MAJOR RESEARCH AND TEACHING INTERESTS:
· Aztec society and economy (archaeology, ethnohistory, and their correlation)
· Mesoamerican prehistory (specialist in central Mexican state-level cultures)
· The comparative analysis of ancient states (urbanism, social classes, peasants, commerce, imperialism, and intensive agriculture)
· Archaeological method and theory (research design, household archaeology, chronology, ceramics, material correlates)
· Professional issues (archaeological publishing, open access)
1: Photo by Mark Schmidt (University at Albany)
2: Aztec peasant houses I excavated at Capilco
3: Exploring Arizona archaeology
4: The undergraduate archaeologist at Tula
DESCRIPTION OF RESEARCH:
My field of study is Mesoamerican archaeology, and I have comparative interests in the socio-economic organization of all ancient civilizations, including such topics as urbanization, social stratification, household organization, imperialism, trade and agriculture. Most of my field research has concentrated on the Aztecs and other central Mexican societies. I have directed excavations at rural Aztec sites in Morelos and the Toluca Valley and I have carried out ethnohistorical research on provincial society and Aztec imperialism. My current project addresses issues of urbanization and imperialism at the Aztec-period city of Calixtlahuaca in the Toluca Valley of central Mexico. I am also engaged in comparative research on early urbanism, particularly the forms of ancient cities, urban planning, and life in cities. My research is supported by a variety of sources, particularly the National Science Foundation and Arizona State University. I am also concerned with archaeological method and theory (e.g., research design, chronology, archaeological/ethnohistorical correlation, and the relationship between material culture and society) and professional issues such as publishing in archaeology and open access to published research. I teach graduate and undergraduate courses on archaeological method and theory, Mesoamerican archaeology, and comparative ancient cities and civilizations.
PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES :
I serve on the editorial boards of several journals and I was Book Review Editor for Latin American Antiquity for several years. In a moment of weakness, I let Dean Snow persuade me to take on the task of Program Chair for the 2009 Annual Meetings of the Society for American Archaeology. I have served on a vareity of professional boards and panels in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. I have worked as a consultant to the National Geographic Society, the U.S. Library of Congress, and numerous publishers of textbooks and children's books. In 2007 my article on ancient urban planning was awarded the The Catherine Bauer Wurster Prize for the “Best Scholarly Article on American Planning History” by the Society for American City and Regional Planning History. I write a couple of blogs on archaeology.
I was born at the Subic Bay U.S. Naval Base in the Philippine Islands and grew up in Larchmont, New York. I attended Mamaroneck High School. At Brandeis University (BA) I became interested in Mesoamerican archaeology, and then I received my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1983. I have participated in archaeological fieldwork in the United States, Honduras, and Mexico. For the past 25 years, my work has focused on Aztec sites, where I am frequently joined by my wife Cynthia Heath-Smith, also an archaeologist. Our daughters, April and Heather, spent much time in Mexico as kids, going to school and helping on our projects. My hobbies include music, family history, and exploring Arizona.