Scott Ortman Headshot
Associate Professor • (Director, Center for Collaborative Synthesis in Archaeology, Institute of Behavioral Science)
(Ph.D. • Arizona State University • 2010)

HALE 156

Office Hours
Wednesdays 11AM - 1PM

My research has three foci: 1) working with local communities to integrate archaeology and traditional evidence to understand the long-term histories of traditional communities, especially in the U.S. Southwest; 2) complex systems approaches to human societies and their evolution, especially the effects of networks, agglomeration, and technological and institutional change; and 3) the relevance of archaeological research and findings for contemporary issues in society and the environment. I am co-director if the CU-Pojoaque Youth Culture Camp, PI of the Social Reactors Project, co-PI of the CyberSW Project, and Director of the Center for Collaborative Synthesis in Archaeology within the Institute for Behavioral Science.

My field and laboratory research investigates the histories of Tewa and Spanish communities in the Northern Rio Grande region of New Mexico, and the growth and collapse of ancestral Pueblo villages in the Mesa Verde region of Colorado. I also work with compilations of data from cultural resource management projects in the US Southwest, and developer-funded archaeology in the United Kingdom, to investigate general processes of social development from a complex systems perspective.

Prior to coming to CU, I was Director of Research and Education at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center 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 community archaeology and the compilation and analysis of regional archaeological datasets. His field and laboratory work currently focuses on the Protohistoric and Spanish Colonial periods in the Northern Rio Grande, including patterns of inter-cultural interaction, with new fieldwork in the planning stages. In addition, his work in collaborative synthesis is global in scope and currently focuses on processes of social development and inequality.

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
  • The desire to make research results relevant for contemporary issues

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 processes of ethnogenesis, social transformation, economic development, and inequality. 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.