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Steven Simms

Steven Simms

Anthropology - Archaeology


Contact Information

Phone: (435)797-1277

Educational Background:

1984, Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Utah

1978, University of Pittsburgh

1976, M.A. in Anthropology, University of Nevada, Reno

1973, B.A. in Anthropology, cum laude, University of Utah


RESEARCH INTERESTS: North American archaeology, archaeological method and theory, evolutionary ecology, ethnoarchaeology; Great Basin, Near East COURSES TAUGHT: ANTH 1030 World Archaeology, ANTH 3300 Archaeology in North America, ANTH 4980 History and Theories of Anthropology, ANTH 5340/6340 Archaeology of the Desert West, ANTH 6410 Writing for Archaeologists


Dr. Simms received his Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of Utah and began working at Utah State University in 1988. His first archaeology experience, in 1972-73, was under the tutelage of the legendary "Dark Lord,” Jesse D. Jennings at the University of Utah. Since then he has had the chance to learn from other great field archaeologists by doing archaeology in the western and southeastern United States. Dr. Simms has also studied at the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Pittsburgh. Each of these schools had theoretically sophisticated scholars who showed him that questions are more powerful than the answers.

Dr. Simms' general interests are the prehistory of the American Desert West, archaeological method and theory, paleoecology, ethnoarchaeology, and evolutionary/behavioral ecology. He also enjoys the history and theory of anthropology. Between 1986 and 1997, Dr. Simms studied the ethnoarchaeology of Bedouin in Jordan. In the 2000s, Dr. Simms turned his attention to science writing and produced two books. One, Ancient Peoples of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau (2008), is a general synthesis of western prehistory. The other,Traces of Fremont: Society and Rock Art in Ancient Utah (2010) employs the stunning photography of rock art and artifacts by Francois Gohier as a vehicle to propose new thinking on the nature of the Fremont culture.

Recent research includes the rediscovery of a Fremont irrigation system shown to Noel Morss near Capitol Reef National Park in 1928. Successful rediscovery, with survey, excavation, and remote sensing from 2010-2014 now documents a 4.5 mile long ditch. Analyses include chronology employing optically stimulated luminescence dating, agricultural economics, and experimental archaeology. Simms also worked on the Ute Trails Project in western Colorado in 2014 with colleagues at Dominguez Archaeological Research Group, Grand Junction. He collaborates with USU Geologist Joel Pederson on OSL dating of agricultural terraces near Moab, Utah and on dating rock art such as the Great Gallery in Canyonlands National Park. He continues long term collaboration with Andrew Ugan (Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Davis, California) on topics in human behavioral ecology.