Michele Koons, PhD

Dr. Michele Koons studies ancient complex societies. She is especially interested in ancient political dynamics, social networks, and how people of the past interacted with their environment. In her research, Dr. Koons uses different geophysical methods and remote sensing tools, as well as traditional archaeological techniques like excavation and pedestrian survey.


  • 1

    In Press Koons, M. and B. Alex Reevaluating Moche Chronology through Bayesian Methods. Radiocarbon 56(4)

  • 2

    2013 Koons, M. Reexamining Tiwanaku’s Urban Renewal through Ground-Penetrating Radar and Excavation: The Results of Three Field Seasons. In Advances in Titicaca Basin Archaeology - 2, edited by A. Vranich. Los Angeles, CA: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, University of California Los Angeles

  • 3

    2012 Quilter, J.  M. Koons The Fall of the Moche: A Critique of Claims for the South America’s First State. Latin American Antiquity 23(2): 172-143



The goal of this project is to look at past land-use history and human-environment dynamics in the Chicama Valley on the desert north coast of Peru. We are interested in the time period from when humans first started farming (about 3000 years ago) in this region up until the Spanish Conquest of the Peru in the 1500s. This region of the world only received on average .2 inches of rain a year except during El Niño events, which occur roughly every 10 years or so. Severe events can bring torrential rains and floods that destroy buildings, roads, and irrigation systems. To live in this part of the world, the people had to construct elaborate canal systems to pull water of the major rivers. Some of our questions include understanding the nature and use of the canal system, looking at where and what crops they grew, and investigating how people planned for and responded to floods and rains from El Niños and periods of prolonged drought. 

Proyecto Arqueológico Licapa II (Licapa II Archaeological Project)

This project investigates the ancient Moche civilization that lived on the north coast of Peru between 250 and 900 AD. Moche is recognized by distinct archaeological signatures (exquisitely decorated ceramics, monumental architecture, polychrome murals, metalwork, etc.) found over ten valley systems. This project explores the previously unstudied site of Licapa II, a mid-sized ceremonial center in the Chicama Valley. The goals are to understand the site itself and how the people residing at this site interacted with people at other Moche sites across the region.

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