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 Alice Williams

Alice Williams

PhD Student

 Peter Lanyon 071


Peter Lanyon Building, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Treliever Road, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK

I am interested in human culture and why we live in the vastly complex societies that we do today. My background is in archaeology and has included studying the archaeology of China, India, Southeast Asia, North and South America and Mesoamerica, as well as excavation at sites in Europe, Peru and Kazakhstan. I have also worked as an archaeobotanist (studying ancient plant remains) at sites in Turkey and Kurdistan. More recently, I have worked as a research assistant on SESHAT: The Global History Databank ( coding social complexity and warfare variables for polities from the Konya Plain (Turkey) and Kachi Plain (Pakistan). My current interest is in trying to understand archaeological patterns of state formation using evolutionary theory.

Broad research specialisms:

  • Cultural evolution
  • Archaeology


(2013) MSt Archaeology, University of Oxford
(2012) BA (Hons) Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge


Research projects

Project Title: Modelling the evolution of sociopolitical complexity.

Supervisors: Dr Thomas Currie, Dr Andrew Young

Funding Body: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) GW4+DTP (2014-2017)

Project Description:
For my PhD I will be investigating the evolution of social and political complexity in human societies. This will involve testing existing theories for the development of hierarchical and state society by constructing agent-based models within particular geographical settings and comparing these models with evidence from the archaeological record. The models will be tested at the global level and also at a regional level with a focus on the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico.

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