- Environmental archaeology
- Human-landscape interactions
- Radiometric dating
- Stable isotopes in soil
- Sedimentology / pedology
- Spatial analysis (Geographic Information Systems)
- Digital heritage
I am an environmental archaeologist specializing in archaeometric dating and ecological reconstructions of human-made environments. My research utilizes scientific tools to address important questions pertaining to the co-evolution of humans and terrestrial and atmospheric systems. I seek to develop deeper understandings of the human past through analyzing connections between earth’s spheres (lithosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, etc.) and the influence humans exert on sculpting earth’s ecological systems.
I worked my way through university as a truck driver, handyman, musician and apartment building manager, but found my true calling doing archaeology. I was a contract archaeologist in the Midwest of the United States during and following graduate school until I was hired to teach at Seoul National University in South Korea in 2010. I began working at the University of Oslo as an associate professor in the autumn of 2019.
My academic research has mostly been in Africa (Kenya, Cameroon, Malawi), but I also have active projects in South Korea, Brazil and the American Southwest. I collaborate on big and little projects whenever and wherever the opportunity presents answering questions pertaining to human-landscape interactions.
- Wenner-Gren Foundation (2017 – 2018) funding for “Investigation of Amazon Dark Earth in Caxiuanã National Forest, Brazil” (US$20,000).
- National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF; 2015 – 2016) funding for “Tropical Archaeology of Brazilian Agricultural Systems” (Korean Won [KRW] 50,000,000).
- Seoul National University Foundation (2013 – 2014) funding for “Archaeological study of political complexity and farming systems of the Mandara Mountains, Cameroon” (KRW 20,000,000).
- NRF (2012 – 2014) funding to obtain OSL ages at the Korean Basic Science Institute (with Jeong Heon Choi, co-PI) on Middle Stone Age sites in northern Malawi (KRW 30,000,000).
- National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration grant (2007) for geoarchaeological reconnaissance of the Chalbi Desert and Lake Turkana Basin, Kenya ($20,000).
- National Science Foundation Dissertation Research Grant (2003) for excavation of a potential early cattle herding site in Tsavo National Park ($11,909).
- Fulbright International Institute for Education Research Fellowship (2001) for archaeological survey and limited excavations in Tsavo National Park, Kenya ($30,000).
- 2019 – present: State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xian, China
- 2018 – present: Board member, OpenHeritage (South Africa)
- 2017 – present: Science mentor for Frontiers for Young Minds, a journal written by scientists and peer reviewed by kids for kids
- 2016 – present: Associate Editor of Quaternary Science, Geomorphology and Paleoenvironment, Frontiers in Earth Science
- 2016 – 2019: President, Seoul National University International Faculty Association
- 2014 – 2018: Associate Fellow, Department of Archaeology, University of York, United Kingdom
- 2009 – 2010: Board Member, Arizona Archaeological Council
- 2008 – 2010: Adjunct Faculty, School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC), Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe
- 1999 – 2005: Research Associate, African Ethnology and Archaeology, Field Museum, Chicago
- 2019 – Present: Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo, Norway
- 2016 – 2019: Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology and Art History, Seoul National University, South Korea
- 2010 – 2016: Assistant Professor, Department of Archaeology and Art History, Seoul National University, South Korea
- 2008 – 2010: Project Director, Cultural Resource Management Program, Gila River Indian Community, Sacaton, Arizona
- 2005 – 2008: Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Public Service Archaeology Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- 2003 – 2005: Field Supervisor, Public Service Archaeology Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- 1998 – 2002: Adjunct Instructor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Indiana University Northwest, Gary
- 1997 – 2004: Teaching Assistant, Department of Geography, Department of Anthropology, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago
- National Museums of Kenya
- Malawi Department of Antiquities
- Gila River Indian Community, USA
- Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Brazil
- University of York, UK
Selected articles in peer reviewed journals
- Wright, David K.; Kim, Junkyu; Park, Jiyoung; Yang, Jiwon; Kim, Jangsuk (2020) Spatial modeling of archaeological site locations based on summed probability distributions and hot-spot analyses: A case study from the Three Kingdoms Period, Korea. Journal of Archaeological Science 113:105036.
- Nightingale, Sheila; Schilt, Flora; Thompson, Jessica C.; Wright, David K.; Forman, Steven L.; Mercader, Julio; Moss, Patrick; Clarke, Siobhan; Itambu, Makarius; Gomani-Chindebvu, Elizabeth;Welling, Menno (2019) Late Middle Stone Age behavior and environments at Chaminade I (Karonga, Malawi). Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology 2(3):258-297.
- Stevens, Lucas; Fuller, Dorian; Boivin, Nicole;…ARCHAEOGLOBE Project members 109thout of 120 authors arranged alphabetically…; Ellis, Erle (2019) Archaeological assessment reveals Earth’s early transformation through land use. Science 365:897-902.
- Wright, David K. (2019) Long-term dynamics of pastoral ecology in northern Kenya: An old model for new resilience. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 55:101068.
- Wright, David K.; MacEachern, Scott; Ambrose, Stanley H.; Choi, Jungyu; Choi, Jeong-Heon; Lang, Carol; Wang, Hong (2019) Iron Age landscape changes in the Benoué River Valley, Cameroon. Quaternary Research 92(2):323-339.
- Thompson, Jessica C.; Mackay, Alex; Nightingale, Sheila; Wright, David K.; Choi, Jeong-Heon; Welling, Menno; Blackmore, Hari; Gomani-Chindebvu, Elizabeth (2018) Ecological risk, demography, and technological complexity in the Late Pleistocene of northern Malawi: Implications for geographical patterning in the Middle Stone Age. Journal of Quaternary Science 33(3):261-284.
- Wright, David K. (2017) Accuracy vs. precision: Understanding potential errors from radiocarbon dating on African landscapes. African Archaeological Review 34(3):303-319.
- Wright, David K. (2017) Humans as agents in the termination of the African Humid Period. Frontiers in Earth Science 5(4):DOI: 10.3389/feart.2017.00004.
- Wright, David K.; Thompson, Jessica C.; Schilt, Flora; Cohen, Andrew S.; Choi, Jeong-Heon; Mercader, Julio; Nightingale, Sheila; Miller, Christopher; Mentzer, Susan; Walde, Dale; Welling, Menno; Gomani-Chindebvu, Elizabeth (2017) Approaches to Middle Stone Age landscape archaeology in tropical Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science (Special issue: Geoarchaeology of the Humid Tropics; Michael Morley and Paul Goldberg, [Eds.]) 77:64-77.
- Kim, Jangsuk; Wright, David K.; Lee, Youngseon; Lee, Jaeyong; Choi, Seonho; Kim, Junkyu; Ahn, Sung-Mo; Choi, Jongtaik; Seong, Chuntaek; Hwang, Jaehoon; Yang, Hyemin; Yang, Jiwon (2016) AMS dates from two archaeological sites of Korea: Blind tests. Radiocarbon 58(1):1-16.
- Wright, David K.; Forman, Steven L.; Kiura, Purity; Bloszies, Christopher; Beyin, Ammanuel (2015) Lakeside view: Socio-cultural responses to changing water levels of Lake Turkana, Kenya. African Archaeological Review (Special issue: New Environmental Research and Techniques in Africa; Roderick McIntosh, Jean Maley, and Robert Vernet, [Eds.]) 32(2):335-367.
- Bloszies, Christopher; Forman, Steven L.; Wright, David K. (2015) Water level history for Lake Turkana, Kenya in the past 15,000 years and a variable transition from the African Humid Period to Holocene aridity. Global and Planetary Change 132:64-76.
- Wright, David K.; MacEachern, Scott; Lee, Jaeyong (2014) Analysis of feature intervisibility and cumulative visibility using GIS, Bayesian and spatial statistics: A study from the Mandara Mountains, northern Cameroon. PLoS ONE 9(11):e112191. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112191.
- Wright, David K.; Thompson, Jessica C.; Mackay, Alex; Welling, Menno; Forman, Steven L.; Price, Gilbert; Zhao, Jian-xin; Cohen, Andrew S.; Malijani, Oris;Gomani-Chindebvu, Elizabeth (2014) Renewed geoarchaeological investigations of the “Elephant Butchery Site” at Mwanganda's Village, Karonga, Malawi. Geoarchaeology 29(2):98-120.
- Wright, David K.; Waters, Michael R.; Loendorf, Chris; Woodson, M. Kyle; Miles, Wesley D.; Darling, J. Andrew (2013) Late Archaic wells on the Gila River Indian Community, Arizona. Journal of Archaeological Science 40(1):45-57.
- Thompson, Jessica C.; Mackay, Alex; Wright, David K.; Welling, Menno; Greaves, Amanda; Gomani-Chindebvu, Elizabeth; Simengewa, Davie (2012) Renewed investigations into the Middle Stone Age of northern Malawi. Quaternary International 270:129-139.
- Wright, David K.; Forman, Steven L.; Waters, Michael R.; Ravesloot, John C. (2011) Holocene eolian activity as a proxy for broad-scale landscape change on the middle Gila River, Arizona. Quaternary Research 76:10-21.
- Wright, David K. (2011) Frontier animal husbandry in the Northeast and East African Neolithic: A multiproxy paleoenvironmental and paleodemographic study. Journal of Anthropological Research 67(2):213-244.
- Wright, David K.; Forman, Steven L.; Kusimba, Chapurukha M.; Pierson, James; Gomez, Jeanette; Tattersfield, Peter (2007) Stratigraphic and geochronological context of human habitation along the Galana River, Kenya. Geoarchaeology 22(7):709-730.
- Wright, David K. (2007) Tethered mobility and riparian resource exploitation among Neolithic hunters and herders in the Galana River Basin, Kenyan Coastal Lowlands. Environmental Archaeology 12(1):25-47.
- Wright, David K. (2005) New perspectives on early regional interaction networks in East Africa: A view from Tsavo National Park, Kenya. African Archaeological Review 15(3):111-141.
Selected book chapters
- Wright, David K. (2017) East and southern African Neolithic: Geography and overview. In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, C. Smith (Ed.). Springer, New York. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51726-1_1888-2.
- Wright, David K.(2017) Palaeoenviromental science: Methods. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History, Thomas Spear (Ed.). Oxford University Press, Oxford. DOI:10.1093/acrefore/9780190277734.013.211
- Wright, David K. (2017) Other radiometric dating techniques (within Chapter 5: Ecofacts and related studies). In Field Manual for African Archaeology/Manuel de Terrain en Archéologie Africaine, Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Els Cornelissen, Olivier Gosselain, Scott MacEachern (Eds.). Pp. 35-40 / 237-242. Royal Museum for Central Africa, Brussels.
- Wright, David K. (2017) Relative dating techniques (within Chapter 5: Ecofacts and related studies). In Field Manual for African Archaeology/Manuel de Terrain en Archéologie Africaine, Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Els Cornelissen, Olivier Gosselain, Scott MacEachern (Eds.). Pp. 41-43 / 243-246. Royal Museum for Central Africa, Brussels.
- Wright, David K. (2013) Fits and starts: Why did domesticated animals ‘trickle’ before they ‘splashed’ into Sub-Saharan Africa? In Comparative Archaeology and Paleoclimatology: Socio-cultural Responses to a Changing World, M. O. Baldia, T. Perttula, and D. Frink (Eds.). BAR International Series 2456. Pp. 63-82. Archaeopress, Oxford.