Carolyn Dillian image

Carolyn Dillian

Professor, Anthropology and Geography

Phone: 843-349-2777 Email: Office Hours:


Carolyn Dillian joined Coastal Carolina University in 2010 as an archaeologist specializing in prehistoric technology. She has conducted archaeological excavations throughout the U.S and in Kenya. In South Carolina, her ongoing field research at the Anne Tilghman Boyce Coastal Reserve focuses on the ways in which environmental changes approximately 5,000 years ago, such as sea level rise, contributed to new subsistence patterns in which people relied heavily on shellfish as part of seasonal hunting and gathering. These changes also affected the development of trade and exchange, cultural complexity, and mobility. Students can participate in these excavations by enrolling in the Prehistoric Archaeological Field School (ANTH 395), and the project provides research opportunities for students in Anthropology, Geography, and Marine Science.

In Kenya, Dr. Dillian works with the Koobi Fora Field School to excavate prehistoric sites along Lake Turkana that yield evidence of early hunter-fisher-gatherer populations and the beginnings of animal domestication. Students may join this project through application only; see Dr. Dillian for more information.

Dr. Dillian is a member of the Register of Professional Archaeologists.


Ph.D., Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
M.S., Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
B.A., Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

Interesting Facts

One of her hobbies is flintknapping (making stone tools) as a way to better understand prehistoric technology. Students in her upper-level Advanced Archaeological Methods (ANTH 410) course learn how to make stone tools and other prehistoric objects to improve their analysis of archaeological artifacts.

Teaching Areas

Prehistory, Human Evolution, North America, Africa, Archaeological Methods, Cultural Resource Management. 

Research Areas

North American prehistory, hunter-gatherers in East Africa, geochemical characterization of archaeological materials, trade and exchange. 


The inside scoop…..

“The classes offered by Dr. Dillian set me up with a realistic expectation of the job field post graduation. She was able to provide life experiences and applications beyond what text could offer. In addition, even as an alumni, I still contact Dr. Dillian for advice and she's an awesome reference on my CV.” 

-- Former Student Emilie Skartvedt, ’17, Field Technician, Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research