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Faculty

Monica L. Smith


Professor, Navin and Pratima Doshi Chair in Indian Studies


Contact Information

Email    smith@anthro.ucla.edu
Office  329B Haines
Phone  310-794-9179
Research on Cities Past and Present

Cities have become the predominant global mode of life, but their development over the past six thousand years has encompassed amazingly rapid social, economic, and even biological adjustments. My current fieldwork is focused on the Indian subcontinent, where excavations and survey have revealed the complexities of newly-emergent urban environments.  I describe myself as an ancient economic historian who utilizes archaeological data to analyze the collective effects of routine activities through the study of food, ordinary goods, and architecture.

The story of human “civilization” encompasses the actions of many thousands of ordinary individuals.  In the past as in the present, routine and repeated actions produced both monumental architecture and the signature of daily life recorded in humble objects such as pottery, textiles, and other portable goods.  Archaeologists evaluate material objects to understand social and economic configurations.  Even small fragments can reveal aspects such as manufacturing techniques (could the object have been made by anyone, or was a specialist involved who would have been paid?), usages (was the object very worn before discard, or was it relatively new indicating an expectation that it was easily replaceable?), and value (was the object reverently placed in a ritual context, or was it thrown out with the rest of the household garbage?). 

But archaeology isn’t just about “old” things, and an archaeological perspective can help us understand our own modern configurations of material goods and spatial organization.  We can only hold a couple of objects at a time—so what do we do with the rest of our stuff?  In the choice of objects, it is not only money but, increasingly, time that is scarce such that we require a time budget for dealing with the physical world.  What do we choose to display and what is kept hidden?  What is the replacement rate of objects, and from where do we acquire the things that we use?  How and why do we select the foods that we eat, and how they are eaten? What are the relative meanings of a gift, a found object, an inheritance, or an item that we select ourselves?  

Cities are places where human interactions with objects and spaces become particularly intense.  In cities, people have smaller and smaller private spaces as conditions become more crowded, but they also have access to a greater diversity of goods produced by specialists and available from markets, bazaars, and street vendors.  Factors such as style also accelerate consumption and production processes, such that cycles of discard are speeded up.  Archaeological excavations at ancient cities worldwide illustrate massive amounts of garbage, indicating that the development of a “disposable” culture isn’t simply a modern one but a phenomenon closely linked to the development of urbanism. 

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Degrees

Ph.D., University of Michigan (1997)

Awards

Emerald Literati Award for article published in Research in Economic Anthropology (2013) 

Archaeological Dialogues Essay Award, Theoretical Archaeology Group conference (2008) 

Visiting Research Associate, School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe (2007-08) 

Faculty Career Development Award, UCLA (2004) 

UCIS Faculty Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh (2002) 

Regents' Fellowship, University of Michigan (1991-1994) 

Phi Beta Kappa

Grants

American Institute of Indian Studies (2002) 

American Institute of Bangladesh Studies (1997) 

National Science Foundation (1999, 2005, 2012) 

National Geographic Society (1999, 2007) 

UCLA Transdisciplinary Seed Grant (with Thomas W. Gillespie, UCLA Geography; 2012) 

Wenner Gren Foundation (1994, 1999)

Selected Publications

2016 (with Thomas W. Gillespie, Scott Barron, Kanika Kalra and Corey Rovzar) Predictive Modeling for Archaeological Sites: Ashokan Edicts from the Indian Subcontinent.  Current Science 110(10):1916-1921. PDF

2016 Historical and Medieval Period Archaeology. In A Companion to South Asia in the Past, edited by Subhash Walimbe and Gwen Robbins Schug, pp. 332-343.  John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.

2016 (with Thomas W. Gillespie, Scott Barron, and Kanika Kalra) Finding History: The Locational Geography of Ashokan Inscriptions in the Indian Subcontinent. Antiquity 90:376-392. PDF

2016 Urban Infrastructure as Materialized Consensus. World Archaeology 48:164-178. PDF

2015 (with Jaharul Hoque) Excavations at Bhasu Vihara. In Mahasthangarh: Fouilles du Rempart Est, edited by Jean-François Salles, pp. 427-438.  Brepols, Turnhout, Belgium.

2015 Towns and Cities: A Commentary on ‘Performing Towns.’ Invited commentary, Archaeological Dialogues 22(2):146-149. PDF

2015 Consumption. In The Archaeology of Food: An Encyclopedia, edited by Mary C. Beaudry and Karen Metheny, pp. 113-115. Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham, MD.

2015 The Concept of Copies: An Archaeological View of the Terracotta Ornaments from Sisupalgarh, India. West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture 22(1):23-43. PDF

2015 The Origins of the Sustainability Concept: Risk Perception and Resource Management in Early Urban Centers. Research in Economic Anthropology 35:215-238. PDF

2015 Feasts and Their Failures.  Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 22(4):1215-1237. PDF

2014 Citizen Science in Archaeology. American Antiquity 79(4):749-762. PDF

2014 The Archaeology of Urban Landscapes. Annual Review of Anthropology 43:307-323. PDF

2014 (with Rabindra Kumar Mohanty and Timothy Matney) Excavations and Geophysical Survey at the Ancient Early Historic Town of Talapada, Odisha 2013. Man and Environment 39(2):53-63. PDF

2014 (with B.B. Lal and Rabindra Kumar Mohanty) Sisupalgarh. In History of Ancient India Vol. III: The Texts, Political History and Administration Till c. 200 BC, edited by Dilip K. Chakrabarti and Makkhan Lal, pp. 617-628. Aryan Books International, New Delhi. PDF

2013 The Substance and Symbolism of Long-Distance Exchange: Textiles as Desired Trade Goods in the Bronze Age Middle Asian Interaction Sphere. In Connections and Complexity, edited by S.A. Abraham, P. Gullapalli, T.P. Raczek, and U.Z. Rizvi, pp. 143-160. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek CA. PDF

2013 Caste as a Cooperative Economic Entitlement Strategy in Complex Societies of the Indian Subcontinent and Subsaharan Africa. In Cooperation and Collective Action, edited by David M. Carballo, pp. 275-297. University Press of Colorado, Boulder. PDF

2013 (with T. Thakuria, T. Padhan, and R.K. Mohanty) Google Earth as an Archaeological Tool in the Developing World: An Example from India. SAA Archaeological Record 13(1):20-24. PDF

2012 Seeking Abundance: Consumption as a Motivating Factor in Cities Past and Present. Research in Economic Anthropology 32:27-51. PDF

2012 What it Takes to Get Complex: Food, Goods, and Work as Shared Cultural Ideals from the Beginning of Sedentism. In “The Comparative Archaeology of Complex Societies,” edited by Michael E. Smith, pp. 44-61. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. PDF

2011 'I discard, therefore I am': Identity and leave-taking of possessions. Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Chacmool Archaeology Conference, edited by L. Amundsen-Pickering et al., pp. 132-142, University of Calgary. PDF

2011 (With James E. Snead and Elizabeth Baker Brite) A life history of Burnt Corn Pueblo. In Conflagration and Conflict: Tano Origins in the Galisteo Basin, A.D. 1250-1325, edited by James E. Snead and Mark W. Allen. Anthropology Papers of the University of Arizona.

2010 A Prehistory of Ordinary People. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

2010 (With R.K. Mohanty) Investigations at the Early Historic City of Sisupalgarh, India 2005-07. Proceedings of the 19th Meeting of the European Association of South Asian Archaeology, Ravenna, edited by Pierfrancesco Callieri and Luca Colliva, pp. 337-344. British Archaeological Reports, Oxford.

2009 (with Rabindra Kumar Mohanty) Excavations at Sisupalgarh 2008. Man and Environment 34(1):47-56. PDF

2008 (with Rabindra Kumar Mohanty) Excavations at Sisupalgarh, Orissa. Indian Archaeological Society, New Delhi.

2008 Urban empty spaces: Contentious places for consensus-building. Archaeological Dialogues 15(2):216-231. PDF

2008 Food. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 18(1):117-120. PDF

2007 Inconspicuous consumption: Non-display goods and identity formation. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 14:412-438. PDF

2007 Territories, corridors and networks: A biological model for the premodern state. Complexity 12(4):28-35. PDF

2007 (with R.K. Mohanty, T. Matney, A. Donkin and G. Greene) Archaeological research at Sisupalgarh 2007: An Early Historical City in Orissa. Puratattva (Journal of the Indian Archaeological Society) 37:142-154.)

2007 (with R.K. Mohanty and T. Matney) A Preliminary Report of the Archaeological Investigations at Sisupalgarh 2006. Man and Environment 32(1):57-66.

2007 (with R.K. Mohanty) Excavations at Sisupalgarh 2005-06. Bulletin of the Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute 66-67:191-198.

2006 The archaeology of South Asian cities. Journal of Archaeological Research 14(2):97-142. PDF

2006 The archaeology of food preference. American Anthropologist 108(3):480-493. PDF

2006 How ancient agriculturalists managed yield fluctuations through crop selection and reliance on wild plants: an example from Central India. Economic Botany 60(1):39-48. PDF

2006 (with R.K. Mohanty) Excavations at Sisupalgarh 2005. Man and Environment 31(1):27-32.

2005 Networks, territories and the cartography of ancient states. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 95(4):832-849. PDF

2005 Archaeological research at Sisupalgarh, an Early Historic city in eastern India. South Asian Archaeology 2003, edited by B. Vogt. European Association of South Asian Archaeologists, KAVA, Bonn, pp 291-300.

2004 (with Jaharul Haque and Nilka Dabare) Excavations at the Buddhist Monastic Site of Bhasu Vihara, Bangladesh. Antiquity 78. link

2003 (editor) The Social Construction of Ancient Cities, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C.

2002 Systematic survey at the Early Historic urban site of Sisupalgarh, Orissa. In Archaeology of Eastern India: New Perspectives, edited by Gautam Sengupta and Sheena Panja, pp. 109-125. Centre for Archaeological Studies and Training, East India, Kolkata.

2002 The role of local trade networks in the Indian subcontinent during the Early Historic period. Man and Environment 27(1):139-151. PDF

2002 The Historic Period at Bandelier National Monument. National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

2001 The Archaeology of an Early Historic Town in Central India. British Archaeological Reports, Oxford.

2001 The archaeological hinterlands of Mahasthangarh: Observations and potential for future research. In France-Bangladesh Joint Venture Excavations at Mahasthangarh First Interim Report 1993-1999, edited by Md. Shafiqul Alam and Jean-François Salles, pp. 61-73. Department of Archaeology, Bangladesh. PDF

2001 Integración social, espacial y económica en las antiguas ciudades del subcontinente Indio, translated by M.a Josefa Iglesias Ponce de León and Andrés Ciudad Ruiz. In Reconstruyendo la Ciudad Maya: El Urbanismo en las Sociedades Antiguas, edited by Andrés Ciudad Ruiz, M.a Josefa Iglesias Ponce de León and M.a del Carmen Martínez Martínez, pp. 503-522. Sociedad Española de Estudios Mayas, Madrid.

2001 The archaeology of a "destroyed" site: Surface survey and historical documents at the Civilian Conservation Corps camp, Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico. Historical Archaeology 35(2):31-40. PDF

2001 Excavation of a large building in an area of pottery production on the upper slopes of Dhahret Slama (Site 251). Leptiminus (Lamta) Report No. 2: The East Baths, Cemeteries, Kilns, Venus Mosaic, Site Museum, and other studies, edited by L.M. Stirling, D.J. Mattingly, and N. Ben Lazreg, Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series No. 14, pp. 237-249.

2001 A water-collecting area on Dhahret Slama ridge (Site 76). Leptiminus (Lamta) Report No. 2: The East Baths, Cemeteries, Kilns, Venus Mosaic, Site Museum, and other studies, edited by L.M. Stirling, D.J. Mattingly, and N. Ben Lazreg, Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series No. 14, pp. 253-258.

2000 Systematic surface survey at the Early Historic site of Kaundinyapura, India. Man and Environment 25(1):75-87. PDF

2000 Bangladesh: Building national identity through archaeology. Antiquity 74:701-706. PDF

2000 Economic and social interactions at an Early Historic site: Recent fieldwork at Kaundinyapura, India. In South Asian Archaeology 1997, volume II, edited by Maurizio Taddei and Giuseppe de Marco, pp. 793-810. Istituto per l'Africa e l'Oriente, Rome.

1999 The role of ordinary goods in premodern exchange. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 6(2): 109-135. PDF

1999 "Indianization" from the Indian point of view: Trade and cultural contacts with Southeast Asia in the early first millennium C.E. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 42(1):1-26. PDF

1997 The dynamic realm of the Indian Ocean: A review. Asian Perspectives 36(2):245-259. PDF

Research

Urbanism, economic networks, consumption and material culture, anthropology of food, comparative historical archaeology; South Asia, Mediterranean, Southwestern U.S.

Graduate Students

Steven Ammerman is a Ph.D. student examining the role of domestic and wild animals in ancient urban societies with a focus on the Early Historic period of the Indian subcontinent. His M.A. paper examined the theory and longitudinal history of human interactions with wild, domesticated, and feral animals.

Dr. Stephanie Salwen completed her dissertation in 2017 on the landscape effects and human-environmental dynamics of rivers in North America. 

Dr. Kanika Kalra completed her dissertation in 2016 and is Assistant Professor in the Jyoti Dalal School of Liberal Arts at NMIMS in Mumbai, India.  Her dissertation was on the social and economic organization of water management in the early medieval period in India. Her M.A. paper examined the social and economic configuration of the medieval town of Harnol in northern India. 

Dr. Elizabeth Baker Brite completed her dissertation in 2011 and is Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of Engaged Learning at Purdue University Honors College.  Her dissertation was based on her fieldwork in Uzbekistan at an early fortified settlement, examining the nature of social and economic continuities under conditions of political collapse. Her M.A. examined the political and economic context of wall painting at the site of Kazakhl'i-yatkan in Uzbekistan. 

Dr. Elizabeth Mullane, now with the Offices of Medical Education at the University of North Carolina,  completed her dissertation in 2009 on the application of modeling (specifically, self-organizing systems) to archaeological cultures of variable complexity. Her M.A. evaluated the growth of trade and social interactions from the Iron Age through the Roman period in the Kahramanmarash Valley, Turkey. 

Current Courses by Term

2017 Fall Quarter

Directed Research or Senior Project in Food Studies

Previous Courses by Term

2017 Spring Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Selected Topics in Social Anthropology

2016 Fall Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

Archaeology of Urbanism

2016 Spring Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

Cities Past and Present

2015 Fall Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Selected Topics in Anthropological/Archaeological Theory

2015 Spring Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Honors Seminars

Archaeology of South Asia

2014 Fall Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Graduate Core Seminar: Archaeology

2013 Spring Quarter

Archaeology of Urbanism

2012 Fall Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Honors Seminars

Cities Past and Present

Teaching Apprentice Practicum

2012 Spring Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

Honors Seminars

Historical Archaeology: World Perspective

2011 Fall Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Graduate Core Seminar: Archaeology

2011 Spring Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

Honors Seminars

Archaeology of South Asia

2010 Fall Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Cities Past and Present

2010 Spring Quarter

Archaeology of South Asia

2009 Fall Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Honors Seminars

2009 Spring Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

Cities Past and Present

2008 Fall Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Graduate Core Seminar: Archaeology

2008 Spring Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

2007 Spring Quarter

Archaeology of South Asia

Selected Laboratory Topics in Archaeology

2006 Fall Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Graduate Core Seminar: Archaeology

2006 Spring Quarter

Cities Past and Present

Regional Analysis in Archaeology

2005 Fall Quarter

Archaeology: An Introduction

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Selected Topics in Anthropological/Archaeological Theory

2005 Spring Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Archaeology of South Asia

2004 Spring Quarter

Cities Past and Present

2003 Fall Quarter

Archaeology: An Introduction

Archaeology of South Asia

2003 Spring Quarter

Archaeology: An Introduction

Fiat Lux Seminar

Previous Courses by Course

ANTHRO 19
Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

2017 Spring Quarter

2015 Fall Quarter

2015 Spring Quarter

2014 Fall Quarter

2012 Fall Quarter

2011 Fall Quarter

2010 Fall Quarter

2009 Fall Quarter

2008 Fall Quarter

2008 Spring Quarter

2006 Fall Quarter

2005 Fall Quarter

2005 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 157
Selected Topics in Social Anthropology

2017 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 217A
Archaeology of Urbanism

2016 Fall Quarter

2013 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 8
Archaeology: Introduction

2016 Fall Quarter

2016 Spring Quarter

2015 Spring Quarter

2012 Fall Quarter

2012 Spring Quarter

2011 Spring Quarter

2009 Fall Quarter

2009 Spring Quarter

2006 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO 119P
Cities Past and Present

2016 Spring Quarter

2012 Fall Quarter

2010 Fall Quarter

2009 Spring Quarter

2006 Spring Quarter

2004 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 285P
Selected Topics in Anthropological/Archaeological Theory

2015 Fall Quarter

2005 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO 89
Honors Seminars

2015 Spring Quarter

2012 Fall Quarter

2012 Spring Quarter

2011 Spring Quarter

2009 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO 116
Archaeology of South Asia

2015 Spring Quarter

2011 Spring Quarter

2010 Spring Quarter

2007 Spring Quarter

2005 Spring Quarter

2003 Fall Quarter

ARCHEOL M201A
Graduate Core Seminar: Archaeology

2014 Fall Quarter

2011 Fall Quarter

2008 Fall Quarter

2006 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO M201A
Graduate Core Seminar: Archaeology

2014 Fall Quarter

2011 Fall Quarter

2008 Fall Quarter

2006 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO 375
Teaching Apprentice Practicum

2012 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO M115A
Historical Archaeology: World Perspective

2012 Spring Quarter

HIST M102A
Historical Archaeology: World Perspective

2012 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO M212S
Selected Laboratory Topics in Archaeology

2007 Spring Quarter

ARCHEOL M205A
Selected Laboratory Topics in Archaeology

2007 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 117P
Selected Laboratory Topics in Archaeology

2007 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO M211
Regional Analysis in Archaeology

2006 Spring Quarter

ARCHEOL M201C
Regional Analysis in Archaeology

2006 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 8
Archaeology: An Introduction

2005 Fall Quarter

2003 Fall Quarter

2003 Spring Quarter

HNRS 98
Fiat Lux Seminar

2003 Spring Quarter