Deetz, James

Deetz, James (John Fanto)

(1930–  ) anthropologist, archaeologist, museum administrator; born in Cumberland, Md. He was educated at Harvard through the Ph.D. His early work focused on North American Indians, and in his studies of residence patterns and ceramic decoration as a reflection of social organization, he was one of the first American contributors to the scientific methodology that created the so-called "new archaeology"; his most notable publication in this area was The Dynamics of Stylistic Change in Arikara Ceramics (1965). While teaching at Brown University (1967–78), he served as the assistant director of Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts (1967–78) and participated in the excavations and historical research that led to the restored site's becoming a major tourist attraction. By this time he had become one of the American leaders of historical archaeology and he went on to teach at the University of California: Berkeley (1978–93) before moving to the University of Virginia (1993). He became an authority on the colonial American gravestones as well as on the artifacts and customs of colonial Americans and he wrote widely on early colonial life in such works as In Small Things Forgotten (1977) and Flowerdew Hundred: The Archaeology of a Virginia Plantation, 1619–1864 (1993).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.