Keith Prufer

Dr. Prufer's areas of interest are in the growth and decline of complex social and political systems in the archaeological past.  Recent projects focus on human responses to environmental change, landscape evolution, paleoclimate reconstruction, political economy, human uses of caves, and spatial analysis. Most of his research focuses on Mesoamerica and specifically in the Maya Lowlands.  Begun in 2014, his current research is focused on human ecology of hunters and gatherers in the Maya Lowlands between 14,000-3,500 years ago, looking at how complex polities colonize landscapes and collaborative research into the development of social formation using models from behavioral ecology including human-climate-landscape interactions.  His teaching interests are in archaeology of the development of social complexity with a focus on critical periods of behavioral change. He has trained as a four-field anthropologist, and strongly favors interdisciplinary approaches in both teaching and research and reaching across disciplines to engage in collaborative transdisciplinary research. 


  • PhD, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Research Areas

  • Cave Studies
  • Complex Society
  • Evolutionary Ecology
  • Landscape Transformation
  • Maya Archaeology
  • Mesoamerican Prehistory
  • Political Economy

Country Specialization(s)

  • Belize
  • Guatemala
  • Costa Rica
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • Mesoamerica