Christopher Morgan

Chair, Anthropology Department; Don Frazier-Don Fowler Endowed Chair in Prehistoric Great Basin Archaeology; Associate Professor of Anthropology; Faculty member of 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 relate to paleoenvironmental change and the evolution of different types of hunter-gatherer sociocultural organization.

In the America West, he studies the spread 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 is collaborating with the University of Pittsburgh and the National Museum of Mongolia on projects tracking the origins of pastoral economies and the northeast Asian microblade adaptation. In the southern Andes, Morgan has recently become involved in a collaborative project with the San Rafael Natural History Museum looking at 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 more and be sure to visit the department's graduate program.


  • Hunter-gatherer archaeology
  • Human and behavioral ecology
  • Lithic technology
  • GIS
  • Paleoenvironmental reconstruction
  • Cultural resource management
  • Quantitative methods


  • 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 706 - Seminar in Anthropological Problems: Prehistoric Economies
  • Anth 728 - Geoarchaeology
  • Anth 729 - GIS and Archaeology

Recent Publications

  • 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, Loukas Barton, and Robert L. Bettinger. Looking for Behavioral Modernity in Pleistocene Northwestern China. Archaeological Research in Asia.
  • 2017 Morgan, Christopher, Gustavo Neme, Adolfo Gil, Clara Otaola, Nuria 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.
  • 2017 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, edited by Lee Ogelsby. Oxford University Press.
  • 2016 Morgan, Christopher, David C. Harvey and Lukas Trout. Obsidian Conveyance and Late Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherer Mobility as Seen from the High Wind River Range, Wyoming. Plains Anthropologist 61(239):225-249.
  • 2016 Neme, Gustavo, Nuria Sugrañez, Laura Salgán, Adolfo Gil, Clara Otaola, Miguel Giardina, Christopher Morgan and Carina Llano. Risco de Los Indios: Ocupaciones Humanas de Altura en La Cuenca del Río Diamante (Risco de Los Indios: High Elevation Human Occupation in the Diamante River Basin). Relaciones de la Sociedad Argentina de Antropología 41(1):101-130 (in Spanish).
  • 2015 Smith, Geoffrey M. and Christopher Morgan. Plateau and Great Basin. Cultura Antiqua 67(3):57-67 (in Japanese and English).
  • 2015 Morgan, Christopher. Echoes from the Ice Patch: Jim Benedict's Legacy and 21st Century Rocky Mountain Archaeology. Plains Anthropologist 60(246):420-430.
  • 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.
  • 2015 Bettinger, Robert L., Christopher Morgan & Loukas Barton. The North China Nanolithic. In, Lithic Technological Systems and Evolutionary Theory, edited by Nathan Goodale and William Andrefsky, pp. 100-116. Cambridge University Press.
  • 2014 Morgan, Christopher, Robert L. Bettinger and Mark Giambastiani. Aboriginal Alpine Ceremonialism in the White Mountains, California. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 34(2):153-171.
  • 2014 Morgan, Christopher. Was it Euphoria or Oxygen Deprivation? Reflections on Conducting Research in Alpine Settings. The SAA Archaeological Record 14(2):31-35
  • 2014 Morgan, Christopher, Loukas Barton, Xing Gao, Mingjie Yi, Robert Bettinger and Fie Peng. Re-Dating Shuidonggou Locality 1 and Implications for the Initial Upper Paleolithic in East Asia. Radiocarbon 56(1):165-179.
  • 2014 Morgan, Christopher, Ashley Losey and Lukas Trout. Late Holocene Paleoclimate and Treeline Fluctuation in Wyoming's Wind River Range, USA. The Holocene 24(2):209-219

Other representative publications

  • 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 Morgan, Christopher. Numic Expansion in the Southern Sierra Nevada. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 30(2):157-174.
  • 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

Selected Book Reviews

  • 2016 Morgan, Christopher. Review of Late Holocene Research on Foragers and Farmers in the Desert West, edited by Barbara J. Roth and Maxine E. McBrinn. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City. Journal of Anthropological Research 72(1): 108-109.
  • 2016 Allen, Mark W., Tsim D. Schneider, Christopher Morgan, Kathleen L. Hull & Kenneth M. Ames. Structured Tumult: A Review Forum for Robert L. Bettinger's book, Orderly Anarchy: Sociopolitical Evolution in Aboriginal California (one of five invited contributors to this review forum). California Archaeology 8(1):111-125.
  • 2013 Morgan, Christopher. Review of Meetings at the Margins, Prehistoric Cultural Interactions in the Intermountain West, edited by David Rhode. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City. California Archaeology 5(1):139-141.
  • 2013 Morgan, Christopher. Review of Hunter-Gatherer Behavior, Human Response During the Younger Dryas, edited by Metin I. Eren. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, California. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 33(1):106-108.


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