Timothy J. Scarlett

Timothy J. Scarlett
"Whereas innovation, in the backwards reading of creativity, lies outside of time, improvisation, in a forward reading, is inherently temporal."
—Elizabeth Hallam and Tim Ingold (2007) Creativity and Cultural Improvisation. Berg, New York.


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  • Associate Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • PhD, University of Nevada, 2002
  • MA, Boston University, 1994
  • BA, University of Arizona, 1991


Timothy James Scarlett grew up in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania. After working on his first dig as a 17-year-old high school student,  Tim dedicated his life to the archaeological study of American history. After taking degrees in anthropology and/or archaeology from the University of Arizona (BA, 1991), Boston University (MA, 1994), and the University of Nevada (Ph.D., 2002), he joined the faculty in the Industrial Heritage and Archaeology Program in the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University. He is now an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology, active in the Industrial Heritage and Archaeology's interdisciplinary community of practice.

Dr. Scarlett is deeply committed to a dramatically interdisciplinary, public archaeology. In his personal research, he examines how individuals creatively solved problems at work as they adapted to new physical landscapes and social environments. He uses diverse methods in his studies, employing techniques from chemistry and physics to theology and art history. Besides fieldwork, Dr. Scarlett relies upon experimental and experiential discovery in his scholarship. Eclectic organizations have supported his research and public programming, ranging from the National Science Foundation, The National Park Service, the Utah Humanities Council ,the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission, Utah State Parks, and Earthwatch. Besides Michigan's Copper Country, he has conducted research at sites in the Great Basin and Intermountain West, Southwest, Interior Alaska, Great Lakes, New England, and the Mid-Atlantic regions of North America.

Dr. Scarlett began teaching in 1992 and has been recognized for excellence by several institutions. His early experiences, as an educational docent for the Arizona State Museum and as a teacher for the John’s Hopkins University Center for Academically Talented Youth, provided him with educational training unusual for a University professor.

Dr. Scarlett is committed to collaborative and inclusive public archaeology. He has worked to develop several best-practice models for archaeological fieldwork that integrate field and lab research with community-based collaboration, education, heritage tourism, and traditional and new media documentary production.

Tim and his wife, Sarah Fayen Scarlett, live with their sons in beautiful Houghton, Michigan, amid the historic copper-mining districts of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Research Interests

  • Historical and Industrial Archaeologies
  • Ecobiography, Creativity and Work
  • Ceramic Petrology, Neutron Activation Analysis
  • Community-based scholarship, public science/humanities
  • Archaeometric and Conservation Sciences