College of Liberal and Fine Arts

Marcus Hamilton, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Anthropology

Research area: Archaeology / Biological Anthropology


Phone: 210-458-4075

Research in Progress

In some ways the human species is an entirely predictable mammal, and in others, clearly unique. On the one hand much of our basic biology is unsurprising for a primate of our body size, but most of us now live in cities, and lead lifestyles that are unique in many ways from any other species in Earth history. Moreover, there are many ways of being a viable human; from foraging and farming, to working in factories or trading stocks on Wall Street. How did this diversity evolve? What were the energetic and computational pathways that led to our unique ecological and evolutionary trajectory? If we understood these pathways, what might they predict about our future?

My research focuses on quantitative, interdisciplinary approaches to the evolution of human ecology and social organization. I am particularly interested in the ecology and archaeology of hunter-gatherer societies and the evolution of human biological and cultural diversity. At all scales, from egalitarian hunter-gatherers to industrialized nation states, humans form complex, modular, hierarchical social networks that facilitate flows of energy and information among individuals and groups. Moreover, these networks mediate all interactions with our environment. The goal of my research is to develop quantitative theory that provides a mechanistic understanding of the evolution of the complex human ecological niche over time and space.

In my complex systems research, I use theory and techniques from theoretical ecology, statistical physics, and evolutionary anthropology, in combination with interdisciplinary data sets. My archaeological research focuses on hunter-gatherer archaeology and the Paleoindian period of North America.

For further information see my website:


Ph.D., University of New Mexico, 2008


My teaching covers a broad range of approaches in anthropology, especially interdisciplinary approaches to anthropological archaeology and evolutionary anthropology.

Prospective students: I am currently interested in taking MA and PhD students focused on one or more of three areas: 1) Human evolutionary ecology, biogeography, and macroecology; 2) Hunter-gatherer archaeology, Paleoindians, and the colonization of the Americas; and 3) Data analysis, modeling, and complex systems in anthropology.

Current Ph.D. Students: Kristin Corl, Shannon Lawn
Current MA Students: Matthew DeGraffenreid, Jesus Figueroa Alcantar

Representative Publications

Buchanan, B. and M.J. Hamilton (2020). Scaling laws of Paleoindian projectile point design. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

Hamilton, M.J., R.S. Walker, B. Buchanan, and D.S. Sandeford (2020). Scaling human sociopolitical complexity. PLOS ONE 15(7): e0234615.

Hamilton, M.J., B. Buchanan, and R.S. Walker (2019). Spatiotemporal diversification of projectile point types in western North America over 13,000 years. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 24:486-495.

Walker, R.S., and M.J. Hamilton (2019). Machine learning with remote sensing data to locate uncontacted indigenous villages in Amazonia. PeerJ Computer Science 5: e170

Hamilton, M.J., B. Buchanan, and R.S. Walker (2018). Scaling the size, structure, and dynamics of residentially mobile hunter-gatherer camps. American Antiquity 83(4):701-720.​

Hamilton, M.J., and R.S. Walker (2018). A stochastic density-dependent model of the long-term dynamics of hunter-gatherer populations. Evolutionary Ecology Research 19(1): 85-102.


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Department of Anthropology

University of Texas at San Antonio

College of Liberal and Fine Arts

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San Antonio, TX 78249-1644