People

Dr. John Arthur

Associate Professor

M.A., University of Texas at San Antonio
Ph.D., University of Florida

Dr. John Arthur is a fellow in the illustrious Explorers Club. His research interests include ceramic technology, craft specialization and social stratification in Africa and North America. He has given presentations on his work in Japan, France and Germany, as well as at prominent American institutions such as Rice University, Stanford University and New York University.

Since 1995, Arthur has conducted archeological research in southwestern Ethiopia, where he helped discover a human burial site dating to 4,500 years ago. The discovery led to the first sequencing of an ancient African genome, receiving publication in the premier journal Science and earning national headlines in the New York Times.

Arthur is the author of “Living with Pottery: Ethnoarchaeology Among the Gamo of Southwest Ethiopia” as well as publishing a number of articles in top-tier, peer-review journals. While investigating household ceramics among the Gamo, Arthur discovered how to interpret beer production in the ancient past. His discovery revealed that beer production is visible in the form of residues on archaeological ceramics and, as a consequence, that beer producing elite households can be distinguished from non-beer producing commoner households.

Arthur teaches undergraduate courses in anthropology, including courses on North American Indians, North American archaeology and a seminar in archaeological method and theory. He also applies his archeological skills locally. Arthur has taken students out to excavate the shell mound at the Weedon Island Site and serves as president of the non-profit organization, Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education.