Dr. David Robinson

Lecturer in Archaeology

School of Forensic and Applied Sciences

JB Firth Building, JBF108

+44 (0) 1772 89 3756


Subject Areas: Archaeology

David is research within the area of archaeology and is a member of the Archaeology Research Group.

Full Profile

David has extensive experience in professional and academic archaeology in both prehistoric and historical archaeology, with an emphasis on the Archaeology of the American West, the Archaeology of the Modern World, Rock-Art, British Prehistory, Indigenous Perception, Perishable Materials, Colonialism and Indigeneity.

He supervises graduate students working on a range of topics, including a number of both domestic and international students focused on North American Archaeology. He is co-founder of BRAG, the British Rock Art Group, and NAARG, the North American Archaeology Research Group for UK based network of researchers.


PhD. Archaeology, University of Cambridge2006.
BA. Anthropology (Cultural Emphasis) (Hons), University of California, Santa Barbara, 2001.
AA. Associate of Arts - Language and Literature (Hons), American River College, 1999.

David had an article published on The Conversation in December 2017 about how virtual reality is being used to study and open up access to archaeological sites that are difficult to get to.  The article is entitled ‘How virtual reality is opening up some of the world’s most inaccessible archaeological sites’.


Robinson, DW. 2013. Polyvalent Metaphors in South-Central California Missionary Processes. American Antiquity 78.

In Press. Bernard, Julienne, D.W. Robinson, and Fraser F. Sturt. 2013. Points of Refuge in the South Central California Colonial Hinterlands. In New Perspectives on Spanish Missions in the Indigenous Landscape, edited by Lee Panich and Tsim Schneider. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Robinson, David Wayne (2013) Drawing Upon the Past: Temporal Ontology and Mythological Ideology in South-Central Californian Rock-Art. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 23 (03). pp. 373-394. ISSN 0959-7743

Robinson, David Wayne (2010) Land use, land ideology: an integrated Geographic Information Systems analysis of the Emigdiano Chumash rock art, South-Central California. American Antiquity, 74 (4). pp. 792-818. ISSN 0002-7316

More publications

Research Activities

David's research examines the role of art and environment, archaeology of the Modern World, and aspects of Indigeneity in relation to European colonialism in South-Central California and the American West. His current interests examine polyvalent processes between the Spanish, Mexican, American, and the Chumash plus other native groups as played out in facets of material culture, landscape, and environment .

A new project is investigating the archaeology of the Californian site of Cache Cave and the role of basketry and other perishable items in the wealth dynamics of the interior Chumash traversing the prehistoric/historical divide. This project is supported by the British Academy and the American Philosophical Society.

David is also involved in projects on the Archaeology of Modernity, with previous work conducted on the graffiti of Barcelona, but with current research focussed on the North of Britian.

Another core research theme looks at rock-art and indigenous perception (ontology and myth) of indigenous Californians from prehistory through Modern times focussing on the enculturation of the environment. He also has long standing interest in the archaeology of British Prehistory, with experience on major projects at Avebury and Stonehenge.

List of Projects

External Roles

Editorial Advisory Board, Cambridge Archaeological Journal

Society for American Archaeology

Society for California Archaeology

NAARG (North American Archaeology Research Group).

Teaching Activities and Responsibilities

Course Leader MSci in Archaeology

Module tutor for:
FZ1201 The Archaeology of Britain
FZ 2208/3204 Life and Death in Medieval Britain.
FZ 2209/3205 Archaeology of the Modern World

Graduate students.
David is currently the DOS (Director of Studies) for these students:
Michelle Wienhold: Spatial Analysis and Actor-Network Theory: A multi-scalar analytical study of the Chumash rock art of South-Central California

Melonie Shier: An Archaeology of Belonging: Between an attachment to place and landscape identity at the historic site of San Emigdio Ranch in South Central California.

Randy Ottenhoff: Incised Stones of the Great Basin: A Contextual Archaeology

Garnor Wood: Practitioner, Professional and the Public. Examining the Impact of Experimental Archaeology on Different User Groups

Previous graduate students that David was DOS for:
Wendy Whitby (PhD.)
Melonie Shier (Masters by Research)
Clare Bedford (Masters by Research)


Organised Conference Symposia ~

With Jamie Hampson (University of Cambridge)

North American Landscapes & Seascapes: a Transatlantic View. The North American Archaeological Research Group Inaugural Symposium, held 11 Feb. 2011 at the McDonald Institute of Archaeology, Cambridge

With Wendy Whitby (University of Central Lancashire), Jamie Hampson (University of Cambridge), Jeff Oliver (University of Aberdeen); Fraser Sturt (Southampton University)

The Forgotten Continent? Theorizing North America for UK based researchers: a symposium held at the 2010 Theoretical Archaeology Group Meetings, Bristol

With Blaze O’Connor (University College, Dublin)

Excavating Art: a symposium held at the World Archaeological Congress 2008, Dublin.. Paper: DW Robinson, D. Gillete, and F. Sturt. Archives, excavations and environment: linking rock art to landscape in case studies from California

With Gale Grasse-Sprague, Julienne Barnard, Matthew Armstrong, and Jack Sprague

Inland, Interior, and Interface I, II, & III: Current Research within South-Central California: a series of symposiums held at the Society of California Archaeology Annual Meetings, 2005, 2006, & 2006. Papers: Ethnographic and Archaeological Tensions: Digital modeling and the spatial analysis of eight interior Chumash rock-art locales; Local ideologies, local identities: land-use and rock-art of the Emigdiano Chumash – a case study from the Wind Wolves Preserve; Taking the Bight Out of Complexity: Elaborating South-Central California Interior Landscapes.

David Robinson and Kevin Lane:

Phasing Places: Community Narratives and the (re)invention of Time. Session at the 2005 Theoretical Archaeology Group Meetings, Sheffield. Paper: Drawing upon the Past: superimposition and the creation of chronology within indigenous California

Dr. Christopher Chippendale, Larry Lowendorf, and David Robinson:

Rock-art, Research and Indigenous Communities: a symposium held at the Society for American Archaeology Annual Meetings, 2005, Salt Lake City, Utah. Paper: Bury, Rick, Dan Reeves, and David Robinson: Inclusive processes and integrated roles: resonance and results in Vandenberg rock-art projects.

David Robinson:

Practices in Rock-Art Research, 2003: Inaugural conference of the British Rock Art Group, McDonald Archaeological Institute, University of Cambridge. Paper: Artistic practitioners: talent and purpose in representations of California rock-art.

~ Selection of Conference and Society Papers ~
(complete list available upon request)

May ’12 Legitimizing Space: Art and the Politics of Place. Invited speaker, ‘Art Makes Society’ Symposium, Society for American Archaeology Meetings, Memphis.
May ’11 California: a land of many borders. Invited speaker to ‘California: a land of many…’ symposium, Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting, Sacramento.
April ’08 Integrating methodologies, advancing interpretation: new trajectories to rock-art, environment, and society. Invited speaker to the New Directions in California Archaeology, Plenary Symposium, Society for California Archaeology Annual Meeting.
April ’06 Rock Art and the Temporality of Physical Places: Advancing Applications of GIS and Four-Dimensional Modelling, with Fraser Sturt, Dan Reeves & Rick Bury. Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting. San Juan, Puerto Rico.
May ’05 Rock-art and its presence in landscape and taskscapes for the Emgidiano Chumash of South-Central California: an integrated GIS approach. Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting, 2005, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Dec ’04 The Art of St. Rock Street, Barcelona: malignant undercurrents within urban contestations. With H. Orengo: paper given at Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference, December 2004, University of Glasgow.
Nov ’04 Landscapes, soundscapes, and traditions of practice: The rock art of Hiregudda and Birappa rock shelter: Paper given a the ‘Fire, cattle, and domestication in Prehistoric India’ conference: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.