Margaret Beck, Ph.D.

Director of Graduate Studies

View Current CV

As an archaeologist, I study how people make what they need from locally available materials. Mostly this involves potters who made ceramic vessels for their households, although recently I have expanded into domestic hearths and fuel (e.g., Beck, Hill, and Khandelwal 2022) and pigment (e.g., Beck, MacDonald, Ferguson, and Adair 2022). I have also studied where household trash goes in both ancient and contemporary communities. My archaeological work is in Native North America (Great Plains and Southwest), with ethnoarchaeological work in India, the United States, and the Philippines.

Red Pigments of the Midcontinent poster (2022) by Margaret Beck

My current research is focused on red pigments (see right), paints, and ceramic slips in the U.S. midcontinent, comparing archaeological materials in the Plains and Midwest to collected geological samples. I am also expanding my work with Indigenous Great Plains ceramics in the 17th century and later. I welcome applications from graduate students with overlapping research interests.

As of September 2018, Valentine Roux (French National Centre for Scientific Research [CNRS]) and I serve as the editors of the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.

Courses Taught

  • ANTH:1201 - World Archaeology
  • ANTH:2165 - Native Peoples of North America
  • ANTH:2205 - Archaeological Methods    
  • ANTH:2261 - Human Impacts on the Environment
  • ANTH:3255 - Introduction to Archaeological Ceramics
  • ANTH:3257 - North American Archaeology
  • ANTH:5201 - Seminar: Archaeological Theory and Method

Research Interests

  • Household archaeology
  • Ethnoarchaeology
  • Landscapes, place, and raw material use
  • Compositional analysis
  • Ceramic technology
  • Pigments
Research areas
  • Archaeology
Mushroom Rocks
Ph.D., University of Arizona, 2003
Contact Information

239 Macbride Hall (MH)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States


15 Macbride Hall (MH)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States