Dan Sandweiss

Address: Anthropology Department, South Stevens Hall, Orono, ME 04469


I am an archaeologist interested in climate change and cultural dynamics, use of the archaeological record as a climate proxy, and ancient maritime adaptations, particularly in western South America.

Research Area:

I investigate prehistoric coastal adaptations, primarily in Peru. Topical interests include the effects on cultural development of climate change, particularly the prehistory of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, and environmental change, particularly rising sea level during the last deglaciation; also the development and organization of complex societies in the coastal setting. Methodological interests include the analysis of molluscan remains from archaeological sites. Current projects include Holocene upwelling patterns on the Peruvian coast; investigation of Terminal Pleistocene/Early Holocene maritime adaptations at sites in southern Peru; study of northern Peruvian beach ridge sequences and their relation to El Niño and tectonic activity; study of the sediment cycle and social change in north central Peru; and early monument building on the north coast of Peru.

Selected Publications (see here for additional publications and CV for full list):

Sandweiss, D.H., and K.A. Maasch. 2022.  El Niño’s role in changing fauna.  Science 377:1153-1164.

Sandweiss, D.H., C.F.T. Andrus, A.R. Kelley, K.A. Maasch, E.J. Reitz, and P.B. Roscoe. 2020. Archaeological Climate Proxies and the Complexities of Reconstructing Holocene El Niño in Coastal Peru. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117:8271–8279.

St. Amand, F., S.T. Childs, E.J. Reitz, S. Heller, B. Newsom, T.C. Rick, D.H. Sandweiss, and R. Wheeler. 2020. Leveraging legacy archaeological collections as proxies for climatic and environmental research. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117:8287–8294.

St. Amand, F., D.H. Sandweiss, and A.R. Kelley. 2020. Climate-driven Migration: Prioritizing Cultural Resources Threatened by Secondary Impacts of Climate Change. Natural Hazards. doi:10.1007/s11069-020-04053-1.

Reitz, E.J., D.H. Sandweiss, and N.R. Cannarozzi.  2019.  Fishing on the Frontier: Vertebrate Remains from Amotape, Siches, and Honda Phase Occupations at Sitio Siches (Pv 7-19), Perú. Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History 56(4):109-181.

Sandweiss, D.H.  2017.  Zooarchaeology in the 21st Century: Comments on the Contributions. In Climate Change and Past Human Responses: An Archaeozoological Perspective, ed. by Gregory G. Monks, pp. 219-225. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series. New York: Springer.

Sandweiss, D.H., C.F.T. Andrus, F. Chai, A.R. Kelley, K.A. Maasch, and E.J. Reitz. 2016. Re: ENSO Variability and Archaeological Proxies (Comment on Rustic et al. 2015, Dynamical excitation of the tropical Pacific Ocean and ENSO variability by Little Ice Age cooling, Science 350:1537-1541).  Science e-Letters <http://science.sciencemag.org/content/350/6267/1537.e-letters>

Belknap, D.F. and D.H. Sandweiss. 2014. The Effect of the Spanish Conquest on Coastal Change in Northwest Peru. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111:7986-7989.

Etayo-Cadavid, M.F., C.F.T. Andrus, K.B. Jones, G.W.L. Hodgins, D.H. Sandweiss, S. Uceda C., and J. Quilter. 2013. Marine Radiocarbon Reservoir Age Variation in Donax Obesulus Shells from Northern Peru: Late Holocene Evidence for Extended El Niño. Geology 41:599-602.

Sandweiss, D.H. and A.R. Kelley. 2012. Archaeological Contributions to Climate Change Research: The Archaeological Record as a Paleoclimatic and Paleoenvironmental Archive. Annual Review of Anthropology 41:371–391.

Sandweiss, D.H., R. Shady S., M.E. Moseley, D.K. Keefer, and C.R. Ortloff. 2009. Environmental change and economic development in coastal Peru between 5,800 and 3,600 years ago. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106:1359–1363.

Sandweiss, D.H., K.A. Maasch, F. Chai, C.F.T. Andrus, and E.J. Reitz. 2004. Geoarchaeological Evidence for Multi-decadal Natural Climatic Variability and Ancient Peruvian Fisheries. Quaternary Research 61:330-334.

Sandweiss, D.H. 2003. Terminal Pleistocene through Mid-Holocene Archaeological Sites as Paleoclimatic Archives for the Peruvian coast. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 194:23-40.

Andrus, C.F.T., Crowe, D.E., Sandweiss, D.H.,Reitz, E.J., and Romanek, C.S. 2002. Otolith ∂18O Record of Mid-Holocene Sea Surface Temperatures in Peru. Science 295:1508-1511

Sandweiss, D.H., K.A. Maasch, R.L. Burger, J.B. Richardson III, H.B. Rollins, A. Clement. 2001. Variation in Holocene El Niño frequencies: Climate records and cultural consequences in ancient Peru. Geology 29:603-606.

Sandweiss, D.H., K.A. Maasch, and D.G. Anderson. 1999.  Climate and Culture: Transitions in the Mid-Holocene. Science 283:499-500.

Sandweiss, D.H., J.B. Richardson III, E.J. Reitz, H.B. Rollins, and K.A. Maasch. 1996. Geoarchaeological Evidence from Peru for a 5000 Years B.P. Onset of El Niño. Science 273:1531-1533.