Elizabeth Currie
Research Associate

Profile

Biography

I obtained my BA in archaeology in 1975, and my PhD in 1989, both at University College London Institute of Archaeology.  My PhD was on work carried out in south coastal Ecuador on shell midden sites in El Oro province, entitled ‘Cultural relationships in southern Ecuador 300 BC - AD 300: excavations at the Guarumal and Punta Brava Sites’.  This research focused upon ceramic assemblages and their different inter-regional relationships and sequences, but also explored environmental changes wrought by local El Niño episodes on the prehistoric occupation of the region, and the exploitation of different shell fish species through time.

My association with the Department goes back to the 1990s, during which time I carried out much of my research work related to my specialist interests in the Americas, particularly Ecuador (the Lopez Viejo Project; The Impact of Europe on Ecuador in the 16th Century).

I have also worked as an archaeologist with English Heritage.

Publications

Selected publications

Wilson, C., I.A. Simpson and E.J. Currie. 2002. Soil Management in Pre-Hispanic Raised Field Systems: Micromoprhological Evidence from Hacienda Zuleta, Ecuador. Geoarchaeology 17 (3)

Currie, E.J. 2001. Manteño Ceremony and Symbolism. Mortuary Practices and Ritual Activities at López Viejo, Manabí, Ecuador. In Mortuary Practices and Ritual Associations. Shamanic Elements in Precolumbian Funerary Contexts in South America. Edited by John E. Staller and Elizabeth J. Currie. Archaeopress, BAR: Oxford.

Currie, E.J. 2001. A Late Period Caranqui Chiefdom in the Northern Highlands of Ecuador: Archaeological Investigations at Hacienda Zuleta. Internet Archaeology 10 http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue10/currie_index.html

Currie, E. J.  2000. Archaeological investigations at Hacienda Zuleta in the northern highlands of Ecuador. Antiquity 74:273-274.

Currie, E. J.  1995. Prehistory of the Southern Manabí Coast, Ecuador. López Viejo.  BAR (British Archaeological Reports) International Series 618. Tempus Reparatum, Oxford. 64 p

Currie, E. J.  1995. Archaeology, Ethnohistory and Exchange along the Coast of Ecuador. Antiquity 69: 511-526

Currie, E. J.  1992. A Late Formative period occupation in El Oro, Ecuador: a case for ecological catastrophe? Papers from the Institute of Archaeology Volume 3, March 1992. Pp: 30-43

Currie, E. J. 1992. Unpublished manuscript. New Evidence on the Late Formative Period in El Oro Province, Southwestern Ecuador. 61p.

Currie, E. J.  1989. Cultural Relationships in Southern Ecuador 300 BC - AD 300: Excavations at the Guarumal and Punta Brava Sites. PhD dissertation. University of London. 406 p.

 

Selection of Seminars and Papers

Nashville, 12 November 2016: “ The Shoreline: conceptual boundaries between land and sea in pre-Columbian Andean cosmologies”. paper presented at the American Society for Ethnohistory, 9-12 November, 2016 Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

 

Denver, 21 March 2002:“Before and After the Conquest: variations in land management practices and the significance of raised field agriculture at Hacienda Zuleta, Ecuador”. Paper presented at the 67th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Denver, Colorado, USA, 20 - 24 March, 2002 in ‘The Archaeology of Tropical and Coastal South America’ session.

London, 9 December 2000:“Mortuary Practices and Ritual Activities at López Viejo, Manabí, Ecuador.” Paper presented at the Bi-Annual Meeting of the South American Archaeology Seminar, Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London.

Chicago, 27 March, 1999:“The Shaft Grave Burials at López Viejo: animal symbolism and the cosmic void”.  Paper presented at the 64th Annual Meeting of The Society for American Archaeology, Chicago, Illinois, USA. 24 - 28 March, 1999.

London, 28 November, 1998: “Volcanoes and Wars of Conquest: Impacts to Human Settlement in the Pre-Columbian Ecuadorian Andes”. Paper presented at the Bi-Annual Meeting of the South American Archaeology Seminar, Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London.

Research

Overview

The focus of Elizabeth’s interests is the archaeology and ethnohistory of the Americas, including pre-Columbian, Spanish Conquest and early Colonial periods and she has carried out a number of projects dealing with the archaeology of Ecuador in particular.

She has also carried out historical research into the early colonial period of Latin America, working with original historical documents and chronicles.  Studies of these early texts led to an interest in the impact of the Spanish Conquest and European culture on prehispanic indigenous societies in the Andean region. 

Her interests include cognitive approaches to human behaviour and construction of identity as seen through material culture, and in expressions of indigenous cosmology, being and belief, especially with societies practising shamanistic religions.  The impact of imposed Christian religion upon indigenous pre Columbian cosmology, beliefs and rituals and how this is reflected in material culture is a particular interest.

 

Current Project

‘ MEDICINE. Indigenous concepts of health and healing in Andean populations. The relevance of traditional MEDICINE in a changing world’.

 ‘MEDICINE’ is a new three year project funded under the EC Horizon 2020 Marie-Sklodowska Curie Actions, to determine concepts of health and healing from a culturally specific indigenous context, using a framework of interdisciplinary methods which integrates archaeological-historical, ethnographic and modern health sciences approaches. The study will generate new theoretical and methodological approaches to model how peoples survive and adapt their traditional belief systems in a context of alien cultural impacts. New conceptual models of Andean understandings of health, illness and healing, and the ways these have adapted and changed through time, will be used to develop a ‘bridging tool’ transferable to contemporary global policy scenarios relevant to marginalised and migrant peoples and provide a means through which their traditional health beliefs and current needs may be more appropriately understood and met.  The study offers a novel perspective and methods in the development policies sensitive to indigenous and minority people’s health needs.

Elizabeth will spend the first two years of the project (2016-2018) on secondment to the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador as Research Adjunct, where she will be working with Dr Diego Quiroga and Dr Fernando Ortega, who both have expertise in Medical Anthropology, Traditional Medicine, Race and Ethnicity and Indigenous Public Health.  Professor John Schofield, Head of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York is the Project PI and Supervisor, and Professor Hugh MacPherson of the Department of Health Sciences is Project Advisor in York, where Elizabeth will spend the third and last year of the Project (2018-2019).

 

Other Projects

‘Hacienda Zuleta Heritage and Visitor Centre Project’

Building on a long personal association and earlier archaeological research carried out at Hacienda Zuleta, Elizabeth has worked with the management as Advisor and Coordinator in the development of a new Heritage and Visitor Centre, and Folk Museum complex. This will adopt an integrated strategic approach to the region’s complex archaeological, historical and present day indigenous occupations to present a multi-dimensional diachronic trajectory of the human life experience here from the earliest pre-Columbian times to the present day.

‘The López Viejo Project’ is a programme of research into the nature of pre-Columbian maritime societies located on the coast of south west Ecuador, and their role in socio-political and economic developments of contemporary societies across a wider region from Mesoamerica to Peru.  In particular it has investigated evidence for the long distance exchange systems in spondylus ssp, thought to be controlled by local (Manteño) polities between coastal cultures of Western Mexico and the prehistoric kingdoms of north coastal Peru (Sípan, Moche, Chimú). 

Projects

Hacienda Zuleta Heritage and Visitor Centre Project

Building on a long personal association and earlier archaeological research carried out at Hacienda Zuleta, I am currently working with the management as Advisor and Coordinator in the development of a new Heritage and Visitor Centre, and Folk Museum complex. This will adopt an integrated strategic approach to the region’s complex archaeological, historical and present day indigenous occupations to present a multi- dimensional diachronic trajectory of the human life experience here from the earliest pre-Columbian times to the present day.

The López Viejo Project

"The López Viejo Project" is a programme of research into the nature of pre-Columbian maritime societies located on the coast of south west Ecuador, and their role in socio-political and economic developments of contemporary societies across a wider region from Mesoamerica to Peru. In particular it has investigated evidence for the long distance exchange systems in spondylus ssp, thought to be controlled by local (Manteño) polities between coastal cultures of Western Mexico and the prehistoric kingdoms of north coastal Peru (Sípan, Moche, Chimú).

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Contact details

Dr Elizabeth Currie
Research Associate
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor
York
YO1 7EP