Colin D. Wren, Ph.D.

Colin Wren standing above Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Colin D. Wren, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
CENT 114


Colin D. Wren is an archaeologist who joined the Department of Anthropology at UCCS in 2015. His training has included a mix of recent northeastern North America (sub-arctic Quebec, 400-4500 years ago) and much older African and Western European archaeology (up to 1.8 million years ago). He has published on various case studies examining the interactions between human society and the environments at local and much broader continental scales. Dr. Wren is interested in reconstructing past mobility behavior, the evolution of complex cognition, human-environment interactions, agent-based modeling, GIS-based landscape archaeology, and more specifically, the role of human perception of the environment in mobility and dispersal. Dr. Wren's on-going projects include models of South African foraging behavior during periods relevant to the evolution of Homo sapiens and the impacts of climatic variability during the Last Glacial Maximum (ca. 20 thousand years ago) on foraging behavior in Western Europe. He also published a textbook designed to teach computational simulation to archaeologists titled, Agent-based modeling: Simulating the Complexity of Societies


  • Postdoc, Institute of Human Origins, Arizona State University
  • PhD, Archaeology, McGill University
  • MSc, GIS and Spatial Analysis in Archaeology, University College London
  • BA, Anthropology, McGill University

Select Publications

  • Romanowska, I., Wren, C.D., Crabtree, S.A., 2021. Agent-based modeling for archaeology: simulating the complexity of societies. SFI Press, Santa Fe. (doi)
  • Burke, A., Peros, M.C., Wren, C.D., Pausata, F.S.R., Riel-Salvatore, J., Moine, O., de Vernal, A., Kageyama, M., Boisard*, S., 2021. The archaeology of climate change: The case for cultural diversity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 118, e2108537118. (doi
  • Gravel-Miguel, C., Murray, J.K., Schoville, B.J., Wren, C.D., Marean, C.W., 2021. Exploring variability in lithic armature discard in the archaeological record. Journal of Human Evolution 155, 102981. (doi)
  • Wren, C.D., Botha, S., De Vynck, J.C., Janssen, M.A., Hill, K., Shook, E., Harris, J., Wood, B.M., Venter, J., Franklin, J., Cowling, R.M., Potts, A.J., Fisher, E.C., Marean, C.W., 2020. The foraging potential of the Holocene Cape South Coast of South Africa without the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain. Quaternary Science Reviews 235, 105789. (doi)
  • Wren, C.D., Costopoulos, A., Hawley, M., 2020. Settlement Choice under conditions of rapid shoreline displacement in Wemindji Cree Territory, subarctic Quebec. Quaternary International. (doi)
  • Wren, C.D., Burke, A., 2019. Habitat suitability and the genetic structure of human populations during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in Western Europe. PLOS ONE 14, e0217996. (doi)
  • Gravel-Miguel, C., Wren, C.D., 2018. Agent-based least-cost path analysis and the diffusion of Cantabrian Lower Magdalenian engraved scapulae. Journal of Archaeological Science 99: 1-9. (doi)
  • Wren, C.D., Costopoulos, A., 2015. Does Environmental Knowledge Inhibit Hominin Dispersal? Human Biology 87, 205-223.
  • Shook, E., C.D. Wren, C.W. Marean, A.J. Potts, J. Franklin, F. Engelbrecht, D. O’Neal, et al. 2015. “Paleoscape Model of Coastal South Africa During Modern Human Origins: Progress in Scaling and Coupling Climate, Vegetation, and Agent-Based Models on XSEDE.” In Proceedings of the 2015 Annual Conference on Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment. New York, NY: ACM International Conference Proceeding Series.
  • Wren, C.D., J. Z. Xue., A. Costopoulos, & A. Burke. 2014. The role of spatial foresight on models of hominin dispersal. Journal of Human Evolution 69:70-78. Costopoulos, A., S. Vaneeckhout, J. Okkonen, E. Hulse, I. Paberzyte, and C.D. Wren. 2012. Social complexity in the mid-Holocene northeastern Bothnian Gulf. European Journal of Archaeology 15(1): 41-60.
  • Ames, C., A. Costopoulos, C. D. Wren. 2010. 8,000 Years of Technological Change in the Gulf of Georgia: Is There a Major Transition at 4850 cal B.P.? Canadian Journal of Archaeology 34(1): 32-63.