Maureece Levin is an archaeologist and paleoethnobotanist with interests in prehistoric and historic food production systems, historical ecology, and social change. Her research methods focus on phytolith and plant macroremain analysis, especially concerning the application of phytoliths to interpretation of the archaeological record. She completed her PhD in Anthropology at the University of Oregon in 2015. In her dissertation, entitled “Food Production, Environment, and Culture in the Tropical Pacific: Evidence for Prehistoric and Historic Plant Cultivation in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia,” she uses archaeological landscape survey, along with ancient and modern botanical data, to examine managed agroforests in the Pacific. At the Stanford Archaeology Center, she is working primarily on projects in China and in Micronesia, while continuing to use phytolith, plant macroremain, and starch analysis to study ancient plant cultivation systems.

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oregon (2015)
  • Bachelor of Arts, Whitman College (2003)

Stanford Advisors

  • Li Liu, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor

2018-19 Courses

All Publications

  • The origins of specialized pottery and diverse alcohol fermentation techniques in Early Neolithic China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Liu, L., Wang, J., Levin, M. J., Sinnott-Armstrong, N., Zhao, H., Zhao, Y., Shao, J., Di, N., Zhang, T. 2019


    In China, pottery containers first appeared about 20000 cal. BP, and became diverse in form during the Early Neolithic (9000-7000 cal. BP), signaling the emergence of functionally specialized vessels. China is also well-known for its early development of alcohol production. However, few studies have focused on the connections between the two technologies. Based on the analysis of residues (starch, phytolith, and fungus) adhering to pottery from two Early Neolithic sites in north China, here we demonstrate that three material changes occurring in the Early Neolithic signal innovation of specialized alcoholic making known in north China: (i) the spread of cereal domestication (millet and rice), (ii) the emergence of dedicated pottery types, particularly globular jars as liquid storage vessels, and (iii) the development of cereal-based alcohol production with at least two fermentation methods: the use of cereal malts and the use of moldy grain and herbs (qu and caoqu) as starters. The latter method was arguably a unique invention initiated in China, and our findings account for the earliest known examples of this technique. The major ingredients include broomcorn millet, Triticeae grasses, Job's tears, rice, beans, snake gourd root, ginger, possible yam and lily, and other plants, some probably with medicinal properties (e.g., ginger). Alcoholic beverages made with these methods were named li, jiu, and chang in ancient texts, first recorded in the Shang oracle-bone inscriptions (ca. 3200 cal. BP); our findings have revealed a much deeper history of these diverse fermentation technologies in China.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1902668116

    View details for PubMedID 31160461

  • Harvesting and processing wild cereals in the Upper Palaeolithic Yellow River Valley, China ANTIQUITY Liu, L., Levin, M. J., Bonomo, M. F., Wang, J., Shi, J., Chen, X., Han, J., Song, Y. 2018; 92 (363): 603–19
  • Tangatatau Rockshelter: The Evolution of an Eastern Polynesian Socio-Ecosystem (Book Review) ETHNOBIOLOGY LETTERS Book Review Authored by: Levin, M. J. 2018; 9 (2): 243–44
  • Breadfruit Fermentation in Pohnpei, Micronesia: Site Formation, Archaeological Visibility, and Interpretive Strategies JOURNAL OF ISLAND & COASTAL ARCHAEOLOGY Levin, M. J. 2018; 13 (1): 109–31
  • Managed agroforests, swiddening, and the introduction of pigs in Pohnpei, Micronesia: Phytolith evidence from an anthropogenic landscape QUATERNARY INTERNATIONAL Levin, M. J., Ayres, W. S. 2017; 434: 70-77
  • Of Trowels and Temples. A Review of Three Stones Make a Wall by Eric H. Cline. Levin, M. Open Letters Monthly. 2017
  • Usewear and residue analyses of experimental harvesting stone tools for archaeological research Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports Liu, L., Wang, J., Levin, M. J. 2017; 14: 439-453
  • Swiddening Practices in the Micronesian Past: Macrocharcoal Quantification from a Gardening Site in Pohnpei Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology Levin, M. J., Shelton, M., Ayres, W. S. 2017
  • Roasting breadfruit in the Pacific: A combined plant macroremain and phytolith analysis from Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia ARCHAEOLOGY IN OCEANIA Levin, M. J. 2016; 51 (1): 70-76

    View details for DOI 10.1002/arco.5081

    View details for Web of Science ID 000377105500007

  • Pohnpeian and Pingelapese Food Production in the Archaeological Record: A Pilot Project Levin, M. J. Report Submitted to Historic Preservation Office, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.. 2016
  • Archaeological Survey, Architectural Studies and Agricultural Analysis, Nan Madol and Temwen, Pohnpei Ayres, W. S., Levin, M., Seikel, K. Pacific Islands Archaeological Laboratory, University of Oregon. Submitted to Historic Preservation Office, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.. 2015
  • Archaeological Remains at Angier-Karian, Nan Madol, With Supplemental Studies at Sokehs and Temwen, Pohnpei, FSM Ayres, W. S., Seikel, K., Levin, M. Pacific Islands Archaeological Laboratory, University of Oregon. Submitted to Historic Preservation Office, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. . 2009