mpiscitelli's picture

Graduate Research Assistant


I am an anthropological archaeologist investigating the role of religion in the emergence of social complexity. How do early leaders use religious ritual as a base of power? Why do many societies across the globe develop a tradition of building ceremonial architecture as they transition from hunting and gathering to sedentary agricultural villages? For my dissertation research I used modern scientific techniques to reconstruct ancient religious rituals at the Late Archaic (3000-1800 B.C.) of Huaricanga along the north-central coast of Peru. To learn more about this investigation, please visit the Huaricanga Archaeological Research Project (HARP) website.

Additional Information


2014  Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago
2009  M.A., University of Illinois at Chicago
2007  B.A., Boston University


Andean prehistory, development of complex societies, religion, remote sensing, GIS, geoarchaeology, archaeochemistry

Grants & awards

2012  National Science Foundation, Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (No. 1249577) for “Ritual is Power: Small-Scale Late Archaic Ceremonial Architecture in the Norte Chico” ($22104).
2012  The Curtiss T. & Mary G. Brennan Foundation Grant for Archaeological Field Research for "Ritual is Power: Investigating Late Archaic Temple  Structures on the North Central Coast of Peru" ($5000).
2012  National Geographic Society Young Explorer's Grant for "The Mito Architectural Tradition on the North Central Coast of Peru during the Late Archaic" ($5000).
2011  UIC Chancellor's Graduate Research Fellowship for "Using Modern Tools to Reconstruct Ancient Ritual in Peru" ($8000).
2011  Women’s Board Field Dreams Program for "Reconstructing Everyday Life in Ancient Peru" ($2500).
2011  Archaeometry Research Grant for “A Geochemical Study of Decorated Earthenware Production and Distribution in the Philippine Trading Polity of Tanjay” ($891).
2010  Provost’s Award for Graduate Research for  “Predictive Mapping of Late Archaic Domestic Structures in the Norte  Chico, Peru” ($1200).
2008  Charles Reed Memorial Fund for travel to Peru ($1000).
2006-07 BU Student Research Grant on Latin America ($1400).
2006-07 BU Funded Research Opportunities Grant ($500).


Christie, Jessica Joyce and Matthew Piscitelli

in press “Stone Cults in the Andes: The Role of Ideology in Emerging Hierarchies at Late Archaic and Early Horizon Sites Along the Central Coast of Peru.”  In Ritual and Archaic States edited by Joanne M. A. Murphy.  Gainesville: University Press of Florida. 

Haas, Jonathan and Matthew Piscitelli

2013  “The Prehistory of Warfare: Misled by Ethnography.”  In War, Peace, and Human Nature edited by Douglas P. Fry, pp. 168-190.  New York: Oxford University Press.

2012  “The Rise of Andean Pre-Inca Civilizations: Introduction.”  In The Oxford Companion to Archaeology edited by Neil Asher Silberman, vol. 1, pp. 71-74.  New York: Oxford University Press. 

Piscitelli, Matthew

2013  “Understanding Early Cultural Complexity in Coastal Peru: Investigations of Small-Scale Ceremonial Architecture at the Late Archaic Site of Huaricanga, Fortaleza Valley.” The Current1(2).

2013  “Using Social Networks to Fundraise: Crowdfunding for the Archaeologist.”  The SAA Archaeological Record 13(4): 36-39.

2012  “Connecticut (consumption, waste collection and disposal).”  In Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage edited by Carl A. Zimring (consulting editor, William Rathje), pp. 145-147.  Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Piscitelli, Matthew and Brian S. Bauer

2013  “Imperial Inca Cuzco.”  In Inka: Kings of the Andes.  Darmstadt/Mainz, Germany: Verlage Philipp von Zabern. 

2013  “The Imperial Religion of the Inca: Shrines and Mummies.”  In Inka: Kings of the Andes.  Darmstadt/Mainz, Germany: Verlage Philipp von Zabern.  

Piscitelli, Matthew and Samuel Duwe

2007  “Choosing an Archaeological Field School.”  The SAA Archaeological Record 7(1): 9-11.

Work experience

2013-Present Instructor, University of Illinois at Chicago

2010-Present Graduate Research Assistant, The Field Museum

2007-2012 Teaching Assistant, University of Illinois at Chicago

Professional affiliations

Society for American Archaeology

American Anthropological Association

Sigma Xi

Phi Beta Kappa

Lambda Alpha National Collegiate Honor Society for Anthropology