Aaron Comstock, PhD

Assistant Professor


I am an anthropological archaeologist whose research focuses on societal adaptations to climate change and the spread of agricultural lifeways, particularly among precontact societies of the North American Midcontinent. I have conducted work in the Midwest since my first field school in 2006, which inspired a lifelong passion for archaeological fieldwork and learning about the rich and complex lives of the people who lived in this region. My ongoing field and laboratory research investigates the earliest villages of maize (corn) agriculturalists who lived in the Middle Ohio Valley approximately 1,000 years ago. I am driven by questions like: when, why, and how did people start farming, and what impacts did this have on society? How did this transition change the relationship between people and their environments? What impact did climatological shifts like the Medieval Climate Anomaly and subsequent Little Ice Age have on these nascent farmers? More recently, collaborations with academic and Tribal colleagues have led to questions like how can archaeology be used as one way in which we can help decolonize anthropology in North America?

I consider myself an archaeological generalist, meaning that I have significant experience in survey and excavation, and in analyzing a variety of forms of material culture. Saying something supportable about how people lived in the past requires archaeologists to be holistic in our pursuits, and I attempt to bring as many pieces to this puzzle as possible. This includes everything from GIS/spatial analysis, to the analysis of pottery, animal bones, and stone tools, to incorporating ethnohistoric sources as lines of evidence. This type of interdisciplinarity is a key strength of archaeology and continues to make it personally and professionally rewarding.

If you're interested in anthropology, archaeology, and/or student research please contact me! I am always interested in chatting about these topics and advising student research – both at undergraduate and graduate levels. I plan to teach regularly archaeological field schools in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, and currently teach a collaborative Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA) Certified Field School that runs through the summer of 2024 in Anderson Township, Ohio.

Research interests: Archaeology of Eastern North America, Fort Ancient, Mississippian, climate change, migration, transition to agriculture, lithic analysis, ceramic analysis, zooarchaeology, GIS/spatial analysis.