Christopher Morgan

Chair, Anthropology Department; Professor of Anthropology; Don Frazier-Don Fowler Endowed Chair in Prehistoric Great Basin Archaeology; Faculty member in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology
Christopher Morgan


Christopher Morgan's research focuses on the hunter-gatherer archaeology of the American West, China, Mongolia, and the southern Andes, with an emphasis on behavioral adaptations to high-altitude, desert, and other marginal environments. He is particularly interested in the ways mobility, storage, and settlement patterns articulate with paleoenvironmental change and the evolution of different types of hunter-gatherer sociocultural organization.

In the America West, he studies the archaeology of Numic-speaking peoples across and beyond the Great Basin, the evolution of Archaic lifeways, and the different ways hunter-gatherers in the region exploited mountain environments. In China, he focuses on more fundamental evolutionary questions: Lower to Upper Paleolithic transitions, the arrival or evolution of modern humans and human behavior, and the forager to farmer sequence between the Yellow and Wei rivers. In Mongolia, he collaborates with the National Museum of Mongolia on projects that track the origins of pastoral economies and the northeast Asian microblade adaptation. In the southern Andes, Morgan works on collaborative projects with the National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina that investigate the ways the region's hunter-gatherers adapted to high altitude settings.

Publications resulting from his research are available on ResearchGate and on

Morgan is looking for graduate students with a strong undergraduate education and experience in archaeology. If you are interested in these or other related research topics and would like to pursue either a Master’s or Ph.D. at the University of Nevada, Reno, please contact him and be sure to visit the department's graduate program web pages.


  • Hunter-gatherer archaeology
  • Evolutionary and behavioral ecology
  • GIS and spatial analysis
  • Paleoenvironmental reconstruction
  • Lithic technology
  • Cultural resource management


  • Anth 202 - Archaeology
  • Anth 440a/640a - Archaeology of North America
  • Anth 441a/641a - Archaeology of the Old World
  • Anth 443/643 - Environmental Archaeology
  • Anth 448a/648a - Field School in Archaeology
  • Anth 455/655 - Archaeological Theory
  • Anth 459/659 - California Archaeology
  • Anth 493R/693R - Research Design & Quantitative Methods
  • Anth 728 - Geoarchaeology
  • Anth 729 - GIS and Archaeology
  • Anth 730 - Paleoeconomics

Recent publications

  • 2022, Morgan, Christopher, Loukas Barton, Bayarsaikhan Jamsranjav and Tuvshinjargal Tumurbaatar.  Paleolakes, Archaeology, and Late Quaternary Paleoenvironments in Northwestern Mongolia. Quaternary Research 109: 1-15 
  • 2022, Morgan, Christopher and Carly Whelan. Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology in California and the Great Basin. Hunter-Gatherer Research (published in 2022 for year 2018) 4(4): 427-435
  • 2022, Sprengeler, Kari and Christopher Morgan. An Evaluation of Demographic and Sociocultural Factors Affiliated With Cooperative Artiodactyl Hunting in the Prehistoric Great Basin, USA. Hunter-Gatherer Research (published in 2022 for year 2018) 4(4): 467-492
  • 2022, Morgan, Christopher and Gustavo Neme. High-Altitude Residential Occupations in Mid-Latitude North and South America. In, More Than Shelter from the Storm, Hunter-Gatherer Houses and the Built Environment, edited by Danielle MacDonald and Brian N. Andrews, pp. 121-152. University of Florida Press, Gainesville
  • 2022, Franchetti, Fernando, Clara Otaola, Laura Salgán, Miguel Giardina and Christopher Morgan.  Obsidian Conveyance Among Hunter-Gatherers in Northwestern Patagonia. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 65. doi: 10.1016/j.jaa.2021.101389
  • 2021, Klimaszewski-Patterson, Anna, Christopher Morgan and Scott Mensing. Identifying a Pre-Columbian Anthropocene in California. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 111(3):784-794
  • 2020, Morgan, Christopher, Marielle Black, Amanda (Rankin) Richey, Kristina Crawford, and Mark Giambastiani. In, The Ecology of the Alpine Villages of Eastern California. In, CARD 19 - Cowboy Ecologist: Essays in Honor of Robert L. Bettinger, edited by Roshanne Bakhtiary, Terry L. Jones, and Michael G. Delacorte, pp. 135-155. Center for Archaeological Research at Davis, California
  • 2020, Morgan, Christopher, Shannon Tushingham, Raven Garvey, Loukas Barton and Robert L. Bettinger. Hunter-Gatherer Economies in the Old World and New World. In, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Agriculture and the Environment, Volume I, edited by Richard W. Hazlett, pp. 53-83. Oxford University Press. Oxford
  • 2019, Morgan, Christopher, Loukas Barton and Robert L. Bettinger. Looking for Behavioral Modernity in Pleistocene Northwestern China. Archaeological Research in Asia 17:70-78
  • 2018, Morgan, Christopher, Dallin Webb, Kari Sprengeler, Marielle (Pedro) Black and Nicole D. George.  Experimental Construction of Hunter-Gatherer Residential Features, Mobility, and the Costs of Occupying “Persistent Places.” Journal of Archaeological Science 91: 65-76
  • 2017, Morgan. Christopher, Gustavo Neme, Adolfo Gil, Clara Otaola, N. Sugrañez, Laura Salgán, Miguel Giardina, and  Carina Llano.  Late Prehistoric High-Altitude Hunter-Gatherer Residential Occupations in the Southern Andes. Journal of Field Archaeology 42(3): 214-227

Other representative publications

  • 2015, Morgan, Christopher.  Is it Intensification Yet? Current Archaeological Perspectives on the Evolution of Hunter-Gatherer Economies. Journal of Archaeological Research 23(2):163-213.2012
  • Morgan, Christopher. Modeling Modes of Hunter-Gatherer Food Storage. American Antiquity 77(4):714-736
  • 2012, Morgan, Christopher, Ashley Losey, and Richard Adams. High Altitude Hunter-Gatherer Residential Occupations in Wyoming‘s Wind River Range. North American Archaeologist 33(1):35-79
  • 2011, Morgan, Christopher, Loukas Barton, Robert Bettinger, Fahu Chen & Zhang Dongju. Glacial Cycles and Palaeolithic Adaptive Variability on China’s Western Loess Plateau. Antiquity 85:365-379
  • 2010, Bettinger, Robert L., Loukas Barton & Christopher Morgan. The Origins of Agriculture in North China: A Different Kind of Agricultural Revolution. Evolutionary Anthropology 19:9-21
  • 2009, Morgan, Christopher. Climate Change, Uncertainty and Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherer Mobility. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28(4):382-396
  • 2008, Morgan, Christopher. Reconstructing Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherer Foraging Radii: A Case Study from California’s Southern Sierra Nevada. Journal of Archaeological Science 35(2):247-258

For a complete list and electronic copies of all of Morgan's publications, please see his webpages on ResearchGate and on

Recent invited commentary and reviews

  • 2022, Comment on “Scaling of Hunter-Gatherer Camp Size and Human Sociality,” by Jose Lobo, Todd Whitelaw, Luis M.A. Bettencourt, Polly Weissner, Michael E. Smith, and Scott Ortman, Current Anthropology 63(1):68-94
  • 2021, Review of “Alpine Archaeology of Alta Toquima and the Mt. Jefferson Tablelands, Parts 1 and 2.” American Museum of Natural History Anthropological Papers, Number 104. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 41 (1):155-157
  • 2020, Comment on “Archaeological Pitfalls of Storage,” by Brian Hayden, Current Anthropology 61(6):783-784
  • 2020, Review of “Handbook of Evolutionary Research in Archaeology,” edited by Anna Marie Prentiss. American Antiquity 85(4):820-821
  • 2019, Comment on “Forager Mobility in Constructed Environments,” by Randall Haas and Steven L. Kuhn, Current Anthropology 60(4): 521-522.2016


  • Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2006