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Robert Bettinger

Robert Bettinger

Distinguished Professor Emeritus, PhD, University of California, Riverside, 1975

310 Young Hall Department of Anthropology
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue

Davis , CA 95616

Office Hours for Spring 2014 :

  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:30-2:30pm


  1. I received my B.A. (1970) and Ph.D. (1975) degrees from the University of California. I conducted most of my early fieldwork in California and the western Great Basin. I continue to work there but have since 1989 broadened my interests to include the archaeology of China, Siberia, and Argentina. I have worked almost continuously in northern China (Gansu, Ningxia, and Inner Mongolia) since 1989, collaborating with a team of US and PRC scholars interested in understanding the Pleistocene-Holocene transition and the origins of agriculture in north China.


Research Interests
Nearly all of my work centers on hunter-gatherers. My archaeological fieldwork has centered on the study of intensive hunter-gatherer adaptations, their expression in marginal environments (alpine and desert), and their connection with early agriculture. My theoretical contributions to cultural ecology, quantitative methodology, and evolutionary theory are directed mainly to general models of hunter-gatherer behavior that can be applied in a wide range of archaeological and ethnographic contexts.

Selected Recent Publications

2015 Bettinger, R. L. Orderly Anarchy: Sociopolitical Evolution in Aboriginal California. University of California Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780520283336 (book)

2015 Bettinger, Robert L., Raven Garvey, Shannon Tushingham. Hunter-Gatherers: Archaeological and Evolutionary Theory. Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology. Springer, US. ISSN: 1568-2722. ISBN: 978-1-4899-7580-5 (book)

2008 Bettinger, R. L. Cultural Transmission and Archaeology. In Cultural Transmission and Archaeology: Issues and Case Studies, edited by M. J. O’Brien, pp. 1-9. SAA Press, Washington, D.C.

2009 Bettinger, R. L. Hunter-Gatherer Foraging: Five Simple Models. Eliot Werner Publications, Clinton Corners, NY. ISBN:  9780979773136. (book)

2009 Barton, L., S. D. Newsome, F. H. Chen, H. Wang, T. P. Guilderson and R. L. Bettinger. Agricultural origins and the isotopic identity of domestication in northern China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(14):5523-5528.

2010 Bettinger, Robert L., Loukas Barton, and Christopher Morgan. The Origins of Food Production in North China: A Different Kind of Agricultural Revolution. Evolutionary Anthropology 19:9-21.

2010 Bettinger, Robert L., Loukas Barton, Christopher Morgan, Fahu Chen, Hui Wang, Thomas P. Guilderson, Duxue Ji, Dongju Zhang. The Transition to Agriculture at Dadiwan, People’s Republic of China. Current Anthropology 51 (5): 703-714.

2012 Gepts, Paul, Thomas R. Famula, Robert L. Bettinger, Stephen B. Brush, Ardeshir B. Damania, Patrick E. McGuire, and Calvin O. Qualset (eds.) 2011. Biodiversity in Agriculture: Domestication, Evolution, and Sustainability. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. (edited book)

2013 Yi, Mingjie, L. Barton, C. Morgan, D. Liu, F. Chen, Y. Zhang, S. Pei, Y. Guan, H. Wang, X. Gao, R. L. Bettinger. Microblade Technology and the Rise of Serial Specialists in North-Central China. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32: 212-223.

2013 Effects of the Bow on Social Organization in Western North America. Evolutionary Anthropology 22: 118-123.

Further Interests

The US-CHINA Working Group

Seshat: Global History Databank
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Dept. of Anthropology

328 Young Hall
One Shields Ave.
University of California
Davis, Ca 95616-8522

Ph.  530-752-0745
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