Professor of Anthropology
University of South Florida


About Me




I am anthropological archaeologist with a research focus on the understanding of small-scale social formations. I focus particularly on the Native American societies of the Woodland period (ca. 1000 BC to AD 1050) in the American Southeast, and especially those of the Swift Creek and Weeden Island cultures of the Gulf Coast. However, research opportunities take me from much older time periods (the Archaic period) to the relatively recent past (colonial era Florida and even twentieth century Tampa).

My research on the Woodland societies of the Gulf Coast informs broader questions regarding societies of emerging social hierarchy. How did larger, more complex social groups develop from the sort of small-scale, relatively egalitarian social formations that have characterized the vast majority of human history? How did people negotiate life—including both the management of resources and the inherent tension between the wants of individuals and the needs of collective groups—in the first permanent villages? How are these historical processes encapsulated in the patterning of material culture at various social and temporal scales: from the distribution of sites on a landscape over the longue duree (settlement archaeology), to the arrangement of structures and monuments within a site at intermediate temporal scales (the archaeology of communities), and, finally, to the more eventful configuration of houses and domestic features (household archaeology)? I address these questions through methodological specialties in GIS, ceramics, and shallow geophysics.


USF grad students with interpretive signs developed for a public archaeology day in downtown Tampa.

 The Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida is one of the nation's oldest applied anthropology programs, and the first in the nation to offer an MA in Public Archaeology. My teaching reflects the Department’s commitment to practical applications that help us to both understand the past and benefit contemporary and future societies. I bring my extensive experience outside of academia not only to lower-level, general education classes such as Archaeology, but also to upper-level classes like North American Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, and Laboratory Methods. At the graduate level, I regularly teach the required course in Public Archaeology as well as other specialized courses. 


Demonstrating the use of the GPR for Tampa's former mayor Bob Buckhorn at historic Oakland Cemetery.

As an applied anthropologist and public archaeologist, I provide service to the community and the profession through a variety of means. I am the PI for the Central and West Central Regional offices of the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN), and current Vice-President of the Florida Archaeological Council. I am also the former Editor of Southeastern Archaeology (the journal of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference) and Early Georgia (the journal of the Society for Georgia Archaeology).

Thomas J. Pluckhahn

Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, SOC 107, Tampa, FL 33620, USA

(813) 974-2138

Drop me a line!


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