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Anthropology | Tim A. Kohler

Ph.D., University of Florida
Regents Professor Emeritus
Archaeology and Evolutionary Anthropology

Kohler applies method and theory from the study of complex adaptive systems to the study of prehistoric societies. He received his A.B. in General Studies from New College of Sarasota, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Anthropology from the University of Florida. His dissertation research on Weeden Island societies involved sampling the McKeithen village in North Florida. Since arriving at WSU, he has increasingly specialized in Southwestern archaeology. In the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, he collaborated with William D. Lipe on the Dolores Archaeological Program in southwestern Colorado. Since then, he has directed excavations in Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, and coordinated the interdisciplinary NSF Coupled Natural & Human Systems-funded “Village Ecodynamics Project”to understand the causes for changes in settlement systems in the eastern Southwest between A.D. 600 and 1760. He is a Research Associate at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Cortez, and an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico.

Much of his work involves quantitative analysis of archaeological data or simulation of aspects of prehistoric behavior. He is especially interested in cooperative behavior, wealth inequalities and their consequences, reciprocity, and other processes with evolutionary implications in Neolithic societies, and large-scale patterning in prehistoric societies. In April 2004 he completed a four-year term as editor of American Antiquity. For a decade he also served on the Board of Directors of Digital Antiquity, an initiative to aggregate and preserve archaeological digital data and make it broadly accessible. His current research (with ASU, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, and UIUC) includes the SKOPE project  to make interpreted paleoenvironmental data widely accessible, and an NSF IBSS-funded project (with researchers at the Santa Fe Institute) to analyze information flows in human organizations.  With Amy Bogaard, University of Oxford, he directs the Global Dynamics of Inequality Project (GINI), which is run through the Center for Collaborative Synthesis in Archaeology at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

In 2010 he was recognized by the SAA with its Award for Excellence in Archaeological Analysis, and in 2014 the AAA honored him with its Alfred Vincent Kidder Award for Eminence in the Field of American Archaeology. He is a Fellow of the AAAS and a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences and of the National Academy of Sciences. He was in residence as an Invited Scholar at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto for most of Fall Semester 2019, and served as the Johanna-Mestorf-Chair at  Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany, in Fall 2021 in association with the ROOTS project. In Spring 2023 he is serving as a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Archaeology, University of Durham (UK).

Representative Publications

2024  Bogaard, A. et al.  The Global Dynamics of Inequality (GINI) project: analysing archaeological housing data, Antiquity, 98(397), p. e6. doi:10.15184/aqy.2023.188

2024  Gillreath-Brown, A., Bocinsky, R. K., & Kohler, T. A.  A low-frequency summer temperature reconstruction for the United States Southwest, 3000 BC–AD 2000. The Holocene

2023 Scheffer, Marten, Egbert H. van Nes, Luke Kemp, Timothy A. Kohler, Timothy M. Lenton and Chi Xu Vulnerability of Aging States, a survival analysis across pre-modern societies. PNAS 120(48):e2218834120. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2218834120

2023  Kohler, Timothy A., Darcy Bird, R. Kyle Bocinsky, Kelsey Reese, and Andrew Gillreath-Brown. Wealth inequality in the prehispanic northern US Southwest: from Malthus to Tyche.  PTRSB 20220298.

2023  Kohler, Timothy A., R. Kyle Bocinsky and Darcy Bird. Fluctuat nec mergitur: Seven Centuries of Pueblo Crisis and Resilience. In How Worlds Collapse: What History, Systems, and Complexity Can Teach Us about Our Modern World and Fragile Future, edited by M. Centeno, P. W. Callahan, P. Larcey, and T. Patterson, pp. 146-166. Routledge, New York.

2022  Kemp, Luke, Chi Xu, Joanna Depledge, Kristi Ebi, Goodwin Gibbons, Timothy A. Kohler + 5 others  Climate Endgame: A Research Agenda for Exploring Catastrophic Climate Change Scenarios. PNAS 119 (34) e2108146119

2022  Kohler, Timothy A., Darcy Bird, and David H. Wolpert. Social Scale and Collective Computation: Does Information Processing Limit Rate of Growth in Scale? Journal of Social Computing 3(1):1-17 DOI: 10.23919/JSC.2021.0020.

2021  Kohler, Timothy A. Public Architecture and Power in Pre-Columbian North America. In Methods, Mounds, and Missions: New Contributions to Florida Archaeology, edited by Ann S. Cordell and Jeffrey M. Mitchem, pp. 122-146. University of Florida Press, Gainesville.

2021  Scheffer, Marten, Egbert H. van Nes, Darcy Bird, R. Kyle Bocinsky, and Timothy A. Kohler. Loss of resilience preceded transformations of pre-Hispanic Pueblo societies. PNAS Vol. 118 No. 18 e2024397118.

2021  Timothy M. Lenton, Timothy A. Kohler, Pablo A. Marquet, Richard A. Boyle, Michel Crucifix, David M. Wilkinson, and Marten Scheffer.  Survival of the Systems. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, April 2021, Vol. 36, No. 4.

2020 Kohler, Timothy A. and Marcy Rockman. The IPCC: A Primer for Archaeologists. American Antiquity 85(4): 627–651.

2020  Jaeweon Shin, Michael Holton Price, David H. Wolpert, Hajime Shimao, Brendan Tracey, and Timothy A. Kohler. Scale and information-processing thresholds in Holocene social evolution. Nature Communications: 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16035-9

2020  Chi Xu (徐驰), Timothy A. Kohler, Timothy M. Lenton, Jens-Christian Svenning, and Marten Scheffer, Future of the human climate niche. PNAS Visualization  Podcast

2019   Laura J. Ellyson, Timothy A. Kohler, and Catherine M. Cameron, How far from Chaco to Orayvi? Quantifying inequality among Pueblo households. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 55: 101073.

Ten Thousand Years of Inequality2018  Timothy A. Kohler and Michael E. Smith, editors, Ten Thousand Years of Inequality: The Archaeology of Wealth Differences. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

2017  Timothy A. Kohler, Michael E. Smith, Amy Bogaard, Gary M. Feinman et al., Greater post-Neolithic wealth disparities in Eurasia than in North America and Mesoamerica. Nature 551:619-623.

2016  Jade d’Alpoim Guedes, Stefani A. Crabtree, R. Kyle Bocinsky, and Timothy A. Kohler, 21st-Century Approaches to Ancient Problems: Climate and Society. PNAS 113:14483-14491.

2016  Timothy A. Kohler and Rebecca Higgins, Quantifying Household Inequality in Early Pueblo Villages. Current Anthropology 57(5):690-697.

2016  R. Kyle Bocinsky, Johnathan Rush, Keith W. Kintigh, and Timothy A. Kohler, Exploration and Exploitation in the Macrohistory of the Prehispanic Pueblo Southwest. Science Advances 2, e1501532. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501532.

2016  D. M. Schwindt, R. K. Bocinsky, S. G. Ortman, D. M. Glowacki, M. D. Varien, and T. A. Kohler, The Social Consequences of Climate Change in the Central Mesa Verde Region. American Antiquity 81(1):74-96.

2015 Keith Kintigh, Jeffrey H. Altschul, Ann P. Kinzig, Timothy Kohler, W. Fredrick Limp, William K. Michener, Jeremy A. Sabloff, Edward J. Hackett, Bertram Ludäscher, and Clifford A. Lynch. (2015). Cultural Dynamics, Deep Time, and Data: Planning Cyberinfrastructure Investments for Archaeology. Advances in Archaeological Practice 3(1): 1-15. DOI: 10.7183/2326-3768.3.1.1

2014 Timothy A. Kohler,  Scott G. Ortman, Katie E. Grundtisch, Carly M. Fitzpatrick, and Sarah M. Cole  The Better Angels of Their Nature: Declining Violence Through Time among Prehispanic Farmers of the Pueblo Southwest. American Antiquity 79(3): 444–464.

2014 Keith W. Kintigh, Jeffrey H. Altschul, Mary C. Beaudry, Robert D. Drennan, Ann P. Kinzig, Timothy Kohler, W. Fredrick Limp, Herbert D.G. Maschner, William K. Michener, Timothy R. Pauketat, Peter Peregrine, Jeremy A. Sabloff, Tony J. Wilkinson, Henry T. Wright, and Melinda A. Zeder. Forum: Grand Challenges for Archaeology. American Antiquity 79(1):5-24.

2014 Timothy A. Kohler and  Kelsey M. Reese A Long and Spatially Variable Neolithic Demographic Transition in the North American Southwest. PNAS (early edition).

2014 R. Kyle Bocinsky, Timothy Kohler. A 2,000-year reconstruction of the rain-fed maize agricultural niche in the US Southwest. Nature Communications 5:5618. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6618.

2013 How the Pueblos got their Sprachbund. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 20:212-234.

2012 Timothy A. Kohler, Denton Cockburn, Paul L. Hooper, R. Kyle Bocinsky, and Ziad Kobti The Coevolution of Group Size and Leadership: An Agent-Based Public Goods Model for Prehispanic Pueblo Societies. Advances in Complex Systemskohler book cover15(1&2):1150007.

2012 Timothy A. Kohler and Mark D. Varien  Emergence and Collapse of Early Villages: Models of Central Mesa Verde Archaeology. University of California Press, Berkeley

2011 William J. McConnell, James D. A. Millington, Nicholas J. Reo, Marina Alberti, Heidi Asbjornsen, Lawrence A. Baker, Nicholas Brozović, Laurie E. Drinkwater, Scott A. Drzyzga, José Fragoso, Daniel S. Holland, Claire A. Jantz, Timothy Kohler, Herbert D. G. Maschner, Michael Monticino, Guillermo Podestá, Robert Gilmore Pontius, Jr., Charles L. Redman, David Sailor, Gerald Urquhart, and Jianguo Liu. (2011). Research on Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS): Approach, Challenges, and Strategies. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America April: 218-228.

2259_tn2010 Timothy A. Kohler, Mark Varien and Aaron Wright Leaving Mesa Verde: Peril and Change in the Thirteenth-century Southwest. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

2008 Timothy A. Kohler, Matt Glaude, Jean-Pierre Bocquet-Appel, and Brian M. Kemp The Neolithic Demographic Transition in the U.S. Southwest.American Antiquity 73:645-669.

2008 Timothy A. Kohler, Mark Varien, Aaron Wright, and Kristin Kuckleman Mesa Verde Migrations. American Scientist 96: 146-153.

5162U628qhL._SX200_ (1)2007
Timothy A. Kohler, with Sander van der Leeuw Model-Based Archaeology of Socionatural Systems. SAR Press, Santa Fe.

2007 Varien, Mark D., Scott G. Ortman, Timothy Kohler, Donna M. Glowacki, and C. David Johnson. Historical Ecology in the Mesa Verde Region: Results From The Village Project. American Antiquity 72:273-299.

2006 Timothy A. Kohler, R.G. Matson Tracking Ancient Footsteps: William D. Lipe’s Contributions to Southwestern Prehistory and Public Archaeology.Washington State 9780874222906University Press.

2006 Kohler, Timothy and Kathryn Kramer Turner. Raiding for Women in the Prehispanic Northern Pueblo Southwest? A Pilot Examination. Current Anthropology 47:1035-1045.

2005 Timothy A. Kohler, George Gumerman and Robert Reynolds Simulating Ancient Societies: Computer Modeling is Helping to Unravel the Archaeological Mysteries of the American Southwest. Scientific American. July:76-83.

2004 Timothy A. Kohler, Stephanie VanBuskirk and Samantha Ruscavage-Barz Vessels and Villages: Evidence for Conformist Transmission in Early Village Aggregations on the Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. 23:100-118.


2004 (editor) Archaeology of Bandelier National Monument, New 51BAY5T6RBL._SX380_BO1,204,203,200_Mexico: Village Formation on the Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

2003 Janssen, Marco A., Timothy A. Kohler, and Marten Scheffer. (2003). Sunk-Cost Effects Made Ancient Societies Vulnerable to Collapse. Current Anthropology 44:722-728. (Preprinted as SFI 02-02-007.)

2000 (editor, with G. Gumerman) Dynamics in Human and Primate Societies: Agent-based Modeling of Social and Spatial Presses. Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity. Oxford University Press, New York.

1998 Kohler, Timothy, Meredith Matthews. (1988). Long-term Anasazi Land-Use Patterns and Forest Reduction: A Case Study from Southwest Colorado. American Antiquity 53:537–564.

1996 Timothy A. Kohler, Carla Van West The Calculus of Self Interest in the Development of Cooperation: Sociopolitical Development and Risk Among the Northern Anasazi. In Evolving Complexity and Environment: Risk in the Prehistoric Southwest, edited by Joseph A. and Bonnie Bagley Tainter, pp. 171–198. Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity, Proceedings Vol. XXVI. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.

1992 Fieldhouses, Villages, and the Tragedy of the Commons in the Early Northern Anasazi Southwest. American Antiquity 57:617–635.

1987 Kohler, Timothy A. and G. Michael Johnson. Toward a Better Understanding of North Peninsular Gulf Coast Florida Prehistory: Archaeological Reconnaissance in Dixie County, Florida. Florida Anthropologist, 40:4, 275-286.

1984 Kohler, Timothy A. Behavioral Correlates of Population Growth: A speculative example from the Middle Chattahoochee. Southeastern Archaeology 3(2):153-163.

1984 Timothy A. Kohler, J. T. Milanich and others McKeithen Weeden Island: The Culture of Northern Florida, A.D. 200–900. Academic Press, New York.

1980 Kohler, Timothy A. and Sarah Schlanger. Surface Estimation of Site Structure and Content, Dolores Project. Contract Abstracts and CRM Archaeology, 1(2), 29-32.

Meet Dr. Kohler’s Recent and Current Graduate Students

Darcy Bird
Doctoral Student

Kyle Bocinsky
Director of the Research Institute
at the Crow Canyon Archaeological
Research Associate, Montana Climate Office, Univ. of Montana.

Stefani Crabtree
Department of Environment
& Society, College of Natural
Resources, Utah State University

Laura Ellyson
PhD Anthropology

Andrew Gillreath-Brown
PhD Anthropology



Contact Information

College Hall 396