Art Joyce Headshot
(Ph.D. • Rutgers University • 1991)

HALE 160

M 3:00-4:00
W 1:00-3:00
& by appt.

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.

Selected Publications:

  • Joyce, A. A. 2008. Domination, Negotiation, and Collapse: A History of Centralized Authority on the Oaxaca Coast. In Changing Cloud Formations: Late Classic/Postclassic Sociopolitical Transformations in Oaxaca, J. Blomster (ed.), pp. 219-254. Boulder: University of Colorado Press. PDF
  • ​Barber, S. B. and A. A. Joyce. 2007. Polity produced and community consumed: Negotiating political centralization in the Lower Rio Verde Valley, Oaxaca. In Mesoamerican Ritual Economy, E. C. Wells and K. L. Davis-Salazar (eds.), pp. 221-244. Boulder: University of Colorado Press. PDF
  • Joyce, A. A. 2004. Sacred space and social relations in the Valley of Oaxaca. In Mesoamerican Archaeology. J. Hendon and R. Joyce (eds.), pp. 192-216. Oxford: Blackwell. PDF
  • Joyce, A. A. 2003. Imperialism in Pre-Aztec Mesoamerica: Monte Albán, Teotihuacan, and the lower Río Verde Valley. In Ancient Mesoamerica Warfare, M. K. Brown and T. M. Stanton (eds.), pp. 49-72. Walnut Creek, CA: Alta Mira Press. PDF
  • Joyce, A. A. 2000. The founding of Monte Albán: Sacred propositions and social practices. In Agency in Archaeology, M. Dobres and J. Robb (eds.), pp. 71-91. London: Routledge Press. PDF
  • Goman, M., A. A. Joyce and R. G. Mueller. 2005. Stratigraphic evidence for anthropogenically induced coastal environmental change from Oaxaca, Mexico. Quaternary Research 63:250-260. PDF
  • Joyce, A. A., A. Workinger, B. Hamann, P. Kroefges, M. Oland, and S. King. 2004. Lord 8 Deer “Jaguar Claw” and the Land of the Sky: The archaeology and history of Tututepec. Latin American Antiquity 15(3):273-297. PDF
  • Joyce, A. A., L. Arnaud Bustamante, and M. N. Levine. 2001. Commoner power: A case study from the Classic Period collapse on the Oaxaca coast. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 8(4):343-385. PDF
  • Urcid, J. and A. A. Joyce. 2001. Carved monuments and calendrical names: The rulers of Río Viejo, Oaxaca. Ancient Mesoamerica 12(2):199-216. PDF
  • Joyce, A. A. and R. G. Mueller. 1997. Prehispanic human ecology of the Río Verde drainage basin. World Archaeology 29(1):75-94. PDF

Graduate Studies Information

Research Focus

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.