Lisa A. Maher

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Lisa A. Maher

Assistant Professor |Archaeology
Office: 204 ARF; Lab: 1 Kroeber
Office Hours
Tuesdays and Thursdays 2-3pm, and by appointment
Please contact me at least one day prior to schedule a block of time.

Current/Future Courses


Fall 2017 |Undergraduate

Freshman Seminar

Fall 2017 |Undergraduate

Analysis of the Archaeological Record

Spring 2017 |Undergraduate

Special Interests

Prehistoric Archaeology, Eastern Mediterranean & Africa, Human-Environment Interactions, Geoarchaeology, Hunter-Gatherers, Lithic Technology and Analysis, Archaeological Approaches to Technology, Emergence of Social Complexity


At Berkeley, I direct the Geoarchaeology and Southwest Asia Prehistory Laboratory (Room 1, Kroeber Hall), which houses archaeological material from the Eastern Mediterranean (specializing in Jordanian prehistory), contemporary experimental lithic collections, and an archive/reference collection of micromorphological slides from a variety of sites worldwide. Ongoing research includes geoarchaeological (e.g., micromorphology) and artifact analysis (lithics), alongside conserving and curating archaeological collections and conducting experimental lithic technology research. I train undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in geoarchaeology (particularly micromorphology and petrography) and lithic technology and analysis. As a powerful technique for exploring the often ephemeral traces of human activity and reconstructing site formation processes on-site and landscape use off-site, micromorphology features prominently in many recent research programs, including household archaeology on Hawaii, identifying agricultural landscapes in Islamic Zanzibar, and reconstructing life histories of Mayan ritual caches in Belize. Lab facilities include petrographic and stereoscopic microscopes for micromorphological analysis, imaging and computing facilities, as well as equipment for the study of lithic technology and experimental lithic production.

In conjunction with my lab, I conduct research and train students in the Soils and Imaging Labs at the Archaeological Research Facility ( in the geoarchaeological analysis of archaeological sediments and soils, including in flotation, particle size analysis, pedology, geochemical analyses (LOI, phosphates, C, Ca, N), microstratigraphy, remote sensing, and petrography. In addition, through the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, students have access to SEM and XRF facilities.

My research focuses on hunter-gatherer societies in the eastern Mediterranean (including Near East, North Africa and Arabia) with the aim of reconstructing human-environment interactions during the Late Pleistocene. The transition between hunting and gathering and farming in this region is well-studied, but tends to focus on the later Neolithic as heralding the beginnings of a series of significant changes in human social organization, economy, technological innovation, and ideology. However, I am interested in the periods leading up to farming – the 10,000 years or so prior – when these changes first manifest in the archaeological record in the form of intensified plant use, increased sedentism and population aggregations, architecture, complex site organization, far-reaching social interaction networks, and elaborate mortuary practices. Notably, it is during these periods, the Epipalaeolithic and the early Neolithic, when we see significant changes in human behavior with the intersection ofregional-scale climate change and humans asagents of landscape change.

To investigate the social and environmental precursors to later sedentism and farming, I work at several Epipalaeolithic sites in Jordan that provide a record of the Early and Middle Epipalaeolithic people living in the region during the Late Pleistocene. Here, the evidence for protracted cultural and biological continuity highlights that culture changes associated with the ‘origins of agriculture’ are not dramatic in nature and appear earlier than previously thought. This evidence supports a paradigm shift in our understanding of the origins of the agriculture, which we now interpret as a long-term culturally-dynamic process. I conduct this work with a regional landscape theme that integrates geoarchaeological, cultural, and biological datasets. In particular, I combine the geoarchaeological study of site-formation processes and landscape change (through geomorphology and soil micromorphology) and the material culture and social aspects of Epipalaeolithic sites at a variety of scales. I am interested in how landscapes are integrated into social spheres and how they participate in the creation, maintenance and transformation of prehistoric communities.

My work also has a prominent public archaeology component, working closely with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, local communities, and non-governmental agencies to promote archaeological resource sustainability and to integrate our findings with local initiatives for heritage and habitat conservation. We host community open days and invite school groups to participate in our research. One of my field sites is near Jordan’s last remaining large wetlands, which is now rapidly shrinking. Our research on changing environments and aridity in prehistory has thus become increasingly relevant to the concerns of local communities in Jordan today.

Beyond my own projects, I conduct micromorphological and lithic specialist work for several other archaeological projects in the region and elsewhere, including:

Late Epipalaeolithic and Early Neolithic Occupation of the Black Desert, Jordan (with T. Richter, University of Copenhagen,

Prehistoric Investigations in the Jebel Qalkha Area, Southern Jordan (with S. Kadowaki, Nagoya University Museum)

Azraq Marshes Archaeological and Palaeo-ecological Project, Jordan (with C. Ames and A. Nowell, University of Victoria)

Neolithic Seker al-Aheimar, Syria (with Y. Nishiaki, University of Tokyo Museum)

Archaeological Investigations at Neolithic Göytepe, Azerbaijan (with Y. Nishiaki, University of Tokyo Museum)

Long-Term Sustainability through Place-Based, Small-Scale Economies: Micromorphology at the Jomon Sites of Goshizawa Matsumori and Sannai Maruyama (with J. Habu, RIHN Kyoto,

Grassridge Archaeological and Palaeoenvironmental Project (joined 2016) (with Chris Ames, University of Victoria, and Ben Collins, University of Manitoba,,

The Kültepe-Kanesh Excavation Project, Kayseri, Turkey (with F. Kolakoğlu, Ankara University and L. Atici, University of Nevada, Las Vegas,

Micromorphology of the Stege Shellmound Site, Richmond, CA (with P. Nelson, UC Berkeley)

For these projects I examine microstratigraphic traces of in situ occupation, including the construction and use of Palaeolithic hut structures, Neolithic architecture, evidence for food processing and storage, disposal patterns of obsidian workshops, refuse disposal patterns and use of public spaces in early urban contexts, as well as reconstruct site-formation processes.


I received my Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Following this I joined the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies and Department of Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge as Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow from 2005-2007. I was a Research Associate in Cambridge for a further four years, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Britain, to launch a collaborative research project in the eastern desert of Jordan called the Epipalaeolithic Foragers in Azraq Project (EFAP). The project continues at Berkeley with the excavation of the 20,000-year-old hunter-gatherer aggregation site of Kharaneh IV (,

I maintain ties to both Toronto and Cambridge through several research projects. I continue to direct fieldwork at a Middle Epipalaeolithic occupation and cemetery site in northern Jordan as part of the Wadi Ziqlab Project. EFAP ( is now conducting regular field and study seasons at the Early and Middle Epipalaeolithic aggregation site of Kharaneh IV and includes collaborators Danielle Macdonald (University of Tulsa,, Tobias Richter (University of Copenhagen,, Jay Stock (University of Cambridge,,, and Louise Martin (UCL,

Beyond my position in Anthroplogy, I am the Book Review Editor for Geoarchaeology ( I am also an Assistant Curator of Lithic Collections at the Pheobe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology (, Faculty Affiliate of the Archaeological Research Facility ( and Center for Middle Eastern Studies ( at UC Berkeley, and an Adjunct member of the Graduate Faculty in the Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto (

Representative Publications

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Ramsey, M.N., L.A. Maher, D. Macdonald and A. Rosen (2016) Risk, Reliability and Resilience: Phytolith Evidence for Alternative ‘Neolilithization’ Pathways at Kharaneh IV in the Azraq Basin, Jordan. PLoS-ONE11(10): e0164081. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0164081.

Maher, L., T. Richter, D. Macdonald, M. Jones, J. Stock, L. Martin and A. Allentuck (2016) Occupying Wide Open Spaces? Late Pleistocene Hunter-Gatherer Activities in the Eastern Levant. Late Quaternary Landscape Change in the Levant: Social, Technological and Economic Investigations in Open Spaces. Special Issue for Quaternary International 396: 79-94.

Jones, M., L. Maher, D. Macdonald, C. Ryan, C. Rambeau and T. Richter(2016) The Environmental Setting of Epipalaeolithic Kharaneh IV. Late Quaternary Landscape Change in the Levant: Social, Technological and Economic Investigations in Open Spaces. Special Issue for Quaternary International 396: 95-104.

Maher, Lisa A.and Danielle A. Macdonald (2014). Kharaneh IV Excavation Project. In Archaeology in Jordan 2012 and 2013 Seasons, G. Corbett, D. Keller, B. Porter, and C. Tuttle (eds.). American Journal of Archaeology, 118(4), 634-636.

Maher, L. (2014) Comment on ‘The sounds of pounding: Boulder mortars and their significance to Natufian burial customs’ by D. Rosenberg and D. Nadel. Current Anthropology 55(6): 803-804.

Maher, L., D. Macdonald, A. Alaica and E.B. Banning (2014). Two Early Epipalaeolithic Sites in Wadi Taiyiba, Northern Jordan. Paléorient 40(1): 73-97.

Kadowaki, S., L. Maher, M. Portillo, R.M. Albert, C. Akashi, F. Guliyev, Y. Nishiaki (2014) Geoarchaeological and palaeobotanical evidence for prehistoric cereal storage at the Neolithic settlement of Göytepe (mid 8th millennium BP) in the southern Caucasus. Journal of Archaeological Science 53: 408-425.

Richter, T. and L. Maher (2013) Terminology, Process and Change: Reflections on the Epipalaeolithic of Southwest Asia. Levant 45(2): 121-132.

Richter, T., L. Maher, K. Edinborough, A. Garrard, M. Jones, and J.T. Stock (2013) Epipalaeolithic settlement dynamics in southwest Asia: new radiocarbon evidence from the Azraq Basin. Journal of Quaternary Science 28(5): 467-479, doi: 10.1002/jqs2629.

Maher, L., T. Richter, D. Macdonald, M. Jones, L. Martin and J. T. Stock (2012) Twenty Thousand-Year-Old Huts at a Hunter-Gatherer Settlement in Eastern Jordan. PLoS-ONE 7(2): e31447. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031447.

Maher, L., T. Richter, and J. Stock (2012) The Pre-Natufian Epipalaeolithic: Long-Term Behavioral Trends in the Levant. Evolutionary Anthropology 21: 69-81.

Diaz, A., L. Maher, T. O’Connell, and J. Stock (2012) Subsistence and Mobility Strategies in the Epipalaeolithic of Jordan: A Stable Isotope Study at Uyun al-Hammam. Journal of Archaeological Science 39: 1984-1992.

Maher, L. and D. Macdonald (2012) Exploring Typo-technological Diversity in Chipped Stone from Epipalaeolithic Kharaneh IV, Eastern Jordan. CBRL Bulletin 7(1): 42-59. doi: 10.1179/1752726012Z.0000000006.

Maher, L., T. Richter, M. Jones and J.T. Stock (2011) The Epipalaeolithic Foragers in Azraq Project: Prehistoric Landscape Change in the Azraq Basin, Eastern Jordan. CBRL Bulletin 6: 21-27.

Maher, L. (2011) Reconstructing Palaeolandscapes and Prehistoric Occupation in Wadi Ziqlab, Northern Jordan. Geoarchaeology 26(5): 649-692.

Maher, L., J. Stock, S. Finney, J. Haywood, P. Miracle and E.B. Banning (2011) A Unique Human-Fox Burial from a Pre-Natufian Cemetery in the Levant (Jordan). PLoS-ONE 6(1): e15815. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015815.

Maher, L., E.B. Banning and M. Chazan (2011) Oasis or Mirage? Assessing the Role of Abrupt Climate Change in the Prehistory of the Southern Levant. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 21(1): 1-29.

Richter, T., A. Garrard, S. Allcock, and L. Maher (2011) Interaction Before Agriculture: Exchanging Material and Shared Knowledge in the Final Pleistocene Levant. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 21(1): 95-114.

Richter, T., J.T. Stock, L. Maher, and C. Hebron (2010) An Early Epipalaeolithic Sitting Burial from the Azraq Oasis, Eastern Jordan. Antiquity 84: 1-14.

Richter, T., S. Allcock, M. Jones, L. Maher, L. Martin, J. Stock and B. Thorne (2010) New light on Final Pleistocene settlement diversity in the Azraq Basin: some preliminary results from Ayn Qasiyah. Paléorient 35(2): 49-68.

Lahr, M.M., R. Foley, F. Crivellaro, M. Okumura, L. Maher, T. Davies, D. Veldhuuis, A. Wilshaw, and D. Mattingly (2009) DMP IV: Preliminary results from 2009 fieldwork on the human prehistory of the Libyan Sahara. Libyan Studies 40: 133-153.

Lahr, M.M., R. Foley, S. Armitage, H. Barton, F. Crivellaro, N. Drake, M. Hounslow, L. Maher, D. Mattingly, M. Salem, J. Stock and K. White (2008) DMPIII: Pleistocene and Holocene palaeoenvironments and prehistoric occupation of Fazzan, Libyan Sahara. Libyan Studies 39: 263-294.

Lahr, M.M., H. Barton, F. Crivellaro, R. Foley, L. Maher, J. Stock (2007) The central Saharan route out of sub-Saharan Africa: Palaeolithic and palaeoanthropological research. In Desert Migrations: people, environment and culture in the Libyan Sahara (by Mattingly, D., M.M.Lahr, S. Armitage, H. Barton, J. Dore, N. Drake, R. Foley, S. Merlo, M. Salem, J. Stock and K. White) Libyan Studies 38: 122-136.

Kuijt, I., W. Finlayson, N. Goodale, S. Denis, S. Smith, L. Maher, S. Kadowaki, and T. Aprin (2003) Dhra’ Excavation Project, 2002 Interim Report. Levant 35: 1-38.

Maher, L. and E.B. Banning (2002) Geoarchaeological Survey and the Epipalaeolithic in Northern Jordan. Antiquity 76: 313-314.

Maher, L., M. Lohr, M. Betts, C. Parslow and E.B. Banning (2001) Middle Epipalaeolithic Sites in Wadi Ziqlab, Northern Jordan. Paléorient 27(1): 5-19.

Maher, L., G.J. Borradaile and M. O’Connor (2000) The Romanesque Frieze at Lincoln Cathedral (England)–Primary or Secondary Insertion? Magnetic Considerations. Archaeometry 42(1): 225-236.

Borradaile, G.J., T. Lane, F. Lagroix, L. Maher, T. Lane, P. Linford and N. Linford (1999) Attempts to Date Salt-Making Activity in Iron Age Britain using Magnetic Inclinations. Journal of Archaeological Science 26(11): 1377-1389.

Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters

Maher, L.(2017) Late Quaternary Refugia, Aggregations and Palaeoenvironments in the Azraq Basin. In Quaternary Environments, Climate Change and Humans in the Levant, O. Bar-Yosef and Y. Enzel (eds.). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 679-689.

Jones, M., L. Maher, T. Richter, D. Macdonald and L. Martin (2017) Human-Environment Interactions through the Epipalaeolithic of Eastern Jordan. In Correlation is not Enough: Building Better Arguments in the Archaeology of Human-Environment Interactions, D. Contreras (ed.). Routledge: New York, pp. 121-140.

Maher, L. (2016)A Road Well-Travelled? Exploring Terminal Pleistocene Hunter-Gatherer Activities, Networks and Mobility in Eastern Jordan. In Archaeology of the Palaeolithic-Neolithic of Eurasia: Papers in Honor of Andrew M.T. Moore, M. Chazan and K. Lillios (eds.). Sidestone Press: Leiden, pp. 49-75.

Maher, L., T. Richter, J.T. Stock and M. Jones (2014) Preliminary Results from Recent Excavations at the Epipalaeolithic Site of Kharaneh IV, In Jordan’s Prehistory: Past and Future Research, M. Jamhawi (ed.). Department of Antiquities of Jordan, Amman, pp. 81-92.

Richter, T., M. Jones, L. Maher, and J.T. Stock (2014) The Early and Middle Epipalaeolithic in the Azraq Oasis: Excavations at Ain Qasiyya and AWS-48, In Jordan’s Prehistory: Past and Future Research, M. Jamhawi (ed.). Department of Antiquities of Jordan, Amman, pp. 93-108.

Maher, L. and D. Macdonald (2013) Assessing typo-technological variability in Epipalaeolithic assemblages: Preliminary results from two case studies from the Southern Levant. In: The State of Stone: Terminologies, Continuities and Contexts in Near Eastern Lithics. Studies in Early Near Eastern Production, Subsistence and Environment 14, F. Borrell, M. Molist and J.J. Ibanez (eds.). Ex oriente: Berlin, pp. 29-44.

Richter, T. and L. Maher (2013) The Natufian of the Azraq Basin: An Appraisal. In Natufian Foragers in the Levant: Terminal Pleistocene Social Changes in Western Asia, O. Bar-Yosef and F. Valla (eds). International Monographs in Prehistory: Ann Arbor, pp. 429-448.

Maher, L. and T. Richter (2011) PPN Predecessors: Current Issues in Late Pleistocene Chipped Stone Analyses in the Southern Levant. In The State of Stone: Terminologies, Continuities and Contexts in Near Eastern Lithics. Studies in Early Near Eastern Production, Subsistence and Environment 13, E. Healey, S. Campbell and O. Maeda (eds). Ex oriente: Berlin, pp. 25-31.

Maher, L. (2010) People and their places at the end of the Pleistocene: evaluating perspectives on physical and cultural landscape change. In Landscapes in Transition: understanding hunter-gatherer and farmer landscapes in the early Holocene of Europe and the Levant, W. Finlayson and G. Warren (eds.). Oxbow Books: London, pp. 34-45.

Maher, L. (2009) The Late Pleistocene of Arabia in Relation to the Levant. In The Evolution and History of Human Populations in Arabia: Paleoenvironments, Prehistory and Genetics, Vertebrate Paleobiology, Paleontology 187, M. Petraglia and J. Rose (eds.), Springer: New York, pp. 187-202. 

Maher, L. (2007) Microliths and Mortuary Practices: New Perspectives on the Epipalaeolithic in Northern and Eastern Jordan. Book chapter in Crossing Jordan: North American Contributions to the Archaeology of Jordan, T.E. Levy, M. Daviau, R.W. Younker, and M. Shaer (eds.), Equinox: London, pp. 195-202.

Other Publications

Maher, L. (2017) Geoarchaeology. In The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology, D. Richardson, N. Castree, M.F. Goodchild, A.L. Kobayashi, W. Liu and R. Marton (eds.). Wiley-Blackwell: New Jersey.

Maher, L. (2013) The Epipalaeolithic Period. In Atlas de Jordanie, M. Ababsa (ed.). Institut Français du Proche-Orient: Amman.

Richter, T., S. Colledge, S. Luddy, L. Maher, D.Jones, M. Jones and R. Kelly (2008) Preliminary Report on the 2006 Season at Epipalaeolithic Ayn Qasiyya, Azraq ash-Shishan. Annual of Department of Antiquities of Jordan (ADAJ) 51: 313-328.

Maher, L., T. Richter and D. Jones (2007) Archaeological Survey at the Epipalaeolithic site of al-Kharaneh IV. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (ADAJ) 51: 257-262.

Maher, L. (2007) 2005 Excavations at the Geometric Kebaran Site of `Uyun al-Hammam, Al Koura District, Jordan. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (ADAJ) 51:263-272.

Banning, E.B., K. Gibbs, M. Gregg, S. Kadowaki and L. Maher (2005) Al-Basatîn, Wadi Ziqlab, Jordan. In Archaeology in Jordan, edited by S. Savage and K. Zamora. American Journal of Archaeology 109: 530-532.

Maher, L. (2005) Recent Excavations at the Middle Epipalaeolithic Encampment of `Uyun al-Hammam, Northern Jordan. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 49: 101-114.

Banning, E.B., K. Gibbs, M. Gregg, S. Kadowaki and L. Maher (2004) Excavations at a Late Neolithic site in Wadi Ziqlab, northern Jordan. Antiquity 78(302): Project Gallery.

Maher, L. and E.B. Banning (2003) Excavations at a Geometric Kebaran Site in Wadi Ziqlab, northern Jordan. Antiquity 77(295): Project Gallery.

Maher, L. (2003) Wadi Ziqlab Survey. In Archaeology in Jordan, edited by S.H. Savage, K.A. Zamora and D.R. Keller. American Journal of Archaeology 107: 449-451.

Banning, E.B. and L. Maher (2001) Wadi Ziqlab Survey. In Archaeology in Jordan 2001, S. Savage, K.A. Zamora, and D.R. Keller (eds.). American Journal of Archaeology 105(3): 427-429.

Maher, L. and E.B. Banning (2001) Geoarchaeological Survey in Wadi Ziqlab, Jordan. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 45: 61-70.