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

HALE 160


Office Hours
M: 3:20-5:00pm; W: 12:15-1:30pm

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:


  • Lohse, J. C., A. Borejsza, and A. A. Joyce (editors). 2021. Preceramic Mesoamerica. Routledge Press, London and New York.
  • Barber, S. B. and A. A. Joyce (editors). 2018. Religion and Politics in the Ancient Americas. Routledge, London and New York.
  • Joyce, A. A. and J. Forde. 2014. El Pueblo de la Tierra del Cielo: Arqueología de la Mixteca de la Costa. Centro INAH Oaxaca, Mexico.
  • Joyce, A. A. (editor). 2013. Polity and Ecology in Formative Period Coastal Oaxaca. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.
  • Joyce, A. A. 2010.  Mixtecs, Zapotecs, and Chatinos: Ancient Peoples of Southern Mexico. Wiley-Blackwell Press, Malden, MA.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • Joyce, A. A. 2021a. Monte Albán and Early Urbanization in the Valley of Oaxaca: Maize, Mountains, and Monuments. In Mesoamerican Archaeology: Theory and Practice, Second Edition. Edited by Julia A Hendon, Lisa Overholtzer, and Rosemary A. Joyce, pp. 203-228. Blackwell Studies in Global Archaeology. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden.
  • Joyce, A. A. 2021b. Preceramic Archaeology in Mesoamerica: Recent Developments and Future Directions. In Preceramic Mesoamerica, edited by J. C. Lohse, A. Borejsza, and A. A. Joyce, pp. 536-559. Routledge Press, London and New York.
  • Joyce, A. A. 2020a. Mapping Agricultural Assemblages in Ancient Oaxaca from the Domestication of Maize to the Collapse of Monte Albán. World Archaeology 52(3): 53-375. PDF
  • Joyce, A. A. 2020b. Assembling the City: Monte Albán as a Mountain of Creation and Sustenance. In New Materialisms Ancient Urbanisms, edited by Susan M. Alt and Timothy R. Pauketat, pp. 65-93. Routledge, New York and London.
  • Joyce, A. A. 2020c. Animating Public Buildings in Formative-Period Oaxaca: Political and Ontological Implications. In Sacred Matter: Animism and Authority in Pre- Columbian America, edited by S. Kosiba, J. W. Janusek, and T. Cummins, pp. 327-356. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC. PDF
  • Joyce, A. A. 2018. New Directions in the Archaeology of Religion and Politics in the Americas. In Religion and Politics in the Ancient Americas, edited by S. B. Barber and A. A. Joyce, pp. 1-26. Routledge, London and New York.
  • Goman, M., A. Joyce, S. Lund, C. Pearson, W. Guerra, D. Dale, D. E. Hammond, and A. J. Celestian. 2018. Preliminary Results from Laguna Minucúa a Potentially Annually Resolved Record of Climate and Environmental Change for the Past ~5000 years in the Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca, Mexico. Quaternary International 469:85-95. PDF
  • Borejsza, A. and A. A. Joyce. 2017. Convergence and Divergence as Problems of Explanation in Land Use Histories. In The Archaeology of Human-Environment  Interactions, edited by D. A. Contreras, pp. 25-57. Routledge, New York and London.
  • Joyce, A.A., S.B. Barber, J. Brzezinski, C.J. Lucido, and V. Salazar Chávez. 2016. Negotiating Political Authority and Community in Terminal Formative Coastal Oaxaca. In Political Strategies in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, edited by Sarah Kurnick and Joanne Baron, pp. 61-96. University Press of Colorado, Boulder. PDF
  • Joyce, A. A. and S. B. Barber. 2015. Ensoulment, Entrapment, and PoliticalCentralization: A Comparative Study of Religion and Politics in Later Formative Oaxaca. Current Anthropology 56(6):819-847. PDF
  • Joyce, A. A., M. N. Levine, S. M. King, J. Hedgepeth Balkin, and S. B. Barber. 2014. Political Transformations and the Everyday in Postclassic Oaxaca. Ancient Mesoamerica 25(2):389-410. PDF
  • Joyce, A. A. and M. Goman. 2012. Bridging the Theoretical Divide in Holocene Landscape Studies: Social and Ecological Approaches to Ancient Oaxacan Landscapes. Quaternary Science Reviews 55:1-22. PDF
  • Mueller, R. G., A. A. Joyce, and A. Borejsza. 2012. Alluvial Archives of the Nochixtlán Valley, Oaxaca, Mexico: Age and Significance for Reconstructions of Environmental Change. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 321–322 (2012): 121–136. PDF
  • 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.

*Professor Joyce is not currently accepting Ph.D. applicants​ for Fall 2024