Wesleyan portrait of Douglas K. Charles

Douglas K. Charles

Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus

Winchester House,


BA University of Chicago
MA Northwestern University
PHD Northwestern University

Douglas K. Charles

Douglas Charles is an archaeologist and biological anthropologist who researches pre-Columbian societies in eastern North America and teaches archaeology, paleoanthropology and human osteology.

My primary research interest is in understanding the complexity of the political economies of foraging/gardening societies, with a focus on pre-Columbian Eastern North American, particularly the Mississippi River drainage of the Eastern Woodlands. I attended an archaeology field school in Illinois during the summer after my sophomore year, and I never really left. A set of secondary interests--human evolution and skeletal biology--stems from my concentration on biological anthropology in graduate school. My first academic appointment was as lecturer in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy in the Medical School at Northwestern University teaching human gross anatomy to first year medical students. Following that, and before coming to Wesleyan, I was a Leverhulme Visiting Fellow in the Department of Archaeology and Prehistory at the University of Sheffield in England where I taught courses on mortuary archaeology and paleopathology.

Selected Publications:


Charles, D. K., and J. E. Buikstra (eds.) (2006) Recreating Hopewell. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

Jeske, R. M., and D. K. Charles (eds.) (2003) Theory, Method, and Practice in Modern Archaeology. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Buikstra, J. E., D. K. Charles, and G. F. M. Rakita (1998) Staging Ritual: Hopewell Ceremonialism at the Mound House Site, Greene County, Illinois, Center for American Archeology, Kampsville Studies in Archeology and History No. 1. Kampsville, IL: Center for American Archeology.

Charles, D. K., S. R. Leigh, and J. E. Buikstra (eds.) (1988) The Archaic and Woodland Cemeteries at the Elizabeth Site in the Lower Illinois Valley. Kampsville Archeological Center Research Series 7. Kampsville, IL: Center for American Archeology.

Articles and chapters:

Charles, D. K. (2013) Grave concerns: The intersection of biological and social approaches to the archaeology of cemeteries. In The Dead Tell Tales: Essays in Honor of Jane E. Buikstra, edited by M. C. Lozada and B. O'Donnabhain, pp. 16-24. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press.

Charles, D. K. (2012) Colorful practices in Hopewellian earthwork construction. Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics 61/62: 343-352.

Charles, D. K. (2012) Origins of the Hopewell phenomenon. In The Oxford Handbook of American Archaeology, edited by T. R. Pauketat, pp. 471-482. New York: Oxford University Press.

King, J. L.,  J. E. Buikstra, and D. K. Charles (2011) Time and archaeological traditions in the lower Illinois valley. American Antiquity 76(3):500-528.

Charles, D. K. (2010) Riverworld: Life and meaning in the Illinois valley. In Hopewell Settlement Patterns, Subsistence, and Symbolic Landscapes, edited by A. M. Byers and D. Wymer, pp. 19-36. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Charles, D. K. (2005) The archaeology of death as anthropology. In Interacting with the Dead: Perspectives on Mortuary Archaeology for the New Millennium, edited by G. F.M. Rakita, J. E. Buikstra, L. A. Beck and S. R. Williams, pp. 15-24. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Ruby, B. J., C. Carr, and D. K. Charles (2005) Community organizations in the Scioto, Mann and Havana Hopewellian regions: A comparative perspective. In Gathering Hopewell: Society, Ritual, And Ritual Interaction, edited by C. Carr and D. Troy Case, pp. 119-176. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishing.

Charles, D. K., J. Van Nest, and J. E. Buikstra (2004) From the earth: Minerals and meaning in the Hopewellian world. In Soil, Stones, and Symbols: Cultural Perceptions of the Mineral World, edited by N. Boivin and M. Owoc, pp. 43-70. London: UCL Press.

Van Gilder, C. L., and D. K. Charles (2003) Archaeology as cultural encounter: The legacy of Hopewell. In Theory, Method, and Practice in Modern Archaeology, edited by R. M. Jeske and D. K. Charles, pp. 114-129. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Charles, D. K., and J. E. Buikstra (2002) Siting, sighting and citing the dead. In The Space and Place of Death, Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, no. 11, edited by H. Silverman and D. Small, pp. 13-25. Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association.

Van Nest, J., D. K. Charles, J. E. Buikstra and D. Asch (2001) Sod blocks in Illinois Hopewell mounds. American Antiquity 66:633-650.

Buikstra, J. E., and D. K. Charles (1999) Centering the ancestors: Cemeteries, mounds and sacred landscapes of the ancient North American Midcontinent. In Archaeologies of  Landscape: Contemporary Perspectives, edited by W. Ashmore and A. B. Knapp, pp. 201-228. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Charles, D. K. (1995) Diachronic regional social dynamics: Mortuary sites in the Illinois Valley/American Bottom region. In Regional Approaches to Mortuary Analysis, edited by L. Beck, pp. 77-99. New York: Plenum.

Charles, D. K. (1992) Woodland demographic and social dynamics in the American Midwest: Analysis of a burial mound survey. World Archaeology 24(2):177-197.

Charles, D. K. (1992) Shading the past: Models in archaeology. American Anthropologist 94(4):905-925.

Charles, D. K., K. Condon, J. M. Cheverud, and J. E. Buikstra (1986) Cementum annulation and age determination in Homo sapiens. I. Tooth variability and observer error. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 71:311-320.

Condon, K., D. K. Charles, J. M. Cheverud, and J. E. Buikstra (1986) Cementum annulation and age determination in Homo sapiens. II. Estimates and accuracy. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 71:321-330.

Charles, D. K., and J. E. Buikstra (1983) Archaic mortuary sites in the central Mississippi drainage: distribution, structure, and behavioral implications. In Archaic Hunters and Gatherers in the American Midwest, edited by J. L. Phillips and J. A. Brown, pp. 117-145. New York, NY: Academic Press.


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