IMS Associates

Archaeology Students

Rebecca Mendelsohn




BA Dickinson College, Archaeology and Art History, 2008
MA University at Albany, SUNY, Anthropology, 2011

Current research:

Rebecca Mendelsohn is a Ph.D. candidate with an emphasis in Mesoamerican archaeology. She is currently a Junior Fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies at Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, DC (2015-2016). Since 2006, Rebecca has conducted archaeological fieldwork in Greece, Cyprus, Belize, Costa Rica, and Mexico. She is currently the Director of the Izapa Household Archaeology Project in Chiapas, Mexico. Her dissertation, titled “The Preclassic to Classic Period Transition at the Early Mesoamerican City of Izapa” combines economic data recovered from excavations at Izapa’s southern periphery with religious and environmental data to explain why Izapa survived at a time when many early cities struggled or collapsed. Her investigations with artifacts and construction activity in Izapa’s southern periphery counter previous reports that Izapa was abandoned or conquered during the period from 150-50 BC. Instead, she argues that Izapa’s location along a central trade corridor, its role as an important religious center, and its shifting alliances with neighboring urban centers, all contributed to its success.

Rebecca’s research has been supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship and Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (#BCS-1349916), a Fulbright-García Robles grant (Mexico), a Karen R. Hitchcock New Frontiers Award from the University at Albany’s Initiatives for Women, and by a First Encounters award and Christopher DeCormier Scholarship from the University at Albany’s Institute for Mesoamerican Studies. She has presented her research at academic conferences in the United States and Guatemala. Her work with the Izapa Household Archaeology Project has also been covered by media outlets in Mexico and the US, including for the news report “Beyond the Temples” in the May 16th, 2014 issue of Science.

In addition to her work at Izapa, Rebecca has developed three methodological specializations with the analysis of ancient plant remains (paleoethnobotany), sourcing of obsidian, and the construction of 3D models using digital photography and 3D scanners. The first four months of her Fulbright project involved training in starch grain and macrobotanical analyses using samples from Izapa. She undertook this research in collaboration with Guillermo Acosta Ochoa and Emily McClung de Tapia of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Her work using portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) was conducted at the New York State Museum. Rebecca was also trained in 3D scanning and close-range photogrammetry at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute.

You can download Rebecca's CV here.