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Nicola Sharratt

Assistant Professor    

Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, 2011


Archaeology, Andean South America


After receiving her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2011, Dr. Sharratt held post-doctoral fellowships at the Field Museum of Natural History and the American Museum of Natural History/Bard Graduate Center. She joined the anthropology department at Georgia State University in 2014.

Her ongoing archaeological project examines the aftermath of state collapse and how local communities are affected by and respond to political upheaval. She has directed a series of excavations at a site in the Moquegua Valley in southern Peru that was first established circa AD 1000 as the Tiwanaku state disintegrated. Her doctoral work examined funerary practices to understand how community members renegotiated identity and define themselves as groups and individuals as the overarching political entity fragmented. In more recent excavation seasons, she has focused on domestic contexts to investigate the impact of state collapse on household economies, craft production, subsistence practices, community organization and long distance networks of trade and exchange.

Supported by NSF funding, the next stage of the project is investigating the end of this community. Around AD 1250, Tiwanaku materials and practices disappear from the site and from the region more broadly. Dr. Sharratt and team members are examining the social processes that resulted in the drastic disappearance of Tiwanaku affiliated communities after several centuries of cultural continuity and resilience.

Undergraduate and graduate students have been critical members of all the excavation teams working with Dr. Sharratt. Field schools at the site have offered training to numerous undergraduates and data from the research has been used in several thesis projects by both US and Peruvian students. She looks forward to continuing to provide field and laboratory opportunities to students.

In her research Dr. Sharratt incorporates p-XRF (portable X-ray florescence) and LA-ICP-MS (laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) analyses of archaeological materials. As part of a Field Museum team, she has conducted a series of geo-archaeological projects that sourced and compositionally characterized clays from several regions of the Andes, and conducted ethno-archaeological research with contemporary potters.

Dr. Sharratt has worked extensively with museums in the US and in Latin America. In her archaeological project she collaborates closely with the Contisuyo Museo, a regional museum in Peru and has curated temporary exhibitions there. In the US, she curated an exhibition on archaeological and ethnographic coca bags from the Andes, which opened in New York City in 2014. It situated these elaborate craft objects in their social and political context, by highlighting how their production and consumption is intimately tied to perceptions of the coca they hold, a substance that is deeply embedded in social and ritual practice in the Andes but that is increasingly derided on the global stage. As part of this project she published the 2014 book ‘Carrying Coca: 1500 years of Andean Chuspas.’


“Pottery Production, Regional Exchange and State Collapse during the Middle Horizon (A.D. 500-1000): LA-ICP-MS analyses of Tiwanaku pottery in the Moquegua Valley, Perú.” Journal of Field Archaeology. In press (with M. Golitko & P. R. Williams)

“Crafting a Response to Collapse: Ceramic and Textile Production in the Wake of Tiwanaku State Breakdown.” For inclusion in Beyond Collapse: CAI Occasional Paper no. 42. Ed. R. Faulseit Carbondale Il: CAI Press. In press

“Open Cell Ablation of Killke and Inka Pottery from the Cuzco Area: Museum collections as repositories of provenience information.” For inclusion in Recent Advances in Laser Ablation ICP-MS for Archaeology. Eds. L. Dussubieux, B. Gratuze & M. Golitko. Accepted (with M.Golitko & P. R .Williams)

“Viviendo y Muriendo en medio de la efervescencia política: excavaciones en una aldea Tiwanaku terminal (950-1150 D.C) del valle de Moquegua, Perú.” For inclusion in El Horizonte Medio en los Andes Centro Sur: Nuevos aportes sobre la arqueología del sur de Perú, norte de Chile y altiplano de Bolivia. Eds. A. Korpisaari & J. Chacama R. Travaux de l’Institut Français d’Etudes Andines: IFEA. In press

“Late Tiwanaku Mortuary Patterns in the Moquegua Drainage, Peru: Excavations at the Tumilaca la Chimba Cemetery.” Advances in Titicaca Basin Archaeology III. Eds. A. Vranich, E. Klarich & C. Stanish. Ann Arbor: Museum of Anthropology Publications, 2012. 193-203 (with P. R. Williams, M. C. Lozada & J. Starbird).

“Identity Negotiation during Tiwanaku State Collapse.” Identity Crisis: Archaeological Perspectives on Social Identity. Proceedings of the 42nd (2010) Annual Chacmool Conference. Eds. L. Amundsen-Meyer, N. Engel & S. Pickering. University of Calgary: Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 2011. 167-177.

“Continuity and Transformation during the Terminal Middle Horizon (A.D. 950-1150): A Bioarchaeological Assessment of Tumilaca Origins within the Middle Moquegua Valley, Peru.” Latin American Antiquity 21.1 (2010): 67-86 (with Richard Sutter)

“Ceramic Production during the Middle Horizon: Wari and Tiwanaku Clay Procurement in the Moquegua Valley, Peru.” Geoarchaeology 24.6 (2009): 792-820. (with M. Golitko, P. R. Williams, and L. Dussubieux)

“International Collaboration and US Training; Peruvian and British Perspectives.” SAA Archaeological Record 9.4 (2009): 19-20 (with S. Chacaltana-Cortez)