton Ruin, New Mexico.” Journal of Field Archaeology 29 (3-4):425-436. 

2002 (A. Roosevelt, J. Douglas, and L. Brown) “The Migrations and Adaptations of the First Americans: Clovis and Pre-Clovis Views from South America.” In The First Americans: The Pleistocene Colonization of the New World, edited by N. G. Jablonski, pp. 159-223. Wattis Symposium Volume 4, Memoirs of the California of Sciences, No. 27. Academy