Karen Harry

Professor of Anthropology
Expertise: Archaeology, Prehistory of Arizon and Southern Nevada, Prehistoric Technology, Native Americans


Karen Harry is an archaeologist who studies the prehistoric Native Americans that lived in Southern Nevada and along the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Additionally, she conducts experiments to replicate and understand prehistoric technologies, and regularly works with specialists in fields as diverse as chemistry, physics, materials science, and geology to understand the artifacts that she recovers.

Harry’s publications have focused on topics as diverse as understanding how Alaskan potters managed to construct vessels in the challenging Arctic environment; why prehistoric people sometimes elected to either emphasize or de-emphasize certain aspects of their heritage or identities; and how and why small-scale craft specializations developed in prehistory.  Her published books include Economic Organization and Settlement Hierarchies: Ceramic Production and Exchange among the Hohokam (2003), Cultural Resources Archaeology: An Introduction (co-author; 2010), Life Beyond the Boundaries: Constructing Identity in Edge Regions of the North American Southwest (co-editor; in press), and Interaction and Connectivity in the Greater Southwest (co-editor; in press).  Additionally, she regularly publishes in top tier journals including American Antiquity, American Anthropologist, Journal of Archaeological Science, and Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. Since joining the UNLV faculty in 2001, Harry has obtained more than $1.6 million dollars in external funding.



  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Arizona
  • B.A., Anthropology, Texas A&M University

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Karen Harry In The News

Desert Research Institute
DRI archaeologist Greg Haynes, Ph.D., recently completed a synthetic report on the prehistoric ceramic artifacts of the Colorado and Mojave deserts for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) California Desert District (CDD). The CDD manages the 11 million-acre California Desert Conservation Area, which holds cultural artifacts dating back thousands of years. Following a century of research on the prehistoric people and cultures of the Colorado and Mojave deserts of California, this is the first large-scale synthesis focused on ceramics and what they can tell us about the past.
St George News
Anyone who knows U.S. history well knows that media and advertisements in the 1920s tended to sensationalize reality.