Department of Anthropology

Robert Kelly

B.A. 1978, Cornell University
M.A. 1980 University of New Mexico
Ph.D. 1985, University of Michigan • (307) 223-5696 • Anthropology Bldg 273


Robert L. Kelly's CV

Kelly first became involved in archaeology in 1973, when, as a high school student, he participated in the excavation of Gatecliff Rockshelter in central Nevada, with David Hurst Thomas of the American Museum of Natural History. He continued to work in Nevada for more than a decade, eventually conducting his doctoral research there. Kelly received his BA from Cornell University in anthropology in 1978, his MA from the University of New Mexico in 1980, and his doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1985. 

He has previously taught at Colby College in Maine, and beginning in 1986, the University of Louisville, in Kentucky. He directed that department's Program in Archaeology and served as department head from 1992-1997. He moved to Wyoming in 1997, taking a position as professor of Anthropology. He served as department head from 2005-2008, overseeing the planning, construction and move to the new anthropology building. He helped construct the department's current doctoral program.

Kelly is the author of over 100 articles, books, and reviews, including The Foraging Spectrum: Diversity in Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways, The Bioarchaeology of the Stillwater Marsh (with Clark S. Larsen), and Prehistory of the Carson Desert and Stillwater Mountains, Nevada: Environment, Mobility and Subsistence. He is also the author, with David Hurst Thomas, of the widely-used textbooks Archaeology and Archaeology: Down to Earth, the pedagogical CD Doing Fieldwork, and, with Thomas and Peter Dawson, a Canadian version of Archaeology.

He is a past president of the Society for American Archaeology and past secretary of the Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association. He has been a distinguished lecturer at UCLA, Washington State University, University of Colorado, and the University of Tennessee, as well as the University of Leiden (Netherlands) and the Universities of La Plata and Cordoba (Argentina). He has served on both the National Science Foundation and Wenner-Gren proposal review panels.

Kelly has worked on the archaeology, ethnology, and ethnography of foraging peoples since 1973, working on archaeological research projects in Nevada, California, New Mexico, Kentucky, Georgia, Chile and, for the past 13 years, Wyoming. He has conducted ethnographic work with part-time hunter-gatherers in Madagascar and assisted in an ethnohistory project in Micronesia. After coming to Wyoming, he returned to an early interest in paleoindian archaeology, researching the Pine Spring site in southwest Wyoming, and, for the past 10 years, many of the caves and rockshelters that George Frison excavated in the 1970s in the Bighorn Mountains. This year he begins a project in Glacier National Park that will survey the park's ice and snow patches for artifacts exposed by recent global warming. The project aims to use this evidence to relate current to past climate changes. He has received over one million dollars in research funding. A proponent of outreach and public education, he created the Explore Wyoming's Cultural Heritage website ( to promote tourism to Wyoming's historic and archaeological sites, and has given numerous public lectures around the state.

Shlemon Center for Quaternary Studies


Courses Taught:

ANTH 1300           Introduction to Archaeology pdf
ANTH 4115/5115   Lithic Analysis pdf
ANTH 3400           Hunter-Gatherers pdf
ANTH 4120           North American Archaeology pdf
ANTH 4315/5315   Human Behavioral Ecology pdf

Recent/Selected Publications:

 Books and Monographs

2007 Kelly, R.L. Mustang Shelter: Test Excavation of a Rockshelter in the Stillwater Mountains, Western Nevada. Nevada Bureau of Land Management Cultural Resource Series 18. Available on CD with data tables, and on-line. website

2007 Kelly, R.L. The Foraging Spectrum: Diversity in Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways. Revised version. Percheron Press, Clinton Corners, New York. website


2008 Larsen, C.S., R.L. Kelly, M. Schoeninger, C.B. Ruff, D. Hutchinson, and B. Hemphill. Living on the Margins: Biobehavioral Adaptations in the Western Great Basin. In Case Studies in Environmental Archaeology, edited by E.J. Reitz, C.A. Scarry, and S.J. Scudder, pp. 161 -189 (Update of 1995 publication). New York: Springer. pdf

2007 Kelly, R.L. and M. Prasciunas. Did the Ancestors of Native Americans Cause Animal Extinctions in Late Pleistocene North America? In Native Americans and the Environment: Perspectives on the Ecological Indian, edited by M.E. Harkin and D.R. Lewis, pp. 95-122. Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press. pdf

2006 Kelly, R.L., D. A. Byers, W. Eckerle, P. Goldberg, C. V. Haynes, R. M. Larsen, J. Laughlin, J. I. Mead, S. Wall. Multiple Approaches to Formation Processes: The Pine Spring Site, Southwest Wyoming. Geoarchaeology 21: 615-638. pdf

2006 Cheshier, J. and R. L. Kelly. Projectile Point Shape and Durability: The Effects of Thickness:Length. American Antiquity 71: 353-363. pdf

2005 Kelly, R.L. Hunter-Gatherers, Archaeology, and the Role of Selection in the Evolution of the Human Mind. In A Catalyst for Ideas: Anthropological Archaeology and the Legacy of Douglas W. Schwartz, pp. 19-39, edited by Vernon Scarborough and Richard Leventhal. Santa Fe, School of American Research Press. pdf

2005 Kelly, R.L., Poyer, L., and B. Tucker. An Ethnoarchaeological Study of Mobility, Architectural Investment, and Food Sharing among Madagascar's Mikea. American Anthropologist 107: 403-416. pdf

2004 Kelly, R.L. Searching for Home in the Modern Landscape of Archaeology, in Exploring Analytical Strategies, Frames of Reference, and Culture Process, edited by Amber Johnson, pp. 1-10. Praeger, Westport, CT. pdf

2003 Kelly, R.L. Maybe We Do Know When People First Came to North America; And What Does it Mean if We Do? Quaternary International, 109-110: 133-145. pdf

2003 Kelly, R.L. Colonization of New land by Hunter-Gatherers: Expectations and Implications Based on Ethnographic Data. In Colonization of Unfamiliar Landscapes: The Archaeology of Adaptation, edited by M. Rockman and J. Steele, pp. 44-58. London, Routledge. pdf


Patty Jo Watson Distinguished Lecture, recorded at Wyoming, January 2014, delivered to Archaeology Division, American Anthropological Association (November, 2013), The Abyss: An Academic Archaeologists Looks to the Future.

Research Interests:

Evolutionary ecology of hunting and gathering societies, archaeological method and theory, paleoindian colonization of the New World, human evolution, stone tool technology.



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Anthropology Department

12th and Lewis Streets

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-5136


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