Research Expertise and Interest

archaeology, hunter-gatherers, prehistory, geoarchaeology, landscape use, stone tools technology, emergence of social complexity, ancient technology

Research Description

Lisa Maher is a prehistoric archaeologist in the Department of Anthropology who has been working in the eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia for over twenty years. She is involved in research all over the globe and directs several excavation projects in Jordan, most recently at a 20,000-year old hunter-gatherer aggregation site that is the largest Palaeolithic site in region and with the country's earliest hut structures and human burials. She has also recently started a project in Cyprus exploring the island’s earliest sea-faring hunter-gatherer groups. Specializing in geoarchaeology, ancient technologies, and cultural heritage conservation, she is interested in the intersections between past landscapes and people, from our earliest human ancestors to the present.


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Stock, J.T., Pomeroy, E., Ruff C.F., Brown, M., Gasperetti, M., Li, F.-J., Maher, L., Malone, C., Mushrif, V., Parkinson, E., Rivera, M., Siew, Y.Y., Stefanovic, S., Stoddart, S., Zarina, G., Wells, J.C.K. (2023) Testing the lactase growth acceleration hypothesis: Terminal Pleistocene and Holocene declines in human body size and subsequent growth acceleration as a consequence of dairying. PNAS 120(4): e2209482119.

Maher, L.A. and D.A. Macdonald (In press) Burning Down the House: Epipalaeolithic Mortuary Behaviors with Links to Architecture in Prehistoric Jordan. Neo-Lithics.

Macdonald, D.A. and Maher, L.A. (2022) Leaving Home: The abandonment of Kharaneh IV. Special issue ‘Risky Business: Comparative Approaches to Risk and Resilience in Arid Landscapes. The Holocene.

Kadowaki, S., Tamura, T., Kida, R., Omori, T., Maher, L.A., Portillo, M., Hirose, M., Suga, E., Massadeh, S. and D.O. Henry (2022) Lithic Technology and Chronology of Initial Upper Paleolithic Assemblages at Tor Fawaz, Southern Jordan. Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology, 5(1), 1-59.

Maher, L. (2021) Landscapes of the past: Creation of persistent places in hunter-gatherer landscapes of Southwest Asia and Japan. Journal of Japanese Archaeology 8(2): 247-283.

Maher, L., Macdonald, D. and J. Stock (2021) Life, Death, and the Destruction of Architecture: Hunter-Gatherer Mortuary Behaviors in Prehistoric Jordan. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 61:101262.

Richter, T., Darabi, H., Alibaigi, S. Arranz-Otsegui, A., Bangsgaard, P., Khosravi, S., Maher, L., Mortensen, P., Pedersen, P., and L. Yeomans (2021) The formation of Early Neolithic Communities in the Central Zagros: an 11,500 year old communal structure at Asiab. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 40(1): 2-22.

Ames, C. Gliganic, L., Cordova, C, Boyd, K., Jones, B., Maher, L. and B.R. Collins (2020) Chronostratigraphy, site formation, and palaeoenvironmental context of Late Pleistocene and Holocene occupations at Grassridge rock shelter (Eastern Cape, South Africa). Open Quaternary 6(5):1-19.

Maher, L. (2019) Persistent Place-Making in Prehistory: The Creation, Maintenance and Transformation of an Epipalaeolithic Landscape. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 26: 998-1083.

Maher, L.A. and M. Conkey (2019) Homes for Hunters? Exploring Hut Structures and the Concept of Home at Hunter-Gatherer Sites in Upper Palaeolithic Europe and the Epipalaeolithic of Southwest Asia. Current Anthropology 60(1): 91-137.

Spyrou, A., Maher, L.A., Martin, L., Macdonald, D.A., and A. Garrard (2019) Meat Outside the Freezer: Drying, Smoking, Salting and Sealing Meat in Fat at an Epipalaeolithic Megasite in Eastern Jordan. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 54:84-101.

Kadowaki, S., Tamura, T., Sano, K., Kurozumi, T., Maher, L., Wakano, J. Y., Omori, T., Kida, R., Hirose, M., Massadeh, S. and D. Henry (2019) Lithic technology, OSL dates, and marine shells from Wadi Aghar, southern Jordan, and Initial Upper Paleolithic behaviors in the southern inland Levant. Journal of Human Evolution 135: 102646.

Jones, M. D., Fleitmann, D., Abu Jaber, N., Cuthbert, M., Dean, J., Djamali, M., Eastwood, W., Enzel, Y., Haywood, A., Kwiecien, O., Larsen, J., Maher, L., Metcalfe, S.E., Morin, E., Parker, A., Petrie, C., Richter, T., Roberts, N., Roe, J., Rohling, E., Tindall, J.C., Unal, E., and L. Weeks (2019) 20,000 years of climate impacts and societal vulnerability and adaptation in southwest Asia. Invited review paper for WIREs Water 6:e1330.

Macdonald, D., Allentuck, A. and L. Maher (2018) Technological Change and Economy in the Epipalaeolithic: Assessing the Shift from Early to Middle Epipalaeolithic at Kharaneh IV through Lithic and Faunal Evidence. Journal of Field Archaeology 43(6):437-456.

Ramsey, M., L. Maher, D. Macdonald, D. Nadel and A. Rosen (2018) Sheltered by Reeds and Settled on Sedges: Construction and Use of a Twenty Thousand-Year-Old Hut According to Phytolith Analysis from Kharaneh IV, Jordan. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 50: 85-97.

Maher, L. (2016) Comment on ‘A Natufian Ritual Event’ by L. Grosman and N. Munro. Current Anthropology 57(3):

Ramsey, M.N., L.A. Maher, D. Macdonald and A. Rosen (2016) Risk, Reliability and Resilience: Phytolith Evidence for Alternative ‘Neolilithization’ Pathways at Kharaneh IV in the Azraq Basin, Jordan. PLoS-ONE 11(10): e0164081. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0164081.

Maher, L., T. Richter, D. Macdonald, M. Jones, J. Stock, L. Martin and A. Allentuck (2016) Occupying Wide Open Spaces? Late Pleistocene Hunter-Gatherer Activities in the Eastern Levant. Late Quaternary Landscape Change in the Levant: Social, Technological and Economic Investigations in Open Spaces. Special Issue for Quaternary International 396: 79-94.

Jones, M., L. Maher, D. Macdonald, C. Ryan, C. Rambeau and T. Richter (2016) The Environmental Setting of Epipalaeolithic Kharaneh IV. Late Quaternary Landscape Change in the Levant: Social, Technological and Economic Investigations in Open Spaces. Special Issue for Quaternary International 396: 95-104.

Maher, Lisa A. and Danielle A. Macdonald (2014). Kharaneh IV Excavation Project. In Archaeology in Jordan 2012 and 2013 Seasons, G. Corbett, D. Keller, B. Porter, and C. Tuttle (eds.). American Journal of Archaeology, 118(4), 634-636.

Maher, L. (2014) Comment on ‘The sounds of pounding: Boulder mortars and their significance to Natufian burial customs’ by D. Rosenberg and D. Nadel. Current Anthropology 55(6): 803-804.

Maher, L., D. Macdonald, A. Alaica and E.B. Banning (2014). Two Early Epipalaeolithic Sites in Wadi Taiyiba, Northern Jordan. Paléorient 40(1): 73-97.

Kadowaki, S., L. Maher, M. Portillo, R.M. Albert, C. Akashi, F. Guliyev, Y. Nishiaki (2014) Geoarchaeological and palaeobotanical evidence for prehistoric cereal storage at the Neolithic settlement of Göytepe (mid 8th millennium BP) in the southern Caucasus. Journal of Archaeological Science 53: 408-425.

Richter, T. and L. Maher (2013) Terminology, Process and Change: Reflections on the Epipalaeolithic of Southwest Asia. Levant 45(2): 121-132.

Richter, T., L. Maher, K. Edinborough, A. Garrard, M. Jones, and J.T. Stock (2013) Epipalaeolithic settlement dynamics in southwest Asia: new radiocarbon evidence from the Azraq Basin. Journal of Quaternary Science 28(5): 467-479, doi: 10.1002/jqs2629.

Maher, L., T. Richter, D. Macdonald, M. Jones, L. Martin and J. T. Stock (2012) Twenty Thousand-Year-Old Huts at a Hunter-Gatherer Settlement in Eastern Jordan. PLoS-ONE 7(2): e31447. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031447.

Maher, L., T. Richter, and J. Stock (2012) The Pre-Natufian Epipalaeolithic: Long-Term Behavioral Trends in the Levant. Evolutionary Anthropology 21: 69-81.

Diaz, A., L. Maher, T. O’Connell, and J. Stock (2012) Subsistence and Mobility Strategies in the Epipalaeolithic of Jordan: A Stable Isotope Study at Uyun al-Hammam. Journal of Archaeological Science 39: 1984-1992.

Maher, L. and D. Macdonald (2012) Exploring Typo-technological Diversity in Chipped Stone from Epipalaeolithic Kharaneh IV, Eastern Jordan. CBRL Bulletin 7(1): 42-59. doi: 10.1179/1752726012Z.0000000006.

Maher, L., T. Richter, M. Jones and J.T. Stock (2011) The Epipalaeolithic Foragers in Azraq Project: Prehistoric Landscape Change in the Azraq Basin, Eastern Jordan. CBRL Bulletin 6: 21-27.

Maher, L. (2011) Reconstructing Palaeolandscapes and Prehistoric Occupation in Wadi Ziqlab, Northern Jordan. Geoarchaeology 26(5): 649-692.

Maher, L., J. Stock, S. Finney, J. Haywood, P. Miracle and E.B. Banning (2011) A Unique Human-Fox Burial from a Pre-Natufian Cemetery in the Levant (Jordan). PLoS-ONE 6(1): e15815. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015815.

Maher, L., E.B. Banning and M. Chazan (2011) Oasis or Mirage? Assessing the Role of Abrupt Climate Change in the Prehistory of the Southern Levant. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 21(1): 1-29.

Richter, T., A. Garrard, S. Allcock, and L. Maher (2011) Interaction Before Agriculture: Exchanging Material and Shared Knowledge in the Final Pleistocene Levant. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 21(1): 95-114.

Richter, T., J.T. Stock, L. Maher, and C. Hebron (2010) An Early Epipalaeolithic Sitting Burial from the Azraq Oasis, Eastern Jordan. Antiquity 84: 1-14.

Richter, T., S. Allcock, M. Jones, L. Maher, L. Martin, J. Stock and B. Thorne (2010) New light on Final Pleistocene settlement diversity in the Azraq Basin: some preliminary results from Ayn Qasiyah. Paléorient 35(2): 49-68.

Lahr, M.M., R. Foley, F. Crivellaro, M. Okumura, L. Maher, T. Davies, D. Veldhuuis, A. Wilshaw, and D. Mattingly (2009) DMP IV: Preliminary results from 2009 fieldwork on the human prehistory of the Libyan Sahara. Libyan Studies 40: 133-153.

Lahr, M.M., R. Foley, S. Armitage, H. Barton, F. Crivellaro, N. Drake, M. Hounslow, L. Maher, D. Mattingly, M. Salem, J. Stock and K. White (2008) DMPIII: Pleistocene and Holocene palaeoenvironments and prehistoric occupation of Fazzan, Libyan Sahara. Libyan Studies 39: 263-294.

Lahr, M.M., H. Barton, F. Crivellaro, R. Foley, L. Maher, J. Stock (2007) The central Saharan route out of sub-Saharan Africa: Palaeolithic and palaeoanthropological research. In Desert Migrations: people, environment and culture in the Libyan Sahara (by Mattingly, D., M.M.Lahr, S. Armitage, H. Barton, J. Dore, N. Drake, R. Foley, S. Merlo, M. Salem, J. Stock and K. White) Libyan Studies 38: 122-136.

Kuijt, I., W. Finlayson, N. Goodale, S. Denis, S. Smith, L. Maher, S. Kadowaki, and T. Aprin (2003) Dhra’ Excavation Project, 2002 Interim Report. Levant 35: 1-38.

Maher, L. and E.B. Banning (2002) Geoarchaeological Survey and the Epipalaeolithic in Northern Jordan. Antiquity 76: 313-314.

Maher, L., M. Lohr, M. Betts, C. Parslow and E.B. Banning (2001) Middle Epipalaeolithic Sites in Wadi Ziqlab, Northern Jordan. Paléorient 27(1): 5-19.

Maher, L., G.J. Borradaile and M. O’Connor (2000) The Romanesque Frieze at Lincoln Cathedral (England)–Primary or Secondary Insertion? Magnetic Considerations. Archaeometry 42(1): 225-236.

Borradaile, G.J., T. Lane, F. Lagroix, L. Maher, T. Lane, P. Linford and N. Linford (1999) Attempts to Date Salt-Making Activity in Iron Age Britain using Magnetic Inclinations. Journal of Archaeological Science 26(11): 1377-1389.

Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters

Maher, L.A. and D.A. Macdonald (2022) Burning Down the House: Epipalaeolithic Mortuary Behaviors with Links to Architecture in Prehistoric Jordan. In Dealing with the Dead: Studies on Burial Practices in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic Levant, D. Ackerfield and A. Gopher (eds.). Studies in Early Near Eastern Production, Subsistence and Environment 23. Berlin: ex oriente, pp. 47-64.

Macdonald, D. and Maher, L. (2022) A Space for Living and Dying: The Life-History of Kharaneh IV Structures. In More Than Shelter from the Storm: Hunter-Gatherer Houses and the Built Environment, B. Andrews and D. Macdonald (Eds.). Gainesville: University of Florida Press, pp. 58-82.

Macdonald, D. and L. Maher (2022) Early Epipalaeolithic Artistic Traditions: An incised stone plaquette from Kharaneh IV, eastern Jordan. In Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan XIV: Cultures in Crisis: Flows of People, Artifacts and Ideas. Proceedings of the International Conference on the History and Archaeology of Jordan, Y. Elayan (ed). Department of Antiquities of Jordan: Amman, pp. 27-38.

Maher, L., White, AJ, Brown, J., De Pena, F. and C. Ames (2021) From Wetlands to Deserts: The Role of Water in the Prehistoric Occupation of Eastern Jordan. In Palaeolandscapes in Archaeology: Lessons for the Past and Future, M. Carson (ed). New York: Routledge, pp. 82-129.

Kadowaki, S., Maher, L., Portillo, M. & R.M. Albert. (2020) Geoarchaeological investigation of storage space at Göytepe: Phytolith, spherulite, and micromorphological analyses. In Göytepe-Neolithic Excavations in the Middle Kura Valley, Azerbaijan. Y. Nishiaki and F. Guliyev (eds.). Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 109-136.

Maher, L. (2020) Chapter 6: Naga ed-Deir Flint and Bone Assemblage. In The Phoebe A. Hearst Expedition to Naga ed-Deir: Cemeteries N2000 and N2500, V. Davies (ed.). University of California, Berkeley, Archaeological Research Facility: Berkeley, pp. 360-367.

Maher, L. (2020) Hunter-Gatherer-Home-Making? Building Landscape and Community in the Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic. In Consciousness and creative at the dawn of settled life: the test-case of Çatalhöyük. I. Hodder (ed.), Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 31-62.

Maher, L. and D. Macdonald (2020) Communities of Interaction: Tradition and learning in stone tool production through the lens of Epipalaeolithic Kharaneh IV, Jordan. In Culture History and Convergent Evolution: Can we identify ancient populations using material culture? H. Groucutt (ed.), Oxford University Press: Oxford, pp. 213-243.

Macdonald, D. and L. Maher (2020) Domestic Tasks at Kharaneh IV: Understanding the Epipalaeolithic toolkit through microwear. In Hunter-Gatherers Tool Kit: a functional perspective. J. Gibaja, I. Clemente, N. Mazzucco and J. Marreiros (eds). Cambridge Scholars Press: Newcastle Upon Tyne, pp. 197-214.

Maher, L. (2017) Late Quaternary Refugia, Aggregations and Palaeoenvironments in the Azraq Basin. In Quaternary Environments, Climate Change and Humans in the Levant, O. Bar-Yosef and Y. Enzel (eds.). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 679-689.

Maher, L. (2016) A Road Well-Travelled? Exploring Terminal Pleistocene Hunter-Gatherer Activities, Networks and Mobility in Eastern Jordan. In Archaeology of the Palaeolithic-Neolithic of Eurasia: Papers in Honor of Andrew M.T. Moore, M. Chazan and K. Lillios (eds.). Sidestone Press: Leiden, pp. 49-75.

Jones, M., L. Maher, T. Richter, D. Macdonald and L. Martin (2016) Human-Environment Interactions through the Epipalaeolithic of Eastern Jordan. In Correlation is not Enough: Building Better Arguments in the Archaeology of Human-Environment Interactions, D. Contreras (ed.). Routledge: New York, pp. 121-140.

Maher, L., T. Richter, J.T. Stock and M. Jones (2014) Preliminary Results from Recent Excavations at the Epipalaeolithic Site of Kharaneh IV, In Jordan’s Prehistory: Past and Future Research, M. Jamhawi (ed.). Department of Antiquities of Jordan, Amman, pp. 81-92.

Richter, T., M. Jones, L. Maher, and J.T. Stock (2014) The Early and Middle Epipalaeolithic in the Azraq Oasis: Excavations at Ain Qasiyya and AWS-48, In Jordan’s Prehistory: Past and Future Research, M. Jamhawi (ed.). Department of Antiquities of Jordan, Amman, pp. 93-108.

Maher, L. and D. Macdonald (2013) Assessing typo-technological variability in Epipalaeolithic assemblages: Preliminary results from two case studies from the Southern Levant. In: The State of Stone: Terminologies, Continuities and Contexts in Near Eastern Lithics. Studies in Early Near Eastern Production, Subsistence and Environment 14, F. Borrell, M. Molist and J.J. Ibanez (eds.). Ex oriente: Berlin, pp. 29-44.

Richter, T. and L. Maher (2013) The Natufian of the Azraq Basin: An Appraisal. In Natufian Foragers in the Levant: Terminal Pleistocene Social Changes in Western Asia, O. Bar-Yosef and F. Valla (eds). International Monographs in Prehistory: Ann Arbor, pp. 429-448.

Maher, L. and T. Richter (2011) PPN Predecessors: Current Issues in Late Pleistocene Chipped Stone Analyses in the Southern Levant. In The State of Stone: Terminologies, Continuities and Contexts in Near Eastern Lithics. Studies in Early Near Eastern Production, Subsistence and Environment 13, E. Healey, S. Campbell and O. Maeda (eds). Ex oriente: Berlin, pp. 25-31.

Maher, L. (2010) People and their places at the end of the Pleistocene: evaluating perspectives on physical and cultural landscape change. In Landscapes in Transition: understanding hunter-gatherer and farmer landscapes in the early Holocene of Europe and the Levant, W. Finlayson and G. Warren (eds.). Oxbow Books: London, pp. 34-45.

Maher, L. (2009) The Late Pleistocene of Arabia in Relation to the Levant. In The Evolution and History of Human Populations in Arabia: Paleoenvironments, Prehistory and Genetics, Vertebrate Paleobiology, Paleontology 187, M. Petraglia and J. Rose (eds.), Springer: New York, pp. 187-202.    

Maher, L. (2007) Microliths and Mortuary Practices: New Perspectives on the Epipalaeolithic in Northern and Eastern Jordan. Book chapter in Crossing Jordan: North American Contributions to the Archaeology of Jordan, T.E. Levy, M. Daviau, R.W. Younker, and M. Shaer (eds.), Equinox: London, pp. 195-202.


In the News

What ancient poop reveals about the rise and fall of civilizations

The pre-Columbian city of Cahokia was once among the most populous and bustling settlements north of Mexico. But by 1400 A.D., Cahokia’s population had dwindled to virtually nothing. While theories abound about what happened to the indigenous people of Cahokia, AJ White, a Ph.D. student in anthropology at UC Berkeley, has studied ancient poop samples to connect the city’s 13th century population plunge – at least in part – to climate change.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
February 17, 2021
Bruce Bower
Middle Eastern hunter-gatherers changed their relationship with the dead nearly 20,000 years ago. Clues to that spiritual shift come from the discovery of an ancient woman's fiery burial in a hut at a seasonal campsite. Burials of people in houses or other structures, as well as cremations, are thought to have originated in Neolithic-period farming villages in and around the Middle East no earlier than about 10,000 years ago. But those treatments of the dead appear to have had roots in long-standing practices of hunter-gatherers, says a team led by archaeologists Lisa Maher of the University of California, Berkeley and Danielle Macdonald of the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma.
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