Dr Marisa Lazzari
I specialise in the archaeology of circulation and social interaction in the south-central Andes, with a particular focus in north-western Argentina. I look at ancient regional connections and how these shaped landscapes over the long-term, through the analysis of artefacts and materials traditionally studied separately, such as obsidian and pottery. My research combines technological analysis of stone tools, sourcing studies of raw materials (lithics and clays), and intra-site and regional distributions of artefacts in order to explore the cultural taxonomies that organised and assessed the value of things and materials in the past.
I also undertake interdisciplinary research on indigenous contemporary struggles for recognition in the field of cultural heritage. Combining archaeological, anthropological, social theory and material culture perspectives, this strand of my research explores identities as socio-material networks embedded in particular landscapes with long-term histories.
I am currently the director of the Centre for the Archaeology of the Americas, and a board member in the newly created Community for the Archaeology of the Americas iin the European Association of Archaeologists:
The archaeology of circulation in the south-central Andes
I investigate social interaction and the exchange of goods as components of a wider field of social practices, the sphere of circulation of tangible and intangible materials and things. I consider these practices as they unfold over the long term, weaving people, places, things and other species and beings in unique social landscapes.
My work focuses on the south-central Andes and north-western Argentina in particular, investigating long-term trends in the technology, consumption, and distribution of lithic tools and raw materials (stone and clay primarily). I study these materials in the context of other kinds of archaeological evidence, such as ceramic iconography, and the intra-site and regional material patterns connected to everyday life in the past. This approach allows the exploration of ancient circulation practices, focusing on mobile artefacts as mediators in the weaving of landscapes as both real and imagined spaces.
Provenance studies and social archaeology
My research programme integrates geochemical sourcing methods of stone tools and pottery within social archaeology interpretive frameworks. The programme focuses on identifying the geochemical fingerprints of archaeological lithics and ceramics from NW Argentina through INAA, XRF, and LA-ICP-MS, and combining these results with petrography, technological analysis, and archaeological contextual analysis. The latter tasks are conducted in collaboration with the PASCAL research project, based at IDECU (Buenos Aires, Argentina), as well as researchers based at the University of Tucumán (Argentina). Dr Glascock (Archaeometry Laboratory, MURR, University of Missouri) and his team have conducted geochemical analysis of our archaeological materials since the mid 90's.
AHRC Early Career grant (2011-2013) A social landscape without a centre: the circulation of materials and skills in NW Argentina (First millennium AD).
British Academy Small Research Grants (2009-10) Ancient social networks of North Western Argentina: The provenance of obsidian and pottery in early sedentary communities (First millennium AD).
Instituto de las Culturas (IDECU), CONICET-Universidad de Buenos Aires
Instituto de Arqueología y Museo, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán (International Research Associate)
MURR Archaeometry, University of Missouri
Materiality, social landscapes, heritage, identities
This research explores issues of materiality, landscape and cultural heritage that are at the heart of contemporary Indigenous identity in north-western Argentina. The project started as a comparative approach to this topic through the exploration of different contemporary case studies in Argentina and Australia, and is currently focused on the Argentinean case.
Two workshops have been organised to facilitate this network, the first one at the University of Tucumán, Argentina (April 2011) and the second one at the University of Exeter (September 2011). More information on this project can be found here:
Funding: AHRC Research Networking Scheme (2011-12) Identities as socio-material networks: past and present configurations in South America and beyond.
Instituto de Arqueología y Museo, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina
Related recent funding:
Geneva-Exeter Collaborative Seed Grant initiative 2021, UK PI Lazzari, Gen PI Peter Larsen: Pathways towards collaborative approaches to indigenous and minority cultural heritage and landscape sustainability.
QUEX Institute, Initiator Grant. 2018. PI M Lazzari, CI Prof Ian Lilley (Queensland), Living pasts, open futures: developing transnational collaboration on cultural heritage, identities and landscape sustainability.
GCRF Project and Partnership Development Fund, IIB, University of Exeter. 2018. Living with water: challenging water insecurity in the Andean-Amazonian region, PI M Lazzari, CI: Prof R Howard, University of Newcastle..
Open Innovation Platform, Collaboration Fund, IIB, University of Exeter. 2017-18. Tangible pasts: developing new user-led heritage products for local communities in rural NW Argentina. PI: M Lazzari, CIs. M A Korstanje (IAM-UNT-ISES-CONICET, Argentina).
My archaeological work in NW Argentina is conducted within the wider framework of the PASCAL project (Proyecto Arqueológico Sur Calchaquí), directed by Prof. María Cristina Scattolin, which is based at the Instituto de las Culturas (CONICET-U of Buenos Aires). This program of work is funded by the Raíces Program of the Argentinean National Agency for Science and Technology (ANPCyT) and by the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET). I am affiliated to IDECU as non-permanent member.
I am also an international research associate at the Instituto de Arqueología y Museo, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina.
My latest research projects can be found here:
I am able to supervise research on archaeological and contemporary material culture studies, South-American archaeology, social theory and archaeology, pottery and lithics sourcing studies, technology, heritage and material culture, past and present cultural and social landscapes.
Current PhD Students (as first supervisor)
James Glover Chipped-stone technology and social diversity within Mesolithic communities: building a methodology to establish how the lithic chaîne opératoire is a technical performance of identity. (with L Hurcombe)
Francesco Orlandi Barbabo: Heritage Cosmopolitics: Archaeology, Indigeneity and Rights in Bolivia and Argentina. (with L Hurcombe ).
Adrian Oyaneder Rodriguez Pre-Hispanic landscape of the Camarones river valley (Chile): The study of a long-term human occupation (with I Oltean.
Completed at Exeter (as first supervisor)
Carlos Salgado (2017). Intra-regional strategies and interregional dynamics: A study of pottery production in prehispanic Colima, Mexico (500-1000 CE). (with H.Herold).
Nada Kreisheh (2013). The acquisition of flintknapping skill: an experimental study. (with B Bradley).
My fieldwork practice takes place in the southern Calchaqui valleys area of NW Argentina, with a focus on the Aconquija Mountains, the southern Cajon Valley and more peripherally with the El Bolson Valley. I collaborate with the PASCAL team, led by Lic Maria Cristina Scattolin (IDECU-CONICET-UBA and UNLP) and the Bolson team led by Dr Maria Alejandra Kortanje (IAM-UNT-ISES). Both teams focus on the development of village settlements in the first millennium AD, part of what is known in NWA's chronology as the the Formative and Middle periods, looking at the constitution of communities through local and regional practices of interaction and habitation through a multidisciplinary approach involving artefactual, architectural, landscape, and palaeoenvironmental data. Both teams also undertake extensive outreach work with stakeholder communities, with projects oriented to supporting educational and local museum practice and developing local crafts, traditional knowledge, and skills.
My fieldwork also involves heritage research in this area. In collaboration with Dr Alejandra Korstanje, we examine the various competing aesthetics that have sprouted in recent years acoss the region through multi-sited qualitative methods combining place-based conversations, observations, and community meetings.
External impact and engagement
In 2007, I co-organized the “First Meeting of Community and Academic Cultural Heritage Managers”, Quilmes, Tucumán, Argentina, in collaboration with the Institute of Archaeology and Museum (U. of Tucumán), Comunidad India de Quilmes, and the Provincial Culture Entity of Tucumán (July 10-11).
This experience lead to the design of the Research Networking Grant awarded by AHRC in 2010, which provided the framework for both academic and community activities related to contemporary indigenous claims around archaeological heritage in NW Argentina.
More information can be found here:
Contribution to discipline
Archaeology of the Americas in Europe
I am a member of the working party that organised and sought approval for the creation of a Community on the Archaeology of the Americas within the European Assocaition of Archeologists.
We had our launching session at the 2021 EAA conference in Kiehl, Germany entitled ‘Tracing the past, charting the future: exploring archaeological research collaboration between the Americas and Europe.’
Developing multi-modal approaches to archeology research, education and communication
in 2013 I co-organised the workshop "Archaeology of the Formative period in Argentina: a meeting to integrate areas and sub-disciplines, review concepts and enhance current research impact", with Dr Alejandra Korstanje and colleagues at the Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Universty of Tucuman. Tafí del Valle, Tucumán, Argentina, 11-13 April.
The papers presented were published in a peer-reviewed Open Access book with the sponsorship of the Sociedad Argentina de Antropología. The book is the first synthetic overview of NW Argentina's Formative period created in decades, coombining critical revisions with the latest research by leading teams working in the area. The book can be accessed here:
This book fed into the development of an Open Access educational resource in collaboration with the Society for Argentinean Anthropology, with support from an IIB Open Innovation Platform, Collaboration fund:
Peer review and referee activities
Journals: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute; Journal of Social Archaeology; World Archaeology; International Journal of Heritage Studies; Journal of Archeological Science; Quarternary International; Cambridge Archaeological Journal; Rendiconti Lincei; Chungara-Revista de Antropologia Chilena; Intersecciones (Journal of the University of Olavarría, Argentina); Arqueologia (Revista ICA-UBA); Anales de Arqueologia; Cuadernos del INAPL (Journal of the Institute of Anthropology, Secretary of Culture, Argentina); Arqueología Sur/Sudamericana.
Books: Procesos Sociales Prehispánicos en los Andes Meridionales (Nielsen et al. eds, U. of Jujuy Press, Argentina); Physical, chemical and biological indicators in Argentine archaeology: theory, methods and applications, BAR International series (Kligmann, D & M. Morales, eds).
Grants: National Fund for Scientific and Technological Research (FONCyT, ANPCyT Argentina); National Council for Science and Technology (CONICYT-Chile); Marie Curie Fellowships.
The first workshop organised under the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Networking Grant (UK) “Identities as socio- material networks: past and present configurations in South America and beyond" took place in Horco-Molle, Tucumán, Argentina, 28-29 April 2011.
The workshop lasted 2 days, in which six discussion sessions covered a wide variety of topics from the Americas, the UK and Australia. Presentations were made by archaeologists, historians, anthropologists and heritage studies scholars from Argentina, Australia, UK, and France. We were lucky to have an enthusiastic audience of colleagues and students that shared their views in the final plenary discussion. The workshop was covered by the provincial press:
- ARC1010 - Themes in World Archaeology
- ARC1040 - Artefacts and Materials
- ARC2120 - Things and Us: Ancient and Contemporary Material Culture
- ARC2124 - Giving and Taking: Anthropology and Archaeology of Circulation and Exchange
- ARC3120 - Things and Us: Ancient and Contemporary Material Culture
- ARC3124 - Giving and Taking: Anthropology and Archaeology of Circulation and Exchange
- ARC3608 - Archaeology and Social Anthropology
- ARCM110 - Research Design in Archaeology
- ARCM120 - Themes in Archaeological Theory and Practice
- ARCM300 - Material Culture
I obtained my doctoral degree from the Anthropology department at Columbia University, New York in 2006, funded by a Fulbright scholarship, Columbia University, the Gillian Lindt Trust, and Fundación Antorchas. My dissertation “Travelling things and the production of social spaces: An archaeological study of circulation and value in north-western Argentina”, combined archaeological and anthropological approaches and for the understanding of pre-Columbian social landscapes in north-western Argentina during the first millennium AD.
My earlier studies include a Licenciada degree in Anthropological Sciences, specialty Archaeology, at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), Argentina (1995), and a Master’s degree at the University of Southampton funded by a Fundación Antorchas-British Council scholarship (1998). Upon completing my Master’s, I was a Research fellow at Argentina’s research council (CONICET), where I undertook comparative analysis of the stone tool assemblages of early sedentary and mobile groups in the valleys and highland areas of north-western Argentina until I started the doctoral programme at Columbia.
Prior to joining the Department of Archaeology at Exeter, I was an Endeavour Award postdoctoral fellow (Australian Department of Education) at the Centre for Trans/forming cultures (University of Technology Sydney), where I undertook comparative studies on cultural heritage in South American and Australia. I was also a visiting lecturer in the Cultural and Social Anthropology department at Stanford University during the Spring term of 2006.
Membership of societies and professional bodies
European Association of Archaeology; Royal Anthropological Insitute; Asociación Arqueólogos Profesionales de la República Argentina (AAPRA); World Archaeological Congress (WAC)
IAOS (International Association of Obsidian Studies)