IMS Alumni

Elizabeth Paris



PhD, Anthropology, University at Albany, SUNY, 2012
MA, Anthropology, University at Albany, SUNY, 2006
BA, Anthropology, University of Colorado-Boulder, with distinction, Phi Beta Kappa, 2004

Doctoral Dissertation: 2012  Political Economy on the Postclassic Western Maya Frontier. Department of Anthropology, University at Albany, SUNY.  Winner of the University at Albany Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Award 2011-2012.

Research Interests

Mesoamerican archaeology, political economy, urbanism, archaeometallurgy, lithic analysis, mortuary practices, ceramic analysis, and zooarchaeology.

Current Research

My research investigates the organization of exchange networks from a household perspective in the complex societies of Mesoamerica, focusing on the socioeconomic context of craft production and household wealth. My current projects investigate the introduction and integration of metallurgical production techniques and finished metal objects at Maya sites, and the ways in which metal consumer goods and production techniques were selectively adapted into local economies.  I recently published the results of research on metallurgical ceramics at the Postclassic Maya site of Mayapan, which combines modal analysis, materials science techniques (X-ray Fluorescence and Electron Microprobe analysis), and quantitative methods to examine the influence of interregional exchange networks on raw materials acquisition, the transmission of technical knowledge and skills, and the stylistic choices of producers and consumers (Meanwell et al. 2013). This project was completed in collaboration with colleagues Jennifer Meanwell (MIT), Dorothy Hosler (MIT), Wilberth Cruz Alvarado (UADY), and Carlos Peraza Lope (INAH-Yucatán), and investigates the unique ceramic properties of metallurgical molds recovered from Mayapan, and the types of metallic residues they contain. This project is a continuation of my research on the ways in which finished metal artifacts became incorporated into Maya culture at Mayapan and other Postclassic Maya sites. Results of this earlier project are published in Ancient Mesoamerica, three book chapters (Paris and Peraza 2013 and two forthcoming chapters), three report chapters, and eight conference presentations.
My work on ancient metallurgy complements my research on the organization of exchange networks from a household perspective in the complex societies of Mesoamerica, focusing on the socioeconomic context of craft production and household wealth. As the Principal Investigator and director of the Proyecto Económico de los Altos de Chiapas (Jan.-Sept. 2009) I received an National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant to support field and lab research in the Jovel Valley of highland Chiapas, with Roberto López Bravo (Director, Museo Regional de Chiapas) as co-director. The project provided data for my dissertation, entitled “Political Economy on the Postclassic Western Maya Frontier,” which examines the political economy of the hilltop sites of Moxviquil and Huitepec through a “bottom-up” household archaeology approach. The study presents evidence for ways in which Jovel Valley residents took advantage of long-distance exchange networks to import exotic trade goods from throughout Mesoamerica. Publications based on my findings include two peer-reviewed articles (in revision for resubmission to the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology and an article in Ancient Mesoamerica, in press for Fall 2014), two other articles in preparation, a book chapter and invited conference papers. 
My ongoing research on the social organization of lithic producers in ancient Mesoamerica also examines production techniques and patterns of raw materials acquisition and exchange.  Through the combined use of modal analysis, X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) and advanced quantitative methods, I examine the exploitation of local chert resources in highland Chiapas by household producers, and the local and regional exchange of lithic tools made from these resources. My ongoing research on chert artifacts from San Estevan, Belize (Lithic Technology 2012), obsidian from Tlacuachero, Soconusco (with Barbara Voorhies), obsidian and chert artifacts from Palenque (with Roberto López Bravo), and chert and shell debitage at Mayapan (with Elizabeth France) investigates formal and informal production techniques, the role of exchange networks in the procurement of raw materials, and the spatial and social distribution of finished products.


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