Dr. R. P. Stephen Davis
Research Laboratories of Archaeology,
and Professor of Anthropology
For the past 35 years, my research has focused on the early history of Native Americans in the American South and particularly on the impact of European colonization on native peoples in Virginia and the Carolinas during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries. This research has been conducted as two long-term projects. The first of these is the Siouan Project, which explored more than a dozen late precontact and early contact-period sites in north-central North Carolina to identify and explain the patterns and processes of culture change that accompanied the first encounters with English explorers and traders in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. This research, undertaken between 1983 and 2002 in collaboration with H. Trawick Ward and Roy S. Dickens, Jr., was supported by major grants from the National Geographic Society and the National Science Foundation.
In 2001, Brett H. Riggs and I began a second long-term project—the Catawba Project—to study the emergence of the Catawba Nation through a process of coalescence in the early eighteenth century and to document the Nation’s social, economic, and political transformation during the late Colonial and early Federal periods. Toward this end and with support of the University of North Carolina, the National Geographic Society, South Carolina state government, and private industry, the project has conducted major excavations at the sites of Nassaw-Weyapee, Old Town, New Town, and Ayers Town along the Catawba River in South Carolina, and more limited investigations at several other nearby sites.
Since 1992, I also have undertaken numerous archaeological excavations on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. These investigations, usually conducted ahead of construction or renovation projects, have contributed significantly to our understanding of campus life during the university’s first 100 years and provided a convenient laboratory for training students in archaeological field methods.
Finally, I have pursued a career-long interest in archaeological visualization, ranging from traditional techniques of field photography and mapping to CAD, GIS, and the creation of 3D models using digital photogrammetry. I am particularly interested in the application of emerging technologies to archaeological problems, especially as they relate to the spatial analysis of archaeological data.
Current and Past Research
2015 • Davis, R. P. Stephen, Jr., Brett H. Riggs, and David J. Cranford. Archaeology at Ayers Town: An Early Federal Period Community in the Catawba Nation. Research Report 37, Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
2015 • Riggs, Brett H., R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr., and Mary Elizabeth Fitts. Archaeology at Ashe Ferry: Late Woodland and Middle Mississippian Period Occupations in the Lower Catawba River Valley, York County, South Carolina. Research Report 36, Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
2010 • Davis, R. P. Stephen, Jr., Patricia M. Samford, and Elizabeth A. Jones. The Eagle and the Poor House: Archaeological Investigations on the University of North Carolina Campus. In Beneath the Ivory Tower: The Archaeology of Academia, R. Skowronek and K. Lewis (eds.), pp. 141-163. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
2002 • Davis, R. P. Stephen, Jr. The Cultural Landscape of the North Carolina Piedmont at Contact. In The Transformation of the Southeastern Indians, 1540-1760, R. Ethridge and C. M. Hudson (eds.), pp. 135-154. University Press of Mississippi, Jackson.
2002 • Davis, R. P. Stephen, Jr. Settlement Structure and Occupational History at the Fredricks-Jenrette Site Complex, Orange County, North Carolina. In The Archaeology of Native North Carolina: Papers in Honor of H. Trawick Ward, J. M. Eastman and C. B. Rodning (eds.). Southeastern Archaeological Conference Special Publication 7.
2001 • Driscoll, Elizabeth Monahan, R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr., and H. Trawick Ward. Piedmont Siouans and Mortuary Archaeology on the Eno River, North Carolina. In Archaeological Studies of Gender in the Southeastern United States, J. M. Eastman and C. B. Rodning (eds.), pp. 127-151. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
2001 • Ward, H. Trawick, and R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr. Tribes and Traders on the North Carolina Piedmont, A.D. 1000-1710. In Societies in Eclipse: Archaeology of the Eastern Woodlands Indians, A.D. 1400-1700, D. S. Brose, C. W. Cowan, and R. C. Mainfort, Jr. (eds.), pp. 125-141. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.
1999 • Ward, H. Trawick, and R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr. Time Before History: The Archaeology of North Carolina. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.
1998 • Davis, R. P. Stephen, Jr., Patrick C. Livingood, H. Trawick Ward, and Vincas P. Steponaitis. Excavating Occaneechi Town: Archaeology of an Eighteenth-Century Indian Village in North Carolina. CD-ROM. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.
1993 • Ward, H. Trawick, and R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr. Indian Communities in the North Carolina Piedmont, A.D. 1000 1700. Monograph Series No. 2, Research Laboratories of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
1991 • Davis, R. P. Stephen, Jr. Aboriginal Settlement Patterns in the Little Tennessee River Valley. Report of Investigations No. 50, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Publications in Anthropology No. 54, Tennessee Valley Authority, Norris, Tennessee.
1991 • Davis, R. P. Stephen, Jr., and H. Trawick Ward. The Evolution of Siouan Communities in Piedmont North Carolina. Southeastern Archaeology 10(1):40-53.
1991 • Ward, H. Trawick, and R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr. The Impact of Old World Diseases on the Native Inhabitants of the North Carolina Piedmont. Archaeology of Eastern North America 19:171-181.
1990 • Schroedl, Gerald F., C. Clifford Boyd, Jr., and R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr. Explaining Mississippian Origins in East Tennessee. In The Mississippian Emergence: The Evolution of Ranked Agricultural Societies in the Eastern Woodlands, B. D. Smith (ed.), pp. 175-196. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.
1987 • Dickens, Roy S., Jr., H. Trawick Ward, and R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr. The Siouan Project: Seasons I and II, Monograph Series No. 1. Research Laboratories of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
1983 • Schroedl, Gerald F., C. Clifford Boyd, Jr., and R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr. Archaeological Contexts and Assemblages at Martin Farm. Report of Investigations No. 39, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
1985 • Davis, R. P. Stephen, Jr. Intersite Assemblage Variability in the Lower Little Tennessee River Valley: Exploring Extinct Settlement Systems Through Probabilistic Sampling. In Structure and Process in Southeastern Archaeology, R. S. Dickens, Jr. and H. T. Ward, pp. 154-179. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
1978 • Davis, R. P. Stephen, Jr. Excavations at the Wiser Stephens I Site. In Sixth Report of the Normandy Archaeological Project, Major C.R. McCollough and C. H. Faulkner (eds.), pp. 291-547. Report of Investigations No. 21, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.