Clark Spencer Larsen

Distinguished Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Chair



My primary interest is in the history of the human condition, viewed from the perspective of health, quality of life, adaptation, and lifestyle during the last 10,000 years of human evolution. I have spent most of my professional career directing the La Florida Bioarchaeology Project, involving the collaboration of scientists from the United States and elsewhere. The research focuses on the consequences of major adaptive shifts in coastal and terrestrial settings on the southeastern U.S. Atlantic coast. Methods of analysis include biomechanics, paleopathology, dietary reconstruction (stable isotope analysis, tooth microwear). A popular account of the project is presented in Skeletons in our Closet: Revealing Our Past Through Bioarchaeology (Princeton University Press, 2000) and research results in Bioarchaeology of Spanish Florida: The Impact of Colonialism (University Press of Florida, 2001).  In collaboration with Richard Steckel, Kimberly Williams, and Charlotte Roberts, I co-direct the Global History of Health Project, involving the collaboration of scientists and study of skeletons from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.  Our current focus is Europe, where we have developed a database currently being analyzed.   Results of the study of 18,000 skeletons is beginning to reveal significant changes in health and lifestyle.  I co-direct (with Christopher Knüsel, University of Bordeaux) the bioarchaeology research at Çatalhöyük (Turkey), a large Neolithic settlement.   This enormous site is providing the opportunity to test hypotheses about the impact of urbanization, population agglomeration, and increased commitment to agriculture on health and quality of life.  The project is a part of an international archaeological research program directed by Ian Hodder (Stanford University).  In collaboration with Gino Fornaciari (University of Pisa) and Giuseppe Vercellotti (Ohio State University), I co-direct a research program and annual field school in bioarchaeology and archaeology at Badia Pozzeveri, a church and cemetery dating to ca. AD 950-1850 in Tuscany (Italy).