Award Details


Book Award (Scholarly and Popular)

Nomination/Submission Deadline: 15 Nov 2023

Award Description

The SAA annually awards two prizes to honor recently published books. One prize is for a book that has had, or is expected to have, a major impact on the direction and character of archaeological research. The other prize is for a book that is written for the general public and presents the results of archaeological research to a broader audience. Books published in 2021 or more recently are eligible.

Who Is Eligible to Submit Nominations or Apply for the Award

The Book Award committee solicits nominations for these prizes from publishers. Books or edited volumes published in 2021 or more recently are eligible. In the Scholarly Book Award category, the first author must be a member of the SAA, and all authors receive the award. It is the publisher's duty to confirm that the first author/editor is an active SAA member. In the Popular Book Award category, author(s) do not need to be active members of the SAA and all authors receive the award.

Nomination/Submission Materials Required

A book will be evaluated in the format for which it was designed.  For a print book, one hard copy and a PDF of the nominated book must be sent to each member of the committee. If the only format for the book is electronic, a link to the digital copy in the format or on the platform for which it was designed and a PDF must be sent to each member. Please contact the chair of the committee for an updated list of committee members. The chair’s email can be found below in the Committee Information section.

Other Special Requirements

Nominators must arrange to have one hard copy and a PDF of the nominated book to each member of the committee for those books that are printed. For electronic-only books, nominators must arrange to send a link to the digital copy and a PDF to each member. For the Scholarly Award, publishers must ensure that the first author/editor is an active SAA member before submitting the nominated book. Please check with your authors to verify their membership.

Prior to any award recommendation being finalized and publicly announced, anyone recommended for an award, scholarship, or grant will be required to certify the following:

(a)  I am not and have not ever been the subject of a discrimination or harassment lawsuit or related administrative complaint that resulted in an adverse finding; and

(b)  I do not have and have not had a current or pending disciplinary action such as suspension or termination of registration, resulting from a Register of Professional Archaeologists’ grievance investigation.

Nature of Award (e.g. monetary, medal, symposium)

The awardee is recognized by the SAA through a plaque presented during the business meeting held at the Annual Meeting, a citation in The SAA Archaeological Record, and acknowledgment on the awards page of the SAA Website.

Current Committee Charge

The committee solicits nominations (popular, and scholarly) and selects recipients for the Book Award. The SAA may award two prizes to honor recently (within the past three years) published books. One prize is for a book that has had, or is expected to have, a major impact on the direction and character of archaeological research. The other prize is for a book that is written for the general public and presents the results of archaeological research to a broader audience.

Committee Composition

Committee composition is one chair and at least six members.

Term Length

Term length is three years. Individuals ending their terms cycle off the committee at the close of the Business Meeting held during the annual SAA Meeting, and new appointees begin their terms at this time.

Award Cycle


Committee Chair and End of Term

Karen Harry [2025]

Committee Chair Contact Information

Committee Members and Ends of Terms

Selection or Evaluation Criteria

The following are among the criteria to be used for evaluating books for the SAA book awards:

  • adheres to principles of archaeological ethics upheld by the Society for American Archaeology 
  • excellence in content, writing, organization, and presentation
  • excellence in research
  • originality, as representing a positive example for the discipline
  • clarity of argument
  • expected positive impact on archaeological research
  • clear and engaging writing style
  • presentation, especially visual

Committee Deliberation Process (e.g. dates, venue)

The Book Award Committee adheres to the following deadlines:

  • September 15: Nomination announcement sent to publishers
  • November 15: Deadline for receiving hard copies and PDFs of books. Each nominated book is read and evaluated by at least two committee members during the first round of evaluations
  • December 15: Deadline for committee members to submit a short list of top five selections in each category. The four or five books in each category with the highest combined scores advance to the final round
  • January 15: The top picks are reviewed in detail and the committee votes to select the winners
  • January 27: Committee submits award winners to the SAA Board
2024ScholarlyKristian Kristiansen, Guus Kroonen, and Eske Willersleve (editors)The Indo-European Puzzle Revisited: Integrating Archaeology, Genetics, and Linguistics

Yonatan Adler

The Origins of Judaism: An Archaeological-Historical Reappraisal
2023ScholarlyFrances M. Hayashida, Andrés , Diego Salazar (editors)Rethinking the Inka: Community, Landscape, and Empire in the Southern Andes
PopularNan A. Rothschild, Amanda Sutphin, H. Arthur Bankoff, Jessica Striebel MacleanBuried Beneath the City: An Archaeological History of New York
2022ScholarlyWesley Bernardini, Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa, Gregson Schachner, and Leigh J. KuwanwisiwmaBecoming Hopi: A History
 PopularRuth M. Van Dyke & Carrie Heitman
The Greater Chaco Landscape: Ancestors, Scholarship, and Advocacy

D. Rae Gould,
Holly Herbster,
Heather Law Pezzarossi, and Stephen A. Mrozowski

Historical Archaeology and Indigenous Collaboration: Discovering Histories that Have Futures
 PopularMark D. McCoy
Maps for Time Travelers: How Archaeologists Use Technology to Bring Us Closer
Christine A. Hastorf
The Social Archaeology of Food: Thinking about Eating from Prehistory to the Present
 PopularCarl M. DavisSix Hundred Generations: An Archaeological History of Montana
2019ScholarlyKrish Seetah
Connecting Continents: Archaeology and History in the Indian Ocean World
 PopularLynn MeskellA Future in Ruins: UNESCO, World Heritage, and the Dream of Peace
2018ScholarlyTom DillehayWhere the Land Meets the Sea
 PopularPeter BoguckiThe Barbarians: Lost Civilizations
2017ScholarlyCarolyn E. BoydThe White Shaman Mural: An Enduring Creation Narrative in Rock Art of the Lower Pecos
 Scholarly (Honorable Mention)
Enrique Rodriguez-AlegríaThe Archaeology and History of Colonial Mexico: Mixing Epistemologies
 PopularMichael E. SmithAt Home with the Aztecs: An Archaeologist Uncovers Their Daily Life
2016ScholarlyRobert L. BettingerOrderly Anarchy: Sociopolitical Evolution in Aboriginal California
 PopularMiranda Aldhouse-GreenBog Bodies Uncovered: Solving Europe's Ancient Mystery
2015ScholarlySteven A. WernkeNegotiated Settlements: Andean Communities and Landscapes under Inka and Spanish Colonialism
 PopularDimitra Papagianni and Michael A. MorseThe Neanderthals Rediscovered: How Modern Science is Rewriting their Story
2014ScholarlyMichael L. Galaty, Ols Lafe, Wayne E. Lee, and Zamir TafilicaLight and Shadow: Isolation and Interaction in the Shala Valley of Northern Albania
 PopularJerry D. MooreThe Prehistory of Home
2013ScholarlyElizabeth ArkushHillforts of the Ancient Andes: Colla Warfare, Society and Landscape
 PopularPatrick KirchA Shark Going Inland is My Chief. The Island Civilization of Ancient Hawai’i
2012ScholarlyMatthew R. Des Laurierssland of Fogs: Archaeological and Ethnohistorical investigations of Isla Cedros, Baja California
 PopularTerry Hunt and Carl LipoStatues that Walked
2011 Vernon James Knight, Jr.Mound Excavations at Moundville: Architecture, Elites, and Social Order
  Steven R. SimmsTraces of Fremont: Society and Rock Art in Ancient Utah
David W. AnthonyThe Horse, the Wheel and Language
  Rebecca YaminDigging in the City of Brotherly Love
2009 Lothar von FalkenhausenChinese Society in the Age of Confucius (1000-250 BC): The Archaeological Evidence
  Jack BrinkImagining Head-Smashed-In
2008 Tom D. DillehayMonuments, Empires and Resistance
  James W. BradleyBefore Albany
2007 Kristian Kristiansen & Thomas B. LarssonTransformations
  Bradley T. LepperOhio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures
2006 Peter BellwoodFirst Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies
  James E. Bruseth and Toni S. TurnerFrom a Watery Grave: The Discovery and Excavation of
La Salle's Shipwreck, La Belle
2005 Kelley Hays-GilpinAmbiguous Images: Gender and Rock Art
  Susan Toby EvansAncient Mexico and Central America: Archaeology and Culture History
2004 Brian FaganBefore California: An Archaeologist Looks at Our Earliest Inhabitant
  T.J. (Tony) WilkinsonArchaeological Landscapes of the Near East
2003 Kathleen Deagan and José María CruxentArchaeology at La Isabela: America's First European Town and Columbus's Outpost among the Tainos
  Thomas F. King, Randall S. Jacobson, Karen Ramey Burns, and Kenton SpadingAmelia Earhart's Shoes: Is the Mystery Solved?
2002 Lewis R. BinfordConstructing Frames of Reference: An Analytical Method for Archaeological Theory Building Using Ethnographic and Environmental Data Sets
  Ann-Marie Cantwell and Diana Dizerega WallUnearthing Gotham: The Archaeology of New York City
2001 William W. Fitzhugh and Elisabeth I. Ward
Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga
2000 Clive Gamble The Paleolithic Societies of Europe
1999 Jon Muller Mississippian Political Economy
  Mark LehnerThe Complete Pyramids
1998 Tom D. DillehayMonte Verde, A Pleistocene Settlement in Chile
  Stephen PlogAncient Peoples of the American Southwest
1997 Bruce D. SmithThe Emergence of Agriculture
  Carmel SchrireDigging Through Darkness: Chronicles of an Archaeologist
1996 Mary C. StinerHonor among Thieves: A Zooarchaeological Study of Neandertal Ecology