Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology


Archaic Period 5000 BC to Inca 1530 CE and Spanish Colonial


MISSION: The Locumba Valley project aims to examine the historical correlation of catastrophic El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events with large-scale migration and culture change over the past four millennia along the Pacific coast of South America.

BACKGROUND: Researchers and public policy experts have been increasingly concerned with the effects of disasters and climate events on human societies of the Pacific Rim. No single climate phenomenon has had a more significant effect on past, present and future human occupation of the region than the ENSO. This project involves a pilot field survey in the coastal Locumba Valley in the department of Tacna in southern Peru. The plan is to build upon methods and results of a related long-term study in neighboring drainages that elucidated flood history, riparian response to flood events, and their correlation with ancient agrarian practice and settlement pattern. A crucial next question is: To what degree are these climate events and human responses universal phenomena, or unique to particular valleys and cultural settings?

The initial geoarchaeological survey covers the coastal Locumba Valley, a hyper-arid region in the northern fringes of the Atacama Desert, where precipitation totals less than 100 mm per year. These conditions are amenable to pedestrian survey to locate and sample preserved flood deposits from stratigraphic exposures. Using a combination of remote-sensing data analysis, hydraulic modeling, GPS and total station surveying, stratigraphic and particle size analyses, and radiocarbon dating, we will document the sequence, magnitude, frequency and geomorphic impacts of flood events and determine Late Holocene flood histories for the Coastal Rio Locumba and its tributaries. This project will be conducted in tandem with the ongoing systematic archaeological survey of the Proyecto Arqueológico Locumba (PAL), which has documented over 40 site components of Archaic, Formative, Tiwanaku, LIP, Inca and Spanish Colonial affiliation in the coastal Locumba and its Cinto and Salado tributaries. To contextualize flood events within archeological settlement history, we will cross-date flood events detected in river and tributary stratigraphy with shifts in human settlement and agricultural patterns. This interdisciplinary collaboration between geomorphological and archaeological investigations will permit us to build a chronology for major climatic events and understand human response through agrarian adaptation, migration and demographic change.


STELLA DEMESTICHA, Member, Advisory Council l Visiting Lecturer, University of Cyprus

Stella Demesticha completed her undergraduate studies in Archaeology in 1992 at the National University of Athens, Greece, and she went on earn her Ph.D. in Archaeology from the Department of History and Archaeology of the University of Cyprus, where she got her PhD in Archaeology in 2002. She worked from 2000 to 2006 at the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation, in Athens as head of the Museums Department and, ultimately, as deputy director of the Foundation. In 2006 she taught Maritime Archaeology at the University of Peloponnese, and since 2007 Dr. Demesticha lectures at the University of Cyprus.

She specializes in maritime archaeology, with special interest in shipwrecks amphorae, ancient seaborne trade routes and economy in the Eastern Mediterranean. Demesticha has published several articles on Late Roman transport amphorae from Cyprus and the Aegean, focusing on underwater assemblages. Recently she co-authored a monograph on maritime transport containers, expanding her research interests in earlier periods and the diachronic role of transport amphorae as markers for ancient economy and seaborne trade.

Over the past 20 years, Demesticha has participated in many land and underwater archaeological projects in Greece and Cyprus. In 2011 she created the Maritime Archaeological Research Laboratory (MARELab) at the Archaeological Research Unit of the University of Cyprus. She currently directs two ongoing underwater excavation projects at the Mazotos and the Nissia shipwreck sites. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses, coordinates a Master’s program (Field Archaeology on Land and Under the Sea), and supervises Ph.D. students.

Dr Demesticha has coordinated two funded research projects:

(i) Sailing in Cyprus through the Centuries: An Interdisciplinary Approach, co-financed by the European Development Funds and the Republic of Cyprus through its Research Promotion Foundation (RPF).
(ii) ΚΑΡΑΒΟΙ: The Ship Graffiti on the Medieval and Post Medieval Monuments of Cyprus: Mapping, Documentation and Digitization, funded by the Leventis Foundation Research Committee, University of Cyprus.

As the director of MARELab, she is currently partner of a larger EU project, entitled iMARECULTURE: Advanced VR, iMmersive serious games and Augmented Reality, as tools to raise awareness and access to European underwater CULTURal heritage (Horizon 2020). The 2016 – 2019 project aims to create 3D applications and serious games on ancient seaborne trade and on the methods and techniques of underwater archaeology.

John Hildebrand, Scripps Institution of Oceanography | UC San Diego

John Hildebrand is Professor of Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Adjunct Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC San Diego. He is the Chair of the Scripps Applied Ocean Science Curricular Group and a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. Hildebrand has interests in marine technology and its application to a broad range of disciplines including archaeology. He has applied geophysical methods to archaeology including seismic reflection and radar imaging, electromagnetic induction and magnetometry. He has studied offshore landscapes, site formation, and palaeoenvironments offshore from southern California. He has also conducted field studies for identification of ceramic raw materials and ceramic sourcing and typology for Patayan ceramics of western Arizona and southern California, and has collaborated in ethnoarchaeological research on ceramic production and use life in the Peruvian Andes.

Email | Website | Archaeological Resume

Thomas E. Levy, Director and Principal Investigator, UC San Diego

Tom Levy is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability (CCAS) in the Qualcomm Institute. He holds the Norma Kershaw Chair in the Archaeology of Ancient Israel and Neighboring Lands at UC San Diego, and is a member of the Jewish Studies Program. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Levy is a Levantine field archaeologist with interests in the role of technology, especially early mining and metallurgy, on social evolution from the beginnings of sedentism and the domestication of plants and animals in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (ca. 7500 BCE) to the rise of the first historic Levantine state-level societies in the Iron Age (ca. 1200 – 500 BCE). A Fellow of the Explorers Club, Levy won the 2011 Lowell Thomas Award for “Exploring the World’s Greatest Mysteries.” Levy has been the principal investigator of many interdisciplinary archaeological field projects in Israel and Jordan that have been funded by the National Geographic Society, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, and other organizations. He also conducts ethnoarchaeological research in India. Professor Levy directs the UC San Diego Levantine and Cyber-Archaeology Laboratory, and he was recently elected Chair of the Committee on Archaeological Policy (CAP) of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) and a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He is the Principal Investigator on the $1 million, two-year UCOP Catalyst grant for At-Risk World Heritage and the Digital Humanities.

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Isabel Rivera-Collazo, Department of Anthropology and Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Isabel Rivera-Collazo is SCMA’s Faculty Marine Archaeologist and an Assistant Professor on Biological, Ecological and Human Adaptations to Climate Change at UC San Diego’s Department of Anthropology and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Professor Rivera-Collazo is an environmental archaeologist specializing in geoarchaeology, archaeomalacology, coastal and marine processes, maritime culture and climate change, with regional interests in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean Basin and the Neotropics (pan-Caribbean region); Israel and the eastern Mediterranean. Her research focuses on the effect that human activity has over island ecosystems through time, as well as how people have responded to climate and environmental change in the past. Dr. Rivera-Collazo’s work focuses on resilience and adaptation, investigating what decisions enhance or reduce adaptive success. Taking an applied approach, she also works with local communities in the quest to understand the current and expected impacts of climate change, including threats to coastal heritage. Dr. Isabel Rivera-Collazo has a MSc degree on Palaeoecology of Human Societies and a PhD on Environmental Archaeology both from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. She is also Research Fellow of the Center of Tropical Ecology and Conservation, and the Laboratory of Environmental Archaeology at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus.

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Walter Munk, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Walter Munk is co-founder and Science Advisor of the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology, and Emeritus Research Professor of Geophysics in the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His research includes physical oceanography and geophysics leading to the understanding of ocean currents and circulation, tides, wave propagation in solid and fluid bodies, and the rotation of the Earth. He pioneered the use of high-speed computers for analyzing geophysical data. During the testing of nuclear weapons at Bikini Atoll in the southern Pacific Ocean, Munk participated in analysis of the currents and diffusion in the lagoon and the water exchange with the open seas. Munk also played a lead role in developing a new method for tracking long-term changes in climate associated with global warming as part of the Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate (ATOC) project.

Munk led a study of attenuation in ocean swells generated in the Southern Oceans, and Munk shared in the first award for ocean science and engineering given by the Marine Technology Society. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of London, and he received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society of London. Among his many awards and honors, Munk also received the Crafoord Prize in Geosciences from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for his pioneering and fundamental contributions to our understanding of ocean circulation, tides and waves, and their role in the Earth's dynamics. He was awarded the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences for his fundamental contributions to the field of oceanography, the first time the prize was awarded to an oceanographer. Munk was also named an honorary fellow of the Acoustical Society of America “for the invention of acoustic tomography.” Munk attended Scripps Institution of Oceanography and received a Ph.D. in oceanography from UCLA.

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Geoffrey Braswell, Department of Anthropology

Geoffrey Braswell is Associate Professor of Anthropology at UC San Diego. His research interests include settlement pattern studies, geoarchaeology, lithic production and technology, archaeometry, mathematical methods, the emergence of complex society and economic systems, and alternative models of social and political systems. Braswell directs the Mesoamerican Archaeology Laboratory, whose research focuses on the emergence of political and economic complexity among the ancient cultures of Mexico and Central America, particularly the ancient Maya and their neighbors through site excavation, survey, artifact analysis, ethnohistory, iconographic studies, and epigraphy. Braswell’s current research includes intra-regional interaction in the Southern Belize Region, specifically Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit, the focus of the project that Braswell leads within SCMA. Braswell received his doctorate from Tulane University in 1996.

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Jeff Gee, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Jeff Gee is Professor of Geophysics in the Geosciences Research Division of UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His research focuses on the use of magnetic data, both remotely sensed magnetic anomaly data and the magnetization of rock samples, to understand a variety of geological problems. Gee uses the magnetic record in geological samples to study topics ranging from the formation of new crust at oceanic spreading centers to the processes of melt redistribution and cooling in large magma chambers. Professor Gee is particularly interested in using marine magnetic anomaly data and complementary data from seafloor samples to document past fluctuations in geomagnetic intensity. Such records of variations of the geomagnetic field, both in direction and intensity, can potentially provide important constraints on the geodynamic and thermal history of the earth. Gee is also interested in characterizing geomagnetic field behavior in the more distant past through sampling older rocks from a variety of terrestrial settings. Prior to joining the Scripps faculty, Gee was a postdoctoral fellow at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. He later served as Director of the Geosciences Research Division, and as Deputy Director for Research. Gee earned his Ph.D. from Scripps.

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Paul Goldstein, Department of Anthropology

Paul Goldstein is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, which he joined after previously holding a faculty position in Anthropology at Dartmouth College. His teaching and research focus on anthropological archaeology, complex societies, Latin America and Andean South America. Goldstein studies how Tiwanaku civilization, the earliest state-level polity that emerged in the important Lake Titicaca region of the southern Andes, expanded and collapsed (ca. 350-1000 AD). Professor Goldstein has received a variety of research funding, including grants from the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren, H. John Heinz III Charitable Trust, as well as Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays grants. He received his Ph.D. in 1989 from the University of Chicago.

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Richard Norris, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Richard Norris is Professor of Paleobiology in the Geosciences Research Division of UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His research focuses on the evolution of life in the oceans, with particular emphasis on the mechanisms of extinction and speciation of plankton and the processes of assembly of marine ecosystems. He uses ecological, genetic, and biogeographic studies of living plankton and pelagic fish as well as the extensive fossil record of marine plankton and fish preserved in deep sea sediments. Other tools include the use of sediment geochemistry to reconstruct the history of ocean productivity and climate. Part of professor Norris’s research has focused on climate history and evolutionary dynamics during past intervals of extremely warm periods in the Cretaceous, Paleogene and Neogene as analogs for modern global change. He also works on the recent fossil record of reefs and coastal environments to evaluate the impact of human activities on marine and terrestrial ecosystems. During a 2016 sabbatical at Heidelberg University in Germany, he worked on tying the archaeological and historical record of the rise of civilizations around the Mediterranean to the rich ecological evolution of that ocean basin.

Prior to joining Scripps, Norris was a research scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Norris earned his Ph.D. in earth and planetary sciences from Harvard University. He has been a foraminifer paleontologist or chief scientist on six expeditions of the Ocean Drilling Program, and served as curator of the Marine Geological Collections at Scripps. I am also academic director of the Science Support Office for the International Ocean Discovery Program.

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Anthony Phokion Potamianos, Chair, Advisory Council | General Partner, Sylvina Capital

Anthony Phokion Potamianos is a Member and Chair of the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology (SCMA) Advisory Council. He also serves on the boards of the American School of Classical Studies’ Gennadius Library, Knightsbridge Schools International, La Jolla Country Day School, and Sonnabend Collection Foundation. He is a former board member of Numonyx Corp., MagnaChip Semiconductor, AMI Semiconductor, and Velti Corp.

Potamianos (pictured at left underwater carrying antique part of an amphora offshore the Greek island of Spetses) is active in causes related to the environment and archaeology. He supported the reconstruction and preservation of ancient, Byzantine and Medieval pathways in Greece (The Paths of Greece) as well the excavations at the Palace of Nestor in Pylos (also in Greece), which recently uncovered an early Mycenean burial site known as the Griffin Warrior Tomb. A diver since 1982, Potamianos participated in archaeological dives including the 1989 dive to the Dokos (a Proto Helladic shipwreck ca. 2700-2800 BC). He also did an internship with an expedition to study the Late Bronze Age Uluburun shipwreck in Turkey (ca. 1310 BC), and Potamianos has participated in numerous dives on archaeological sites as a volunteer at sites in Greece such as Dokos in the Argo-Saronic Gulf, where the oldest known shipwreck (ca 2150 BC) was excavated.

Since 2010 Potamianos has been the general partner of Sylvina Capital, a private family-investment firm based in San Francisco. From 2005-2010, Potamianos was a partner and member of the investment committee of Francisco Partners, a $10-billion, technology-focused private equity fund based in San Francisco. Before joining the firm, he was an investment banker and research analyst on Wall Street. He served as head of UBS’s global semiconductor investment banking group with responsibility for Europe, Asia and the Americas. From 1997-2000, Potamianos was a highly-ranked research analyst with the firm Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in New York, where he worked after receiving his M.S. in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2000.


Assaf Yasur-Landau, Member, Advisory Council

Dr. Assaf Yasur-Landau is an Associate Professor in the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa, and a senior researcher at the Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies. In 2008 he founded the Laboratory for Coastal Archaeology and Underwater Survey at the University of Haifa, which is now the home for 12 graduate students who combine maritime and land archaeology in their research.

The archaeologist received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University. He was an Associate Member of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and a Fulbright Scholar and a research associate of the Semitic Museum at Harvard University.

Yasur-Landau is a veteran of more than 20 excavation and survey seasons in Israel and the Aegean area, in capacities ranging from volunteer to director. Since 2005 he is also co-director for the excavations of the Canaanite Palace at Tel Kabri (with Dr. Eric H. Cline), a site which yielded Aegean-style wall paintings and extensive wine storerooms.

With more than 70 articles and five edited volumes published or in press, Yasur-Landau is best known for research concerning the Canaanites, Philistines and the interactions between the Aegean world and the Levant, with an emphasis on the investigation of the personal lives of ancient people and the study of political economy. His book, The Philistines and Aegean Migration in the Late Bronze Age (Cambridge and New York. Cambridge University Press), appeared in English (2010, 2014) and in Spanish (2012).

Since 2010 Yasur-Landau conducts underwater surveys at the Canaanite and Phoenician sites of Tel Achziv and Tel Dor, aiming to locate the Bronze and Iron Age anchorages as well as evidence of the role of maritime interactions in the economy of coastal settlements. The joint Sea and Land excavations at Dor, launched in 2016 in collaboration with Drs. Ayelet Gilboa, Ilan Sharon and Rebecca Martin, aim to create the first unified exploration of a harbor site, creating a stratigraphic sequence from the sea into the Tel.

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Christian McDonald, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Christian McDonald is a Safety Officer in the Scripps Scientific Diving Program. He manages the oldest and one of the largest and most active scientific diving programs in the United States. McDonald’s interest in marine science began as an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz while studying kelp forest ecological dynamics both in Central California and, later, on the remote island of Shemya, in the outer Aleutian chain, southwest of Alaska. Upon graduation from UC Santa Cruz with a B.S. in Marine Biology, McDonald spent five years working in and exploring diverse locations around Antarctica as a scientific diver, natural history cinematographer, commercial diver, and senior marine technician aboard NSF-supported, polar-classed research vessels. In addition to the scientific diving training, support, and oversight provided to the Scripps research community, McDonald has served as chair of NSF’s Office of Polar Programs Diving Control Board and is a Past-President of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences.

Richard Walsh, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Richard Walsh is the Assistant Safety Officer in the Scripps Scientific Diving Program. In 2012-13 he was named one of the university’s ten Exemplary Staff Employees of the Year by UC San Diego.

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