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David Orr, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor (Teaching) and adjunct Graduate Faculty member

Email: daveorr@temple.edu
Office telephone: 215-204-9372


My teaching and research interests are varied and have evolved throughout my career. Trained as a classical archaeologist, I received my Ph.D. degree from the University of Maryland and then won the Prix de Rome at the American Academy in Rome, where I was in residence from 1971-73. As an undergraduate (1963-64), I had worked two summer field schools with the River Basin Surveys (Smithsonian Institution) on prehistoric sites in Iowa and South Dakota.

As a member of the American Civilization Department at the University of Pennsylvania from 1973-78, I was able to foster my American historical archaeological and material culture theory interests. I assisted in two field schools in historical archaeology with John Cotter and taught courses in Vernacular Architecture, Material Culture, Industrial Archaeology, and Popular Culture. I wrote a major exhibit staged at Penn on Political Material Culture and later co-wrote another major exhibit at the Academy of Natural History on the Delaware River Waterman, emphasizing wildfowl decoys and other ethnographic materials.

From 1978-2003, I was a National Park Service Supervisory Archaeologist, mostly as the Regional Archaeologist for the Mid-Atlantic area, and developed enduring interests in battlefield and urban historical archaeology. My work took me to Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Jamestown, Valley Forge, Fort McHenry, Independence, City Point, Petersburg, and other parks, where I excavated and interpreted in various media. Among my awards was the Crystal Owl, a national award which recognizes excellence in interpretation.

After coming to Temple, initially as part of a cooperative agreement between the University and the National Park Service, I quickly began to involve my students in historical archaeological investigations and projects. This trend accelerated after 2006, when I retired from the government and devoted myself full-time to the Department of Anthropology. I have been extremely successful in funding my students with numerous grants and research projects. For example, during 2009, I worked to get funding from Northampton Township in New Jersey to conduct work at the archaeological site of a large African-American community called Timbuctoo (founded 1826). Two graduate students have been active there, and opportunities still exist for major research. I organized a research project at Valley Forge for three other Temple students and also received a grant to assist the Temple field school in archaeology at Valley Forge. This work has proceeded until the present. Many of my recent students have given major papers at national conferences in both historical archaeology and cultural anthropology. Some have been recognized for their efforts; one was recently awarded the best graduate paper at the 2010 annual meeting of CNEHA, and another won the coveted John Cotter Award, given annually by the Society for Historical Archaeology (2014). Three have recently appeared as chapter authors in my recent (2014) co-edited volume The Historical Archaeology of the Delaware Valley. Just this year (2014), another student's research will constitute a chapter in a major peer-reviewed volume by Texas A&M University Press.

My research interests include military archaeology, in which I have co-edited three volumes, and the archaeology of Philadelphia, where I continue to conduct active research and publish discoveries. I am also interested in historical ceramics, the management of archaeological and historic sites, material culture theory, the archaeology of Roman Pompeii and Roman religion, and popular culture. All of these subjects are reflected in my teaching at Temple. I firmly subscribe to the holistic approach to cultural history and research and the ancillary idea that excavation should be done publicly and interpreted aggressively. In 2012, I was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Archaeology by the Mid-Atlantic Archaeological Conference. My most ambitious project in recent years is the utilization of the material culture confronted during my childhood (ages 6-12) as an ethnohistoric study set in a WWII government project in Warren, Ohio.


Selected publications:

"Pear Valley et al.: An Excursion into the Analysis of Southern Vernacular Architecture" w/Bernard Herman. Southern Folklore Quarterly. Dec. 1975.

"Roman Domestic Religion: The Evidence of the Household Shrines". In Aufstieg und Niedergang der Romischen Welt, II,16,2, 1978.

The People of Minisink, w/ Douglas Campana, National Park Service, 1981.

"The Ethnography of Big Mac" in Ronald Revisited, edited by Marshall Fishwick, Popular Press, Bowling Green University, 1983.

The Scope of Historical Archaeology, co-edited with Daniel Crozier, Laboratory of Anthropology, Temple University, 1984. A Festschrift volume in honor of John L. Cotter.

"The Archaeology of Trauma: An Introduction to the Archaeology of the American Civil War" in Look to the Earth: Historical Archaeology and the American Civil War, edited by Clarence Geier and Susan Winter, University of Tennessee Press, 1994.

"Pompeii: a Site for All Seasons" in Ancient Muses: Archaeology and the Arts, edited by John Jameson, University Press of Florida, 2003.

"Samuel Malchin in Philadelphia" in Ceramics in America, edited by Rob Hunter, New England University Press, 2003.

"Cabin in Command: the Headquarters Cabin of Ulysses S. Grant at City Point" in Huts and History: The Historical Archaeology of American Military Encampment During the Civil War, edited by Clarence Geier and David G. Orr, University Press of Florida, 2006.

Witness to the Past, co-edited with Daniel Roberts, SAA Press, 2007.

Historical Archaeology of Military Sites: Method and Topic, co-edited with C. Geier, L. Babits, and Douglas Scott, Texas A&M Press, 2011.

"The Aurelian Wall in Rome: Renaissance Fortification Theory and Practice" in Proto-Colonial Fortifications, edited by Eric Klingelhofer, Brill, 2010.

The Historical Archaeology of the Delaware Valley, co-edited with Richard Veit, University of Tennessee Press, 2014.

Forthcoming work this year (2014-15) includes several book chapters, two introductory essays in specialized volumes, and two more co-edited works on conflict archaeology.


Department of Anthropology | Gladfelter Hall, second floor | 1115 West Berks Street | Philadelphia, PA 19122
Voice mail: 215-204-7577 Fax: 215-204-1410