About my research
My research has focused on A.D. 11th-13th century "great house" sites in northern New Mexico and southwest Colorado that were associated with Chaco Canyon's monumental architecture and its broad regional influence. I was most recently a postdoctoral scholar with the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center Research Institute, where I worked on ceramic analysis research related to the Northern Chacoan Outliers Project.
My dissertation project was at the previously unexcavated Aztec North great house at Aztec Ruins National Monument, where I conducted limited archaeological testing in 2016, with a crew from Binghamton University. More recently, my Crow Canyon project analyzed a legacy collection of pottery and other artifacts from the Wallace great house outside Cortez, Colorado. I am primarily specialized as a ceramic analyst, but my work on these rich assemblages has also led me into research on paleoethnobotany, adobe architecture, ornaments, color, and political structure. My work on the Chacoan world has drawn on materiality theory, landscape archaeology, borderlands theory, and sociopolitical theory.
Prior to becoming an archaeologist, I was a practicing attorney. Publications during that time included a still widely-cited law review article on the restitution of art looted by the Nazis during WWII. I continue to draw on my legal background, researching the legal and ethical issues surrounding NAGPRA, cultural heritage, decolonization of museums, and the repatriation of material culture and art. I recently completed two terms serving on the SAA Committee on Repatriation, which included extensive work on and contributions to the SAA's 2021 Statement Concerning the Treatment of Human Remains. My research has included work on pseudoarchaeology and an anthropologically informed study of leave no trace ethics in the pandemic era.
Peer Reviewed Publications:
Turner, Michelle I. and Derek D. Turner 2023 Leaving Traces: Fairy Houses, Kindness Stones, and Constructed Heritage, American Anthropologist 126:1.
Turner, Michelle I., Karen R. Adams, Jean N. Berkebile, and Abigail R. Dockter 2021 Ancient Grains: New Evidence for Ancestral Puebloan Use of Domesticated Amaranth.
American Antiquity 86:4.
Turner, Derek D. and Michelle I. Turner 2021 “I’m Not Saying It Was Aliens”: An Archaeological and Philosophical Analysis of a Conspiracy Theory, in Explorations in Archaeology and Philosophy, edited by Anton Killin and Sean Allen-Hermanson. Synthese Library.
Published Book Reviews:
Book review: Color in the Ancestral Pueblo Southwest in Kiva, 2021
Book review: The House of the Cylinder Jars in Antiquity, 2020
Law Review Publication:
The Innocent Buyer of Art Looted During World War II in Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law
Dissertation and Thesis:
PhD dissertation: Becoming Chacoan: The Archaeology of the Aztec North Great House
MA thesis: Ceramics of Aztec North and the Terrace Community, Aztec Ruins National Monument