David Keith Wright

Professor - Archaeology
Image of David Keith Wright
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47 22841942
Room Blindernverein 11, Room 145
Visiting address Blindernveien 11 0371 Oslo
Postal address Postboks 1008 Blindern 0316 Oslo

Academic interests

  • Environmental archaeology
  • Human-landscape interactions
  • Archaeometry
  • 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.

Courses taught


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.

Selected awards

  • 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

Positions held

  • 2019 – present: Professor, Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo, Norway
  • 2019: 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
Tags: Archaeology, Archaeometry, Environmental and Landscape Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, Geographic Information Systems

Selected publications

Selected articles in peer reviewed journals

  • Choi, Jungyu; Wright, David K.; Lima, Helena Pinto (2020) A new local scale prediction model of Amazonian landscape domestication sites. Journal of Archaeological Science 123:105240.
  • 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

Published Aug. 14, 2019 3:40 PM - Last modified Sep. 23, 2020 2:18 PM