Michael Aiuvalasit




Office Location

Heroy Hall 435






PhD Southern Methodist University 2017

PhD Anthropology, Southern Methodist University
MA Anthropology, Texas A&M University
BA Archaeological Studies, Anthropology, and History, The University of Texas at Austin


My interdisciplinary research examines the relationships between resource management, community sustainability, and the impacts of climate change on socio-ecological systems. In my dissertation, I investigate whether or not the prehispanic water management strategies of Ancestral Pueblo in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico made communities more or less vulnerable to climate change. Through geohydrological modeling, direct geoarchaeological testing of prehispanic artificial water reservoir features, and least cost analysis modeling in GIS of water acquisition costs, I've been able to identify how collective action approaches to water management made some communities vulnerable to climate changes, while others remained resilient. My NSF funded research was undertaken at sites on the Santa Fe National Forest, Bandelier National Monument, and Los Alamos National Laboratory in consultation with descendant communities and managing federal agencies.

While my dissertation research focuses on environmental archaeology in the North American Southwest, I have been involved in geoarchaeological research spanning Paleoindian to Historical archaeological sites across North America. I've published on geoarchaeological investigations of large-scale prehispanic water management systems in Central Mexico. In Texas, I am interested in site formation processes of the Gulf Coastal Plain. In the Eastern United States I am working on a project in the Central Mississippi Valley identifying anthropogenic impacts (both prehistoric and historic) to ecological systems, and I've published on urban geoarchaeology in New York City. Prior to coming to SMU, I worked for 5 years as a consulting geoarchaeologist and authored or co-authored over 40 cultural resource management reports on investigations undertaken in 11 states. Many of these projects were large-scale endeavors or carried out in complicated urban settings, which necessitated predicative modeling of site potential and/or data recovery excavations.

Entered program in 2011

Title of Dissertation: Common Goods in Uncommon Times: Water, Droughts, and the Sustainability of Ancestral Pueblo Communities in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico, AD 1100-1700.

Region of Study:

US Southwest, Texas, Eastern North America, Mexico

Honors and Awards:

Dissertation Writing Fellowship, 2016-2017 (SMU)
Geological Society of America Richard Hay Student Paper Award, 2016
Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute Graduate Fellow, 2014-2015 (SMU)
New Mexico Archaeological Council Research Grant, 2015
Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant awarded by the National Science Foundation, 2014-2015
Douglas C. Kellogg Award, Society for American Archaeology, 2014
Graduate Student Research Grant, Geological Society of America, 2014
Institute for the Study of Earth and Man Graduate Research Grant, 2014 (SMU)
William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies Interdisciplinary Research Grant, 2014 (SMU)
Texas Archaeological Society Donors Fund Research Grant and Council for Texas Archaeologists Student Research Grant, 2005


Neely, J. A., M. Aiuvalasit, and V. Clause
2015    New Light on the Prehistoric Purrón Dam Complex: Small Corporate Group Collaboration in the Tehuacán Valley, Puebla, México. Journal of Field Archaeology 40(3):347-364.

Schuldenrein, Joseph and M. Aiuvalasit
2011    Urban geoarcheology and sustainability: a case study from Manhattan Island, New York City, USA. In Geoarchaeology, Climate Change and Sustainability: Geological Society of America Special Paper 476. Ed. by Brown, A. G., Basell, L. S., and Butzer, K., p. 153-172.

Aiuvalasit, M., J. A. Neely and M. Bateman
2010    New Radiometric dating of water management features at the prehistoric Purrón Dam Complex, Tehuacán Valley, Puebla, México. Journal of Archeological Sciences 37 (6): 1207-1213.

Aiuvalasit, M.
2007    The Geoarchaeology of the McNeill Ranch Site: Implications for Paleoindian Studies of the Gulf Coastal Plain of Texas. Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 78: 47-64.