Matthew C. Curtis, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Matt in "Bazen's" Tomb, Aksum, Ethiopia, July 2008
Photo © M.C.CurtisI am a broadly trained anthropological archaeologist with a specialization in the Holocene archaeology of eastern Africa. My particular research interests include: the origins and development of ancient complex societies and urbanism in the Horn of Africa, East Africa, and the southern Red Sea area; surface archaeology; landscape archaeology; ethnoarchaeology; origins of food production; culture contact and inter-regional interaction studies; household archaeology; rock art; African historical archaeology and anthropology; cultural resource management and heritage conservation in Africa, and California archaeology.
UCSB Campus from Davidson Library, January, 2008 Photos © M.C. Curtis
African Experience: Introduction to African Studies
Archaeological Field School
The Americas Before Columbus: An Archaeological Journey Across the Millennia
Biological Anthropology Lab
Clash of Cultures
Culture and Communication
Culture and Society
Development of World Civilization
Foragers to Farmers: A Survey of Global Archaeology from the
Stone Age to the World's First Towns
History of Archaeology
Introduction to Archaeology and Prehistory
Introduction to Biological Anthropology
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology for Non-Majors
Kingdoms and Empires of Africa's Past
Laboratory Methods in Archaeology
Law and Warfare in Non-Western Societies
Lost Cities and Ancient States: Archaeology of Complex Societies From a Global Perspective (4000 BC – 1500 AD)
Out of Africa: The Evolution of Homo sapiens and the Peopling of the
Old World during the Late Pleistocene
Physical Anthropology Laboratory
Peoples of the Pueblos: Archaeology and Ethnography of the American Southwest
Practicum in Archaeology
Prehistory of Eritrea and the Horn of Africa
The African Diaspora
Topics in African History: Prehistoric Africa- Technological and Cultural Traditions
Links to Matt's UCSB nfomedia course sites
Links to Matt's UCLA Extension nfomedia course sites
Ph.D. in anthropology, University of Florida
M.A. in anthropology, University of Florida
Certificate in African studies, University of Florida
B.A. in anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara (Highest Honors - Summa Cum Laude)
Current and Recent Research Projects
Gamo Ethnoarchaeological Project Research Team and Team Family Members in Chencha, Ethiopia, July 2011, June 2008
Since 2005 I have been engaged in ethnoarchaeological research in southern Ethiopia, studying the origins and development of caste groups and craft specialization within Gamo society as a senior member of the Gamo Ethnoarchaeological Project, a National Science Foundation- and National Endowment for the Humanities-funded project. Currently, I am a co-principal investigator (with Kathryn Arthur and John W. Arthur) of the project's current (2011-2013) National Science Foundation-funded archaeological research component.
Gamo house near Chileshe, Ethiopia
Photo © M. C. Curtis
I co-edited (with Peter R. Schmidt and Zelalem Teka) a book concerning the archaeology of Eritrea published in 2008 by the Red Sea Press. Also over the last several years I have continued investigating ancient complex societies in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, bringing together various archaeological and environmental data from the Horn of Africa and southern Red Sea region in the effort to explore issues concerning regional and inter-regional interaction during the Pre-Aksumite and early Aksumite culture periods (first millennium BCE and first millennium CE).
Past Research Projects
In 1994 I was awarded a Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship for Kiswahili language study and conducted research in the National Museums of Kenya, earning a Master of Arts in anthropology and certificate in African Studies from the University of Florida in 1995. During 1997 I co-directed (with Yosief Libsekal) an intensive archaeological survey of the Adi Qayeh Plateau adjacent to the ancient Aksumite urban center of Qohaito in the central highlands of Eritrea.
Ancient elite building at Matara, Eritrea, June 1997
Photo © M.C. Curtis
During 1999-2000 I served as a U. S. Fulbright Fellow in Eritrea, where I taught archaeology as a visiting lecturer at the University of Asmara, co-directed the University of Asmara's archaeology field school (with Peter R. Schmidt), and directed the Greater Asmara Regional Archaeological Survey Project (GARASP)--the first regional archaeological survey and excavation project to be conducted in Eritrea and one of only a few systematic regional-scale archaeological projects to have focused on Holocene archaeology and the development of complex society in the Horn of Africa. The GARASP research formed the basis of my Ph.D. dissertation and has provided important new insights into the development of ancient agropastoral food producing traditions and the origins of sedentary village communities and complex society in the northern Horn of Africa during the early first millennium BCE. In 2001 I returned to Eritrea to co-direct (with Peter R. Schmidt) the University of Asmara's 2001 archaeology field school. During 2002-2003 the GARASP survey area was expanded by the University of Asmara's regional survey and test excavation project (Regional Inventory of Heritage Resources in the Greater Asmara Area), producing one of the largest and most intensively surveyed archaeological landscapes in Africa (see Schmidt, Curtis, and Teka 2008).
Bulls' heads figurines, Asmara area, Eritrea
Ibex frieze in church exterior, Yeha, Ethiopia
Copyright © 2008-2011 by Matthew C. Curtis. All rights reserved.
NEW ARTICLE by Matt Curtis:
Relating the Ancient Ona Culture to the Wider Northern Horn: Discerning Patterns and Problems in the Archaeology of the First Millennium BC
African Archaeological Review 26: 327-350.
NEW BOOK by Amanuel Beyin:
Prehistoric Settlement on the Red Sea Coast of Eritrea: Archaeological Investigation of the Buri Peninsula and Gulf of Zula.
Edited by Peter R. Schmidt, Matthew C. Curtis, and Zelalem Teka
Ceramic market, Yeha, Ethiopia, July 2008
Photo © M.C. Curtis
Matt's Publications and Reports
Curtis, M. C. 2014. Review of David W. Phillipson's Foundations of an African Civilisation: Aksum & the Northern Horn 1000 BC – AD 1300. In Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 49(1):119-122.
Curtis, M. C. 2013. Archaeological evidence for the emergence of food production in the Horn of Africa. The Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology, edited by P. Mitchell and P. Lane. Pp. 571-584. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Curtis, M. C. 2010. Ona Gudo, Ona Hašel, Qarora, Sämbäl. Encyclopedia articles in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, Volume 4, pp. 27-28, 262, 506, edited by S. Uhlig. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Curtis, M. C. 2010. Review of Laurel Phillipson's Using Stone Tools: the Evidence from Aksum, Ethiopia. In African Archaeological Review 27(2):173-176.
Arthur, K. W., J. W. Arthur, M. C. Curtis, B. Lakew, J. Lesur-Gebremariam, and Y. Ethiopia 2010. Fire on the Mountain: Dignity and Prestige in the History and Archaeology of the Borada Highlands in Southern Ethiopia. The SAA Archaeological Record 10(1):17-21.
Curtis, M. C. 2009. Relating the Ancient Ona Culture to the Wider Northern Horn: Discerning Patterns and Problems in the Archaeology of the First Millennium BC. African Archaeological Review 26(4): 327-350.
Arthur, K. W., J. W. Arthur, M. C. Curtis, B. Lakew, J. Lesur-Gebremariam, and Y. Ethiopia. 2009. Historical Archaeology in the Highlands of Southern Ethiopia: Preliminary Findings. Nyame Akuma 72:3-11.
Curtis, M. C. 2009. Preliminary Archaeological Survey of Small Portion of the Kentucky Springs Canyon Area, Angeles National Forest. Archaeological Reconnaissance Report on file at the Angeles National Forest Heritage Resources Section, Arcadia, California.
Arthur, J. W., K. J. Weedman Arthur, and M. Curtis. 2008. Gamo Ethnoarchaeology Project Report of the 2008 Field Season and Summary of Gamo Historical Research 2005-2008. Report on file at the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Schmidt, P. R., M. C. Curtis, and Z. Teka (editors) 2008. The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press
Curtis, M. C. 2008. Review of Joseph W. Michels' Changing Settlement Patterns in the Aksum-Yeha Region, Ethiopia 700 BC-AD 850, in International Journal of African Historical Studies 41:123-126.
Curtis, M. C. 2008. New Perspectives for Examining Change and Complexity in the Northern Horn of Africa During the First Millennium BCE. In The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea, edited by P.R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis, and Z. Teka. Pp. 329-348. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, Inc.
Curtis, M. C. and P. R. Schmidt 2008. Landscape, People, and Places on the Ancient Asmara Plateau. In The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea, edited by P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis, and Z. Teka. Pp. 65-108. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, Inc.
Curtis, M. C. and D. Habtemichael 2008. Matara, Keskese, and the Classical Period Archaeology of the Akele Guzay Highlands: A Brief Overview. In The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea, edited by P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis, and Z. Teka. Pp. 311-327. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press.
Schmidt, P. R., and M. C. Curtis. 2008. The Development of Archaeology in Eritrea. In The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea, edited by P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis, and Z. Teka. Pp. 1-17. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, Inc.
Schmidt, P. R. and M. C. Curtis with a contribution from M. S. Ascunce, A. Kitchen, P. R. Schmidt, M. Myomato, and C. Mulligan. 2008. The Second Millennium AD: Settlement, Economy, and Ritual Life. In The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea, edited by P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis, and Z. Teka. Pp. 265-284. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, Inc.
Wenig, S. and M. C. Curtis 2008. Qohaito: An Ancient Highland Urban Center. In The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea, edited by P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis, and Z. Teka. Pp. 287-300. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, Inc.
Schmidt, P. R., M. C. Curtis, and Z. Teka 2008. The Ancient Ona Communities of the First Millennium BCE: Urban Precursors and Independent Development on the Asmara Plateau. In The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea, edited by P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis, and Z. Teka. Pp. 109-161. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press.
D’Andrea, A. C., P. R. Schmidt, and M. C. Curtis 2008. Paleoethnobotanical Analysis and Agricultural Economy in Early First Millennium BCE Sites around Asmara. In The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea, edited by P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis, and Z. Teka. Pp. 207-216. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, Inc.
Schmidt, P. R., D. Habtemichael, and M. C. Curtis 2008. Ancient Gold Mining North of Asmara: A Focus on Hara Hot. In The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea, edited by P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis, and Z. Teka. Pp. 179-187. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press.
Curtis, M. C. 2007. Hesmele, Konso-Gardula, Kuhi, Lagä Oda, Lalibäla, Malazo, Malka Qunture, May Ayni, May Husa. Encyclopedia articles in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, Volume 3, pp. 21-23, 427, 447, 473-474, 489-490, 694-695, 698-699, 881-882, 885-886, edited by S. Uhlig. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Curtis, M. C. 2006. Brief Background and Overview of Qohaito Archaeological Sites Area and Adjacent Adi Qayeh Area, Eritrea. Report prepared for Cultural Site Research and Management (CSRM), Baltimore, Maryland, USA, February 12, 2006.
Curtis, M. C. 2005. Archaeological Investigations in the Greater Asmara Area: A Regional Approach in the Central Highlands of Eritrea. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Florida.
Curtis, M. C. 2005. Däqämhare, Dungur, Edäga Hamus, Enda Kaleb, Enda Maryam Mägdälawit, Enda Mikael, Enda Səmcon, Fəyqa, Gash Group, Gobədra, Gona, Gulo Mäkäda, Hadar, Ham, and Hawəlti. Encyclopedia articles in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, Volume 2, pp. 93-94, pp. 206-207, 223-224, 287-288, 290, 290-291, 293, 524-525, 712, 820-821, 837-838, 911-912, 958, 980-981, 1051-1052, edited by S. Uhlig. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Curtis, M. C. 2004. Ancient Interaction across the southern Red Sea: new suggestions for cultural exchange and complex societies during the first millennium BC. In Trade and Travel in the Red Sea Region, edited by P. Lunde and A. Porter. Pp. 57-70. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Schmidt, P. R., C. Naeser, Z. Teka, D. Habtemichael, M. C. Curtis, Y. Mobae, A. G. Mehari, and M. Weldai 2004. The Antiquity of Settlement in the Southern Eritrean Highlands An Eritro-American-German Collaborative Project. A research design submitted to the University of Asmara.
Curtis, M. C. 2003. Abdur, Addi Qäyyəh, Agula, Aksumite Culture, and Bäsaka. Encyclopedia articles in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, Volume 1, pp. 39, 77-78, 153, 186-188, 493, edited by S. Uhlig. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Schmidt, P. R. and M. C. Curtis 2001 Urban Precursors in the Horn: Early 1st Millennium BC Communities in Eritrea. Antiquity 75(290): 849-859.
Schmidt, P. R. and M. C. Curtis 2001. Saving Asmara’s Ancient Heritage: Executive Summary. Report and proposal on file in United States Embassy, Asmara and the National Museum of Eritrea, Asmara, Eritrea.
Walz, J. R. and M. C. Curtis 2001. Engaging Archaeology Overseas as Students. The SAA Archaeological Record 1(5):10-12
Walz, J. R. and M. C. Curtis 2001. Promoting Archaeologies Abroad, Anthropology News 42(5):41.
Curtis, M. C. and Y. Libsekal 1999. Archaeological Survey in the Adi Qeyeh Area, Eritrea, Nyame Akuma 51:25-35.
Curtis, M. C. 1998. 1997 Adi Qeyeh Archaeological Survey Project Report. Report on File in the National Museum of Eritrea.
Curtis, M. C. 1997. Subsurface and Electromagnetic Survey of Ocean Avenue Empty Lot: a Component of the 1997 Nombre de Dios (8-SJ-34) Archaeological Investigations. Report on file in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, Florida.
Curtis, M. C. 1995. Paradigms and Pottery: Triangular Incised Ware and the Archaeology of the East African Littoral. Unpublished Master of Arts thesis paper. On file in the Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
Giant Fallen Stela at Aksum
Photo © M. C. Curtis