Krysta Ryzewski

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  • Historical and contemporary archaeology; landscape archaeology; urban archaeology; diaspora; colonialism; social justice & inequality; disasters & ecological stress; heritage management; public archaeology; materials science / archaeometry; digital & spatial humanities.  


I am a historical archaeologist who is interested in how people in the past navigated systemic inequalities and socio-environmental upheavals in the modern world - especially in colonial, diasporic, and urban/industrial settings. I think of archaeology as a tool that can be used to understand the present-day legacies and consequences of past disasters, conflicts, and injustices. This is why I prioritize practicing archaeology in collaboration with local communities, organizations, and governments - with an eye towards confronting issues of inequitable resource access, social justice, collaborative heritage management, and economic revitalization. 

I currently lead two major research projects: one on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, and another that involves multiple sites in the Detroit area. In Detroit and Hamtramck my research is focused on various historical and contemporary archaeology fieldwork and collections-based projects grouped under the framework of the Unearthing Detroit project (which I established in 2012). On Montserrat, I've co-directed the long-term, multi-period Survey and Landscape Archaeology on Montserrat project since 2010.

I am also a lead research partner on a new project,  "Enduring Materialities of Colonialism (EMoC)" on St. Croix (USVI), that will run from 2020-2024 in partnership with the US National Parks Service, Aarhus University (Denmark), and the National Museum of Denmark under the leadership of Dr. L. McAtackney (funded by the Independent Research Fund, Denmark). 

When I'm not in the field, I am involved in interdisciplinary spatial digital humanities research projects at Wayne State, materials science-based research on archaeological materials in the laboratory, various historic preservation campaigns, and public archaeology / heritage-based initiatives that involve Wayne State students and community partners. 

I am currently serving my first terms on Wayne State's Academic Senate and Michigan's State Historic Preservation Review Board. I am also fortunate to serve on the Board of Directors of Preservation Detroit. 

When I'm not on campus, I enjoy spending time with my energetic family, reading, cycling, hiking, and RBBs. 



  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Archaeology & Engineering, Brown University, 2008-11
  • Ph.D, Anthropology, Brown University, 2008
  • M.Phil, Archaeology, University of Cambridge, 2003
  • B.A., Archaeology, Boston University, 2001

Awards and grants

  • Grants: National Endowment for the Humanities, National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, American Association for University Women, the Department of Energy and others.

  • Career Development Chair, 2019-2020

    The Explorers Club, Fellow National, 2018

    John L. Cotter Award, Society for Historical Archaeology, 2017

    Junior Faculty Award, Wayne State University Academy of Scholars, 2016-17

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Teaching Award, 2016

Selected publications

The Archaeological History of Montserrat, West Indies. (book co-authored with John F. Cherry), Oxbow, Oxford. forthcoming, January 2020.

Detroit 139: Archaeology and the Future-Making of a Post-Industrial City, Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 6(1), 2019. 

Contemporary Archaeology and the City: Creativity, Ruination, and Political Action. (book edited with L. McAtackney), Oxford University Press, 2017.

Archaeological assessment reveals Earth's early transformation through land use. Lucas Stephens, et al. (K. Ryzewski), Science, 365(6456): 897-902, August 2019.

For a complete list of publications see:

Currently teaching

  • ANT6570 - Archaeological Laboratory Methods (Fall 2019)

Courses taught

ANT5280 - Archaeological Field Methods (Fieldwork in the Americas) 

ANT3200 - Lost Cities and Ancient Civilizations (Gen Ed)

ANT5270 - Archaeological Concepts and Techniques

ANT5500 - Historical Archaeology

ANT5560 - Urban Archaeology

ANT6570 - Archaeological Laboratory Methods

ANT3020 - Introduction to Archaeology

ANT5515 - Archaeology of the Atlantic World

Citation index