Dr. Williams
Patrick Ryan Williams
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Assistant Curator of Archaeological Science, Field Museum

Ph.D. University of Florida 1997
Room 2110-B BSB   (312) 665-7833   rwilliams@fieldmuseum.org
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New World Archaeology, Development of Sociopolitical Complexity, Political Interaction, GIS & Remote Sensing, Landscape Ecology, Regional Analysis; South America (Andes)

Current Research - Past Research - Selected Publications  
Personal Statement
I am an anthropological archaeologist who works on the earliest expansionist states of South America. My scholarly interests are focused on the development of ideological systems associated with early “global” polities.  I am very interested in understanding the material basis for the interaction between different component groups in first generation heterogeneous expansive states, and the nature of the relationships between peer polities at this political scale.

My research has focused on one of the few cases where we can archaeologically document extensive long term direct contact between two such polities: Wari and Tiwanaku.  I am currently undertaking research at the only known site of such direct interaction.  I also work with colleagues in other regions under the domination of the same cultures in order to obtain a comparative perspective on this relationship.

Finally, I invoke geochemical and geophysical science to create extensive data sets that test models of political expansion and multiethnic interaction.

I work with several graduate students in all my research projects and strive to create independent research opportunities that involve a stimulating intellectual atmosphere of collegial exchange within our research team. 

See our Andean Anthropology web page for other UIC and Field Museum archaeologists working in the Andes.
Current Research
The Cerro Baul Archaeological Expedition
Cerro Baul Since 1997, I have directed research at the Wari colonial outpost of Cerro Baul. Around A.D. 600, two expansionist states, the Wari and the Tiwanaku, expanded from their heartlands and became the most extensive Pre-Inca polities in the Andes. At only one place has direct co-habitation been documented: the settlement system around Cerro Baul in the Moquegua Valley of Southern Peru.  Our research is focused on assessing the nature of interaction between these ancient superpowers and reviewing the role that multiethnic politics plays in the development of global states.

I am conducting excavations supported by NSF and more recently NEH to test these issues. Concurrent work with colleagues at Tiwanaku (see below) and in Wari controlled areas to the north of Cerro Baul extend this scope even further.

Please see the Field Museum's Proyecto Arqueologico Cerro Baul / Cerro Baul Expedition website for further information.
Past Research
Agriculture in Andes For my Ph.D dissertation work (1995) I examined the impact of ancient natural disasters on the long-term dynamics of agricultural and social developments in the Andean highlands. This project featured landscape survey, mapping and excavation of hydraulic structures, satellite imaging, and GIS modeling of an entire river valley system to address the interaction of social and environmental elements on the long term sustainability of agrarian politico-economic systems in the Andes. A substantially-revised book based on this and more current research is in preparation.

Another related area of research is the geochemical analysis of archaeological remains to establish data on the political economy of ancient expansionist states. I am the Principal Investigator on a major NSF instrumentation grant to establish a new multi-million dollar Elemental Analysis Facility at The Field Museum. The facility will house a quadropole ICP-MS for rapid characterization of many elements on the periodic table to parts per billion accuracy and a large chambered Scanning Electron Microscope with EDS. I will be teaching classes at UIC in these methods and collaborate with my UIC & Field Museum colleagues to train students in these technologies.

Please see the Field Museum's Elemental Analysis Lab website for more details.

Dr. Williams using GPR My third major methodological focus related to research on the development of complex social systems focuses on the nature of Andean urbanism. In addition to the GIS modeling and satellite remote sensing that characterizes my study of landscape evolution, I am also co-directing research on the composition of urban structure at Tiwanaku and collaborating on research at Khonko Wankane in the Bolivian altiplano. My expertise in this area applies ground based geophysical methods (GPR, Magnetometry, resisitivity) to mapping out the buried structure of the city. This work is being supported in part by the Brennan Foundation.
Selected Publications
2003 (With Donna J. Nash)  Clash of the Andean Titans: Wari and Tiwanaku at Cerro Baul.  In the Field, Summer: 16-17.

2003   Hydraulic Landscapes and Social Conflict in Middle Horizon Peru. In The Reconstruction of Archaeological Landscapes Through Digital Technologies: Proceedings of the 1st Italy-United States Workshop, Maurizio Forte and P. Ryan Williams, eds. Oxford: Archaeopress.

2002   A Re-examination of Disaster-Induced Collpase in the Case of the Andean Highland States: Wari and Tiwanaku World Archaeology. 33(3):361-374

2002 (With Johny Isla C.)  Excavaciones Arqueológicas en el Centro Administrativo Wari de Cerro Baúl. Gaceta Arqueológica Andina, 26: 87-120.

2002 (With Donna Nash)  Imperial Interaction in the Andes: Wari and Tiwanaku at Cerro Baúl. In Andean Archaeology, William H. Isbell and Helaine Silverman, eds. New York: Plenum.

2001  Cerro Baúl: A Wari Center on the Tiwanaku Frontier. Latin American Antiquity, 12(1):67-83.

2001 (With Johny Isla C. and Donna Nash)  Cerro Baúl: un Enclave Wari en Interacción con Tiwanaku. Boletin de Arqueologia PUCP, 5: 69-88.

2000 (With Michael Moseley and Donna Nash)  Empires of the Andes: A Majestic Frontier Outpost Chose Cooperation Over War. Scientific American: Discovering Archaeology, March/April: 68-73.