Dr. Jillian Swift

Department of Archaeology

Main Focus

Jillian Swift specializes in zooarchaeology and stable isotope analysis of commensal archaeofauna across the Indo-Pacific. She is interested in tropical island paleoecology, extinctions, and particularly the role of human-transported commensal species in long-term island socio-ecosystem sustainability.  

Curriculum Vitae

Jillian Swift received a BA in Anthropology at New York University. In 2016, she completed her PhD in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, where she applied stable isotope analysis of the commensal Pacific rat (Rattus exulans) as a proxy for paleoenvironmental change in relation to human-centered foodwebs on Polynesian islands. For her postdoctoral research, she will continue to pursue novel applications of stable isotope analysis towards understanding past island environments and human activities. Jillian is expanding the regional scope of her research to explore island socio-ecosystem dynamics across the Indo-Pacific. In the summer of 2016, she supervised archaeological excavations at Makangale Cave (Pango la kijiji Makangale), Pemba Island, Zanzibar. 

Current Projects

Commensal Fauna as a Window into Long-Term Island Socio-Ecosystem Dynamics

Archaeological and Paleoecological Investigations of Makangale Cave, Pemba Island (Zanzibar)

Megafaunal Extinctions in the Tropics

Megafauna and Methods: New Approaches to the Study of Megafaunal Extinctions


Swift, J.A., G. Molle and E. Conte 2017. Coastal subsistence and settlement at the Hane dune site (Ua Huka, Marquesas Islands): New insight from Pacific rat (Rattus exulans) stable isotope analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 15: 161-168. 

Swift, J.A., M.J. Miller and P.V. Kirch 2017. Stable isotope analysis of Pacific rat (Rattus exulans) from archaeological sites in Mangareva (French Polynesia): The use of commensal species for understanding human activity and ecosystem change. Environmental Archaeology 22(3): 283-297.

Kirch, P.V. and J.A. Swift 2017. New AMS radiocarbon dates and a re-evaluation of the cultural sequence of Tikopia Island, Southeast Solomon Islands. Journal of the Polynesian Society 126(3): 313-336. 

Kirch, P.V., G. Molle, C. Nickelsen, P. Mills, E. Dotte-Sarout, J. Swift, A. Wolfe, and M. Horrocks. Human ecodynamics in the Mangareva Islands: A stratified sequence from Nenega-Iti Rockshelter (Site AGA-3, Agakauitai Island). Archaeology in Oceania 50(1):23-42. 

Swift, J.A. 2014. A reexamination of Robert Suggs' Marquesan fishhook collection from Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands. In Society for Hawaiian Archaeology Special Publication 4, Papers in honor of Dr. Yosihiko Sinoto, edited by W. Keala McElroy and E. Komori, pp. 5-16. 

Barnosky, A.D., E.A. Hadly, M. Holmes, R. Kirchholtes, E. Lindsey, K.C. Maguire, A.W. Poust, M.A. Stegner, J. Sunseri, B. Swartz, J. Swift, N.A. Villavicencio, and G.O.U. Wogan 2014. Prelude to the Anthropocene: Two newly-defined North American Land Mammal Ages. Anthropocene Review 1(3): 225-242. 

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