Robin Beck's research interests include the archaeology and ethnohistory of complex societies in eastern North America and the Andes of Bolivia and Peru, early colonial encounters in what is now the southern United States, and the broader issues related to social organization and change.
For his dissertation work, he excavated a Middle Formative (800–400 BC) ritual platform at the site of Alto Pukara, located in Bolivia's Lake Titicaca Basin at an altitude of 3800 m. His research at Alto Pukara used Lévi-Strauss’ concept of the social house to understand transformations in public space during the Formative Period.
Alto Pukara mound; crew; gold; Str. 1 & 2
Since 2001, concurrent with his Andean work, Rob has co-directed the Exploring Joara Project, which focuses on the archaeology and early colonial history of Native American societies in the North Carolina Piedmont. Rob and his collegues have directed NSF-supported research along the Catawba River at the Berry site, location of the native town of Joara and the Spanish garrison Fort San Juan, built by the Juan Pardo expedition in 1567. Manned by thirty soldiers for eighteen months, this fort is the earliest European settlement in the interior of what is now the United States. Its excavation is shedding new light on the process and practice of colonialism near the very beginning of the colonial era.
Str. 1, 2008c; Str. 1, 2008g; Str.; Str. 5, mosaic top