Scott Ortman 2020
Associate Professor
(Ph.D. • Arizona State University • 2010)

HALE 179

On Sabbatical

My research focuses on historical anthropology, or the integration of theory and data from many fields to understand the long-term histories of indigenous peoples. I am especially interested in the causes and consequences of major transitions – periods when new societies formed, old ones collapsed, or new scales of organization emerged. As examples, I have investigated Tewa Pueblo origins in the Northern Rio Grande region of New Mexico; the growth and collapse of villages in the Mesa Verde region of Colorado; and more recently, the accumulation of social complexity on a global scale. I am currently working on the Neolithic Revolution in the U.S. Southwest in collaboration with Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and the CU Museum of Natural History, the emergence of towns in the Tewa Basin, and complex systems approaches to human societies in collaboration with the Santa Fe Institute.

Since 2003 I have been involved with the Village Ecodynamics Project, a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional collaboration that investigates long-term human-environment interactions in the U.S. Southwest. Prior to coming to CU, I was Director of Research at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado, and an Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute.

Project Websites and Further Information:


Graduate Studies Information

Research Focus

Scott Ortman’s research focuses on:

  • Integrative approaches to the long-term histories of American Indian peoples
  • Expanding the role of archaeology in the social sciences, and the social sciences in archaeology

His geographical focus is the US Southwest, especially Tanoan-speaking peoples of the Northern Rio Grande region in New Mexico.

Working with Professor Ortman

Professor Ortman’s research includes an emphasis on archaeology and language and the compilation and analysis of regional archaeological datasets. He is currently focusing on the role of culture in economic development in the Northern Rio Grande, including Plains-Pueblo interaction, with new fieldwork in the planning stages.

Professor Ortman is looking for graduate students with the following:

  • A strong background in archaeology
  • Good quantitative and writing skills
  • Interest in and familiarity with American Indian languages
  • An interest in interdisciplinary research

More About Professor Ortman

Ortman’s research incorporates methods, theories and data from many fields, including archaeology, linguistics, human biology, cultural anthropology, complex systems and psychology to understand the processes of ethnogenesis, social transformation and economic development. His previous work has involved analyses of settlement pattern and artifact assemblage data, bio-archaeological and historical-linguistic data, and functional and stylistic analyses of ceramic and lithic artifacts.