Staff profiles

Photo of Dr Marisa Lazzari

Dr Marisa Lazzari

Senior Lecturer


01392 725329

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.

Research interests

The archaeology of circulation in the south-central Andes

I look at social interaction and the exchange of goods as components of what is considered a wider field of social practices, namely the sphere of circulation. My work focuses on the south-central Andes and north-western Argentina in particular, looking at long-term trends in the technology, consumption, and distribution of lithic tools and raw materials (obsidian and others). I consider 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

I am developping a research programme that integrates geochemical sourcing methods of obsidian and pottery within social archaeology interpretive frameworks. The programme focuses on identifying the geochemical fingerprints of archaeological lithics and ceramics from NW Argentina through Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis, 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 the Museo Etnográfico “J.B. Ambrosetti” (Buenos Aires, Argentina), as well as researchers based at the University of Tucumán (Argentina). Dr Glascock (MURR, University of Missouri) and his team conduct the geochemical analysis of archaeological materials.


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).


Museo Etnográfico 'Juan B. Ambrosetti', Universidad de Buenos Aires

Instituto de Arqueología y Museo, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán (International Research Associate)

MURR Archaeometry, University of Missouri

Materiality, landscapes, and heritage

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.

A new stage is currently underway, expnding the initial concerns to develop an international research network on identity, materiality and archaeological practice. 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.

Partner Institution: Instituto de Arqueología y Museo, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina

Research collaborations

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 Museo Etnografico "Juan B. Ambrosetti', University 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 also an international research associate at the Instituto de Arqueología y Museo, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina. This institute was the partner institution in the AHRC-funded Research Networking Grant (UK) “Identities as socio- material networks: past and present configurations in South America and beyond.” February 2011-April 2012. We continue to collaborate on publication and design of research funding initiatives connected to regional archaeology and heritage issues in NW Argentina, particularlly with Dr Maria Alejandra (see Publications)



Research supervision

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.

Research students

Current PhD students:


Carlos Salgado-Ceballos: Interpreting regional strategies and interregional dynamics: A study                                         of ceramic production and distribution in pre-Hispanic Colima, Mexico (500-1000 AD).

James Glover:  Chipped-stone Technology and social identities in Mesolithic Southwest England.

Adrian Oyaneder Rodríguez: Pre-Hispanic landscape of the Camarones river valley: The study of a longterm human occupation




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. The 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.

In collaboration with Dr Korstanje, fieldwork also involves heritage research  in this area, looking at the roles landscape, sites and ancient materials have in identity assemblages over the long term. We also examine epistemic platforms and knowledge claims by looking into the uses of  archaeological concepts and their role in modifying and affecting public discourses about the past. 

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

In 2013, I co-organised 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:

We are currently working on developing an educational website and book oriented to schools and stakeholder communities basd on the contents of this book (see Public engagement).



Journals: Journal of Social Archaeology; World Archaeology; Cambridge Archaeological Journal; Journal of Archeological Science; International Journal of Heritage; Intersecciones (Journal of the University of Olavarría, Argentina); 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).



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:



I obtained my Licenciatura degree in Anthropological Sciences, specialty Archaeology, at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), Argentina. I then undertook a Master’s program at the University of Southampton thanks to a Fundación Antorchas-British Council scholarship, which I finished in 1997.  I then returned to Argentina as a research fellow at CONICET (National Council for Scientific and Technical Research), where I undertook comparative analysis of the stone tool assemblages of early sedentary and mobile groups in the valleys and puna areas of north-western Argentina until 2001.  

In 2006 I obtained my doctoral degree from the Anthropology department at Columbia University, New York, thanks to the support of  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 frameworks and scientific methods to develop a framework for the understanding of past social interaction in north-western Argentina during the first millennium AD.

Prior to joining the Department of Archaeology at Exeter, I was a visiting lecturer in the Cultural and Social Anthropology department at Stanford University during the Spring term of 2006. After that, I was a visiting postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Trans/forming cultures (UTS, Sydney), where I undertook comparative studies on cultural heritage, landscape and material culture thanks to an Endeavour Postdoctoral Research Award granted by the Australian Department of Education.


Membership of societies and professional bodies

Asociación Arqueólogos Profesionales de la República Argentina (AAPRA); World Archaeological Congress (WAC)

IAOS (International Association of Obsidian Studies); SAA (Society for American Archaeology)