Michael Graves

Michael Graves, PhD

Professor Emeritus

Current Research
Selected Publications
Courses Taught


I received my B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Washington (Seattle), and my Ph.D. in 1981 from the University of Arizona (Tucson). My specialization is in archaeology, specifically archaeological method and theory and the prehistory of Polynesia, Micronesia, Insular Southeast Asia, and the American Southwest.

Throughout my career, my research has focused on 3 topics: the development and intensification of agriculture/subsistence; the evolution of social complexity and social organization, and stylistic analyses of architecture, rock art, and ceramics. I previously taught at the University of Guam (1981-86) and I have been with the University of Hawai'i at Manoa since 1986. I have previously edited the journals American Antiquity and Asian Perspectives: The Archaeological Journal for Asia and the Pacific.


My general interests are in evolutionary theory; archaeology; social complexity; style; spatial and geographic analyses; and dating methods (seriation, tree-ring dating, radiocarbon dating).

Current Research:

My current research is focused on the explanation of the evolution of social complexity in Hawai'i and elsewhere in Polynesia, the development of models linking geographical information systems to agricultural practices, and the application of stylistic analyses to explain the evolution of social units and patterns of diversification.

My field research in Kohala, Hawaii Island is a collaborative, interdisciplinary program with funding from the National Science Foundation (Biocomplexity and Human Dynamics Initiatives and a Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site Grant), National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

Selected Publications:


Skibo, James, Michael W. Graves, and Miriam T. Stark (editors)
2007 Archaeological Anthropology: Perspectives on Method and Theory University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ. In press, 300 pp.

Carson, Mike T, and Michael W. Graves (editors)
2005 Na Mea Kahiko o Kaua‘i: Archaeological Studies in Kaua‘i. Special Publication 2. Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, Honolulu, 275 pp.

Ladefoged, Thegn N., and Michael W. Graves (editors)
2002 Pacific Landscapes: Archaeological Approaches. Easter Island Foundation, Los Osos, California:274 pp.

Graves, Michael W., and Roger C. Green (editors)
1993 The Evolution and Organisation of Prehistoric Society in Polynesia, Monograph 19. Auckland: New Zealand Archaeological Association.

Book Chapters

Ladefoged, Thegn N., and Michael W. Graves
2007 Modeling Agricultural Development and Demography in Kohala, Hawai‘i. Long- term Demographic Evolution in the Pacific Islands, edited by Patrick V. Kirch and Jean- Louis Rallu. University of Hawai‘i Press, Honolulu. In press, 35 pp

Ladefoged, Thegn N., and Michael W. Graves
2006 The Formation of Hawaiian Community Boundaries. In Archaeology of Oceania: Australia and the Pacific Islands, edited by Ian Lilley, pp. 259-283. Blackwell, London.

Kirch, Patrick V., Oliver A. Chadwick, S. Tuljapurkar, Thegn Ladefoged, Michael W. Graves, S. Hotchkiss, and Peter Vitousek
2006 Human Ecodynamics in the Hawaiian Ecosystem, from 1200-200 yr B.P. in Modeling Long-Term Cultural Change, edited by Timothy Kohler, Santa Fe Institute Publication, Santa Fe. NM. In press, 40 pp.

Graves, Michael W., Julie S. Field, and Windy K. McElroy
2005 An Overview of Site 50-30-01-196, Nu‘alolo Kai, Kaua‘i: Features, Excavations, Stratigraphy, and Chronology of Historic and Prehistoric Occupation. In Na Mea Kahiko o Kaua‘i: Archaeological Studies in Kaua‘i, edited by Mike T. Carson and Michael W. Graves, pp. 149-187. Special Publication 2. Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, Honolulu.

Ladefoged, Thegn N., and Michael W. Graves
2005 Modeling the Human Ecodynamics of Kohala, Hawai‘i. In The Renaca Papers: VI International Conference on Easter Island/VI Congreso internacional sobre Rapa Nui y el Pacifico, edited by F. J. Morin and G. Lee. Easter Island Foundation, Los Osos, CA.

Graves, Michael W., and Windy K. McElroy
2005 Hawaiian Fishhook Classification, Identification, and Analysis, Nu‘alolo Kai (50-3-01-196), In Na Mea Kahiko o Kaua‘i: Archaeological Studies in Kaua‘i, edited by Mike T. Carson and Michael W. Graves, pp. 188-210. Special Publication 2. Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, Honolulu.

Graves, Michael W., Blaze V. O’Connor, and Thegn N. Ladefoged
2002 Tracking Changes in Community Scale Organization in Kohala and Kona, Hawai‘i, In Pacific Landscapes: Archaeological Approaches, edited by Thegn N. Ladefoged and Michael W. Graves, pp. 231-254. Easter Island Foundation, Los Osos, CA.

Graves, Michael W., and Thegn N. Ladefoged
1995 The Evolutionary Significance of Ceremonial Architecture in Polynesia. In Evolutionary Archaeology: Methodological Issues (ed.), Patrice A. Teltser. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Graves, Michael W.
1994 Kalinga Social and Material Cultural Boundaries: A Case of Spatial Convergence. In Kalinga Ethnoarchaeology: Expanding Archaeological Method and Theory, (eds.), William A. Longacre and James M. Skibo. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Ladefoged, Thegn N., Michael W. Graves, and James Coil
2005 Early Sweet Potato Production in Hawai‘i. Journal of the Polynesian Society 114(4):359-373.

Vitousek, Peter M., Thegn Ladefoged, Oliver A. Chadwick, Anthony C. Hartshorn, Michael W. Graves, Sara C. Hotchkiss, S. Tuljapurkar, and Patrick V. Kirch
2004 Soils, Agriculture, and Society in Precontact Hawai‘i. Science 304: 1665-1669.

Ladefoged, Thegn N., Michael W. Graves, and Mark McCoy
2003 Archaeological Evidence for Agricultural Development in Kohala, Island of Hawai‘i. Journal of Archaeological Science 30: 923-940.

Graves, Michael
2001 Analyzing and Interpreting Ceramic Production and Distribution in the American Southwest. Reviews in Anthropology 29:253-272.

Ladefoged, Thegn N., and Michael W. Graves
2000 Evolutionary Theory and the Historical Development of Dry Land Agriculture in North Kohala, Hawai'i. American Antiquity 65: 423-448.

Aswani, Shankar and Michael W. Graves
1998 The Tongan Maritime Expansion: A Case in the Evolutionary Ecology of Social Complexity. Asian Perspectives 37(2): 135-164.

Ladefoged, Thegn N., Michael W. Graves, and Richard Jennings
1996 Dryland Agricultural Expansion and Intensification in Kohala, Hawai'i Island (with Thegn N. Ladefoged and Richard P. Jennings). Antiquity 70:861-880

Graves, Michael W., and C. Kehaunani Cachola-Abad
1996 Seriation as a Method of Chronologically Ordering Architectural Design Traits: An Example from Oceania. Archaeology in Oceania 31:19-32.

Graves, Michael W., and David L. Addison
1995 The Polynesian Settlement of the Hawaiian Archipelago: Integrating Models and Methods in Archaeological Interpretation. World Archaeology 26:257-282.

Graves, Michael W., and Conrad Erkelens
1991 Who's in Control? The Role of Method and Theory in Hawaiian Archaeology). In Recent Advances in Hawaiian Archaeology. Asian Perspectives 30:1-18

Graves, Michael W., Terry L. Hunt, and Darlene Moore
1990 Ceramic Production in the Mariana Islands: Explaining Change and Diversity in Prehistoric Interaction and Exchange In Exchange, Interaction, and Social Complexity in Oceania. Asian Perspectives 29:211-234.

Courses Taught:

Anth 210 Introduction to Archaeology

In this course the student obtains a broad introduction to the various facets of archaeological inquiry. The fundamental assumptions of archaeological theory are presented for debate, and the methods which follow from theoretical propositions are examined. Interspersed with these topics we will consider the techniques by which archaeologists obtain information about the unobserved past in both the field and laboratory. Throughout the course illustrative materials will be employed to show how archaeologists operate in their dual role as social and natural scientist. The intent of this class is to provide a foundation for understanding how archaeology is actually accomplished from field work to laboratory analyses to the testing of hypotheses about the past. See Syllabus

Anth 380 Archaeology Lab Techniques

Anthropology 380 is a "hands on" survey course aimed at giving the beginning archaeology student a practical introduction to the principals and practice of archaeological laboratory work.Students will learn: (a) basic techniques to identify, record, and analyze a broad range of archaeological materials including artifacts, floral and faunal remains, and soils some of this will involve using a simple computer data base; (b) how to develop lab data into appropriate archaeological reports, including a look at techniques for archaeological photography, drafting and illustration; and (c) basic long term conservation/curation methods. A set of optimal texts will be available at the UH Bookstore. Emphasis will be on Hawaiian materials, but others will be drawn on as needed. A certain amount of outside reading will be necessary so that as much time as possible can be spent on actual lab practice. It is recommended that this course be taken prior to Anthropology 381, Archaeology Field Techniques.

Anth 381, Archaeological Field Techniques

This is an intensive archaeological field training program that Graves has taught since 1999 in the Kohala District of Hawai‘i Island. Field work emphasizes non-invasive mapping and recording techniques including the use of global positioning system units and the development of geographic information systems databases. Students have recorded dryland and wetland agricultural field systems, excavated residential sites, and mapped and recorded traditional Hawaiian religious or ritual features known as heiau.

Anth 603 Archaeology

This is the graduate core course in archaeology. The course provides a critical, synthetic review of method and theory as it is applied to explanation in archaeology. We examine explanation in light of archaeologists' goal to be scientific. The intellectual goal of the course is development of critical and analytic skills. In addition, we will cover the "theoretical" literature of archaeology. Our focus on explanation will lead us to major questions, such as the origins of agriculture and social complexity, that archaeologists and anthropologists have long attempted to answer.The course is organized as a seminar in a sequence that begins with philosophical discussions of science, theory, explanation, and the three paradigms of archaeology. We then proceed with student presentations and discussions of explanation, the paradigms of archaeology, and attempts to explain culture change. Course requirements include regular participation in discussions, a mid term, a final, a book review, and a paper.

Anthropology 645 Historic Preservation (cross-listed with American Studies, Historic Preservation)

Historic and cultural resources are now covered by a raft of federal and local historic preservation laws. The intent of these laws is to protect and to encourage the wise management and preservation of these significant resources. In the first part of the seminar, the various laws and associated regulations together with their combined impact on historic properties will be presented and discussed. In the second half of the course, we assess and critique the various components of historic preservation, including concepts and ethics as they apply to historic preservation. Students are expected to actively participate in each class meeting. There is a midterm exam following the first part of the course; students undertake a written research project pertaining to historic preservation during the latter half of the class. There is no assigned book; a set of all the relevant historic preservation laws will be copied for the course. See Syllabus

Anth 710, Developing Research Proposals

This seminar is focused exclusively on the design of research and the preparation of a research proposal. As such, the seminar is separated into two parts. First, there is a review of how to build a research design—its components and integration. This section of the seminar includes coverage of how research proposals are put together, and what kinds of criteria are used to evaluate them. The seminar also examines different kinds of research (basic, applied), the way in which research is conceptualized within each kind, and the creation of effective designs and proposals. Second, the class reviews examples of funded research proposals and examines them in terms of research design and writing the proposal. A written research proposal based on work that you expect to do is the course major assignment.

Anth 750,  Analysis of Architecture in Archaeology

In this seminar we first review how architectural features are conceptualized in archaeology and the role analyses of such features have played in the historical development of the discipline. From here, we will consider various stylistic and functional classifications of architecture in the archaeological record from different areas of the world. Interpretations of architectural variability and patterning will form the final section of the class. Each student in this class will be expected to develop a research paper on architecture, integrating method and theory with a particular set of architectural data. A number of data sets exist for Polynesia and Oceania and these will be made available to students for their papers. There is no text for this class; a set of readings will be assigned. Grades will be assigned based on the research paper and student participation in the class.

Anth 750 Professional Skills for Anthropologists

Although listed as a research seminar in archaeology, this course is open to and will address issues relevant to all graduate students in anthropology. Specifically, this course seeks to identify the different components of professional development and to provide guidelines and strategies for graduate students hoping to make the transition to full professional status. Such issues are not generally discussed in other courses and anthropology students often identify this area as one in which they felt most deficient when preparing to graduate and/or applying for a full time position. This is a timely topic given the keen competition for the limited number of academic jobs available and the possibility that during the transitional period of professional development students may be under employed or employed in an area outside of their specialization. Among the topics covered in this course will be the development of a professional file, work and employment opportunities, ethical considerations in anthropological research, writing successful proposals for funding agencies, participation in professional associations and meetings, the role of peer review in the discipline, professional writing, looking for full time professional employment, and the development of research programs in anthropology.

This course is designed to include both lecture and discussion of the various topics. There is no assigned text for this course. Instead, a series of readings, keyed to the topics, will be assigned for each week of the course. There will be a series of writing assignments throughout the semester and these will determine grades for the course. In the future, we hope to make this a regular course offering in the department (and possibly, the College).