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My research and teaching focus on the pre-Columbian peoples of Mesoamerica particularly surrounding issues of power, political dynamics, and landscape. Since 1986, I have conducted interdisciplinary archaeological and paleoenvironmental research in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. I use poststructural theories of practice and power to examine sociopolitical change in ancient Oaxaca. I also investigate the 4000 year history of human impact on the environment along the Río Verde drainage basin of Oaxaca. My field research includes archaeological excavation and survey in the lower Río Verde Valley along the Pacific coast as well as geological and paleoecological research along the entire drainage basin. I teach undergraduate courses on ancient civilizations, the archaeology of Mexico, environmental archaeology along with graduate seminars on archaeological method and theory, social theory in archaeology, and materiality.
Graduate Studies Information
Arthur Joyce’s research focuses on two interrelated issues:
- the origins, development, and collapse of complex societies and
- the archaeology of landscape and space.
Areas of Research
Current Projects - Río Verde Archaeology
Río Verde drainage basin in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. The research consists of three distinct projects, although with overlapping problems, participants, and sources of funding: (1) The Río Verde Archaeological Project; (2) The Río Verde Human Ecology Project; and (3) The Religion and Politics in Formative Period Mesoamerica Project.
Working with Art Joyce
His geographical focus is Mesoamerica, especially the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Joyce directs two interdisciplinary archaeological projects in Oaxaca: A regional project in the lower Río Verde Valley that examines the history of complex societies from ca. 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1522 and an interdisciplinary project investigating the history of human impact on the environment along the Río Verde drainage system. He draws on theoretical and methodological inspirations ranging from the social sciences and humanities to the natural sciences. An important component of Joyce’s research is the training of graduate students who collaborate with him on field projects and carry out independent research in Oaxaca. His MA and Ph.D. students have carried out research involving excavations of residences and public buildings, geoarchaeological studies of agricultural terraces, archaeological survey, and laboratory studies of ceramics, figurines, and lithics. His two most recent Ph.D. students have gone on to tenure track positions at research universities.
More about Professor Joyce
Joyce’s research on complex societies uses theories of practice, power, ideology, and materiality to consider how social relations within societies as well as external factors like interregional interaction and ecology drive social changes such as political centralization and societal collapse. His research on ancient landscapes uses both ecological and cultural theoretical approaches.