Faculty » Sara K. Becker

Sara K. Becker Assistant Professor
Ph.D., 2013, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Office: 1309A Watkins Hall
Phone: (951) 827-6503
E-mail: sara.becker[at]ucr.edu

Professor Becker is a bioarchaeologist with studies in both North and South America covering ancient labor practices in emerging complex societies, gendered labor, biomechanics, and the health and diet of Native American groups during the European contact period. Her primary interests include modelling and reconstruction of prehistoric labor among the Tiwanaku culture (ca. A.D. 500-1100) of Bolivia and Peru, one of the earliest state-level societies to develop in the altiplano of the Lake Titicaca Basin. This multiethnic culture predates the Inca by approximately 1,000 years and Tiwanaku was able to control vast high and low elevation South Central Andean regions through nontraditional and mostly nonviolent methods, especially when compared to contemporaneous state-level societies. Using skeletal markers of activity on human bone, Dr. Becker documents the formation of this high elevation state (3800m/12,500 ft. a.s.l.) and its development of labor reciprocity as an inclusionary method that kept this complex society functioning for over 500 years. Current projects expand osteological information through recording additional activity patterns on skeletal anatomy in areas of the hands, feet, and spine, adding to the understanding of how groups lived and worked within this region. In addition, future research explores computer-aided motion capture modeling of traditional activities among Andean Aymara people, the likely descendants of the Tiwanaku.


2018 National Geographic Explorers Grant for the project Motion Capture Computer Modeling Ancient Labor Practices in Bolivia and Peru ($46,958)

2017 Hellman Fellowship for the project: Motion Capture Computer Modelling Ancient Labor Practices in Bolivia and Peru ($30,000)

2017 OpEd Project Fellowship - “Write to Change the World” from the UC Merced Center for the Humanities


Undergraduate: Biological Anthropology, Biological Approaches to Medical Anthropology, Biological Anthropology Methods, Forensic Anthropology, Bioarchaeology, Human Osteology

Graduate: Social Bioarchaeology, Paleopathology, Proposal Writing and Publishing in Bioarchaeology and Archaeology


Becker, S.K. (2019) Labor across an Occupational and Gendered Taskscape: Bones and Bodies of the Tiwanaku State (AD 500-1100), Bioarchaeology International, in press.

Gagnon, C.M. and Becker, S.K. (2019) Susquehannock Lives 1575-1675: Insights from Skeletal Remains, accepted Aug. 2018 for Historical Archaeologyin press for volume 53, issue 3.

Becker, S.K. and Alconini, S. (2018) Violence, Power, and Head Extraction in the Kallawaya Region, Bolivia. In: Social Skins of the Head: Beliefs and Ritual in Ancient Mesoamerica and the Andes. Lozada, M.C. and Tiesler, V., eds. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, pp. 235-252. https://unmpress.com/books/social-skins-head/9780826359636

Alconini, S. and Becker, S.K. (2018) Sacrificio, Decapitación, y Remoción Ocular: Estrategias Tiwanaku de Control Político y Religioso en los Valles Orientales. In: Avances Recientes en Datación y Arqueometría en los Andes. Ghezzi, I. and Salcedo, L.E., eds. Lima, Peru: IFEA, pp. 277-296. http://www.ifea.org.pe/libreria/actes-et-memoires/045/

Becker, S.K. and Goldstein, P.S. (2017) Evidence of Osteoarthritis in the Tiwanaku Colony, Moquegua, Peru (AD 500-1100). International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, https://doi.org/10.1002/oa.2634

Juengst, S.L. and Becker, S.K., editors. (2017) The Bioarchaeology of Community. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association (AP3A), Volume 28. https://doi.org/10.1111/apaa.12083

Becker, S.K. and Juengst, S.L. (2017) Introduction: Establishing a Bioarchaeology of Community. In: The Bioarchaeology of Community. Juengst, S.L. and Becker, S.K., eds. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association (AP3A) 28:6-12. https://doi.org/10.1111/apaa.12084

Becker, S.K. (2017) Community Labor and Laboring Communities of the Tiwanaku State (AD 500-1100). In: The Bioarchaeology of Community. Juengst, S.L. and Becker, S.K., eds. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association (AP3A) 28:38-53. https://doi.org/10.1111/apaa.12087

Becker, S.K. (2016) Skeletal Evidence of Craft Production from the Ch'iji Jawira Site in Tiwanaku, Bolivia. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 9:405-415. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.08.017

Becker, S.K. and Alconini, S. (2015) Head Extraction, Interregional Exchange, and Political Strategies of Control at the Site of Wata Wata, Kallawaya Territory, Bolivia, during the Transition between the Late Formative and Tiwanaku Periods (AD 200-800). Latin American Antiquity 26(1):30-48. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7183/1045-6635.26.1.30

Becker, S.K. (2013) Health Consequences of Contact on Two Seventeenth Century Native Groups from the Mid-Atlantic Region of Maryland. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 17(4):713-730. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-013-0240-3