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Katherine Grillo, Ph.D.

Office: Turlington B121
Phone: (352) 294-7585

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  • Ph.D. Washington University in St. Louis, 2012
  • M.A. Washington University in St. Louis, 2006
  • B.A. University of Virginia, 2002

Research Interests

African archaeology, pastoralism, ecologies of food production, ethnoarchaeology, ethnohistory, experimental archaeology, material culture studies, ceramic analysis, craft production, monumentality, mortuary archaeology, environmental archaeology, radiocarbon dating

Personal Statement

My research interests center on the materiality of cattle-based pastoralism in eastern Africa, and the ways that ceramic technologies, for example, have been a critical part of mobile pastoralist repertoires through time and space. My doctoral research was an ethnoarchaeological study of material culture in Samburu herding communities in northern Kenya, and I am now focusing attention on expanding our archaeological understanding of the Pastoral Neolithic period in eastern Africa. I currently co-direct two major field projects, one examining the social significance of monumental “pillar sites” built by the region’s earliest herders in the Turkana Basin, northwestern Kenya, and one examining the largest Pastoral Neolithic settlement site in eastern Africa farther south at Luxmanda, Tanzania. Upcoming plans include expanding the scope of these projects to include new excavations at the Jarigole Pillar Site, a megalithic pillar site on the eastern side of Lake Turkana, and continuing excavations and survey efforts at Luxmanda. I also maintain an ongoing commitment to ethnographic research in Samburu, and all projects are geared with an eye towards improving our understanding of pastoralist adaptations and resilience in Africa’s dryland environments.

Positions and Honors

Positions and Employment

  • 2018-present: General Editor, Journal of African Archaeology
  • 2018-present: University of Florida, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
  • 2013-2018: University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, Assistant Professor, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • 2012-2013: Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany, Washington University and the Volkswagen Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow

Selected Publications

Grillo, K.,+ J. Dunne,+ (+co-first authors), F. Marshall, M. Prendergast, E. Casanova, A. Gidna, A. Janzen, Karega-Munene, J. Keute, A. Mabulla, P. Robertshaw, T. Gillard, C. Walton-Doyle, H. Whelton, K. Ryan, and R. Evershed. 2020. Molecular and isotopic evidence for milk, meat, and plants in prehistoric eastern African herder food systems. PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sawchuk, E., S. Pfeiffer, C. Klehm, M. Cameron, A. Hill, A. Janzen, K. Grillo, and E. Hildebrand. 2019. The bioarchaeology of mid-Holocene pastoralist cemeteries west of Lake Turkana, Kenya. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 11(11): 6221–6241.

Grillo, K., and D. Contreras. 2019. Public archaeology’s mammoth in the room: engaging Wikipedia as a tool for teaching and outreach. Advances in Archaeological Practice.

Rouse, L.M.,  K. Grillo, R. Piermartiri, E. Rotondaro, H. Cogo-Moreira, G.M. Bargossi, and B. Cerasetti. 2019. Not Just “Nomadic Jars”: The ceramic assemblage from the later Bronze Age mobile pastoralist site of Ojakly, Murghab region, Turkmenistan. Archaeological Research in Asia. 18:100-199.

Langley, M., M. Prendergast, and K. Grillo. 2019. Organic technology in the Pastoral Neolithic: osseous and eggshell artefacts from Luxmanda, Tanzania. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

Prendergast, M.E., A. Janzen, M. Buckley, and K. Grillo. Sorting the sheep from the goats in the Pastoral Neolithic: morphological and biomolecular approaches at Luxmanda, Tanzania. 2019. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 

Hildebrand, E.A., K. Grillo, E. Sawchuk, S. Pfeiffer, L. Conyers, S.T. Goldstein, A.C. Hill, A. Janzen, C. Klehm, M. Helper, P. Kiura, E. Ndiema, C. Ngugi, J. Shea, H. Wang. 2018. A monumental cemetery built by eastern Africa’s earliest herders near Lake Turkana, Kenya. PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sawchuk, E., S. Goldstein, K. Grillo, and E. Hildebrand. 2018. Territoriality, cemeteries, and the spread of pastoralism from the Sahara through eastern Africa. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

Dunne, J.+, K. Grillo+ (+co-first authors), E. Casanova, H. Whelton, and R. Evershed. 2018. Pastoralist foodways recorded in organic residues from pottery vessels of modern communities in Samburu, Kenya. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.

Grillo, K.+, M. Prendergast,+ (+co-first authors) D. Contreras, T. Fitton, A. Gidna, S. Goldstein, M. Knisley, M. Langley, A. Mabulla. 2018.  Pastoral Neolithic settlement at Luxmanda, Tanzania. Journal of Field Archaeology 43(2):102-120.

Skoglund, P., J.C. Thompson, M.E. Prendergast, A. Mittnik, K. Sirak, M. Hajdinjak, T. Salie, N. Rohland, S. Mallick, A. Peltzer, A. Heinze, I. Olalde, M. Ferry, E. Harney, M. Michel, K. Stewardson, J.I. Cerezo-Román, C. Chiumia, A. Crowther, E. Gomani-Chindebvu, A.O. Gidna, K. Grillo, I.T. Helenius, G. Hellenthal, R. Helm, M. Horton, S. López, A.Z.P. Mabulla, J. Parkington, C. Shipton, M.G. Thomas, R. Tibesasa, M. Welling, V.M. Hayes, D.J. Kennett, R. Ramesar, M. Meyer, S. Pääbo, N. Patterson, A.G. Morris, N. Boivin, R. Pinhasi, J. Krause, D. Reich. 2017.  Reconstructing prehistoric African population structure. Cell 171(1):59-71. 

Langley, M., M. Prendergast, and K. Grillo. 2017.  Organic technology in the Pastoral Neolithic: osseous and eggshell artefacts from Luxmanda, Tanzania. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 

Beyin, A., M. Prendergast, K. Grillo, and H. Wong. 2017.  New radiocarbon dates for terminal Pleistocene and early Holocene settlements in West Turkana, northern Kenya. Quaternary Science Reviews 168:208-215. 

Wright, D., K. Grillo, and R. Soper. 2016.  Stone cairns and material culture of the middle to late Holocene, Lake Turkana. Journal of African Archaeology 14(2):209-222.

Ashley C. and K. Grillo. 2015.  Archaeological ceramics from eastern Africa: past approaches and future directions. 50th Anniversary special edition, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 50(4):460-480.

Grillo, K. 2014.  Pastoralism and pottery use: an ethnoarchaeological study in Samburu, Kenya. African Archaeological Review 31(2):105-130. 

Prendergast, M., K. Grillo, A. Mabulla, and H. Wong. 2014.  New dates for Kansyore and Pastoral Neolithic ceramics in the Eyasi Basin, Tanzania. Journal of African Archaeology, 12(1):89-98. 

Grillo, K. 2014.  Book Review, Pastoralism in Africa: Past, Present, and Future (M. Bollig, M. Schnegg, and H.-P. Wotzka, eds.), for Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa.  

Grillo, K. 2014.  El pastoreo en África oriental (Pastoralism in eastern Africa). in La Cuna de la Humanidad (The Cradle of Humankind), official publication of the Museo Arqueológico Regional (Regional Archaeological Museum) at Olduvai, Tanzania, pp. 221-229, 305-307.

Prendergast, M., A. Mabulla, K. Grillo, L. Broderick, A. Gidna, O. Seitsonen, and D. Gifford-Gonzalez. 2013.  Pastoral Neolithic sites on the southern Mbulu Plateau, Tanzania. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 48(4):498-520.

Grillo, K. and E. Hildebrand. 2013.  The context of early megalithic architecture in eastern Africa: the Turkana Basin c. 5000-4000 BP. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 48(2):193-217.

Hildebrand, E. and K. Grillo. 2012.  Early herders and monumental sites in eastern Africa: new radiocarbon dates. Antiquity 86(332):338-352.

Hildebrand, E., J. Shea, and K. Grillo. 2011.  Four Middle Holocene pillar sites in West Turkana, Kenya. Journal of Field Archaeology 36(3):181-200.

Marshall, F., K. Grillo, and L. Arco. 2011.  Prehistoric pastoralists and social responses to climatic risk in East Africa. In Sustainable Lifeways: Cultural Persistence in an Ever-changing Environment, edited by N. Miller, K. Moore, and K. Ryan, pp. 39-74. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Series. Penn Press, Philadelphia.

More Publications Available on Google Scholar

Media Coverage

Media coverage of our discoveries at the Lothagam North Pillar Site, northwestern Kenya

Media coverage of our ancient DNA study (Skoglund et al. 2017), which includes data from Luxmanda, Tanzania

Research Support

Ongoing Research Support

2018 – ongoing: Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
  • Rangelands and resilience: archaeology and paleoecology at an early pastoralist site in Tanzania.
  • Award: $19,940 to K. Grillo (official grant PI), with M. Prendergast and A. Mabulla (project co-PIs).
2018 – ongoing: National Geographic Society
  • Herders and homes on the range: disentangling human-environment interactions in Tanzanian prehistory.
  • Award: $30,130 to M. Prendergast (official grant PI), with K. Grillo and A. Mabulla (project co-PIs).

Completed Research Support (within the past three years)

Courses Taught

  • African Archaeology
  • Ethnoarchaeology (ANG6185/ANT4193)
  • General Anthropology
  • Lost Tribes and Sunken Continents: Pseudoarchaeology and Why It Matters