Alex Barker wears several different hats in MU’s Department of Anthropology and the Museum of Art and Archaeology. One of these hats involves his research and fieldwork on the European Bronze Age and the ancient American southeast. The other involves the directorship of MU’s Museum of Art and Archaeology. Standing at the crossroads of several disciplinary fields, most of Barker’s field research has in recent years dealt with a single broad question: how social complexity grows out of egalitarian societies. His fieldwork in North America and the Old World follows this transition over different periods and regions.
Barker talks about his work studying the European Bronze Age, which refers to a period of cultural history that succeeded the Stone Age and was characterized by the use of tools made of bronze and by metal smelting. The dates for the Bronze Age vary according to location, he explains, and the site he’s currently investigating is deeply stratified, meaning it has many levels of successive cultural occupation.