Marilyn Masson

Anthropologist with a focus on Mexico, Pre-Columbian Maya Civilizations, Ancient Urban Life, Pre-Modern Political Economy and more.

The World Within Reach
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Marilyn Masson

College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Anthropology

Archaeology, Mexico, Pre-Columbian Maya Civilization, Ancient Urban Life and Landscapes, Pre-Modern Political Economy, Household Archaeology, Ethnohistory and Archaeology, Historical Anthropology, Zooarchaeology, Stone Tool Analysis

Campus phone: (518) 442-4700
Campus email:


Dr. Masson has been a faculty member of the Anthropology Department since 1996. She has directed research projects in Mexico and Belize that focus on household archaeology, rural/urban, and core/hinterland economic, social, and political relationships. She is an advocate for the involvement and mentorship of undergraduate students in field and laboratory research, and has introduced students to archaeological research almost annually for 21 years, in Central America or in her on campus lab at UAlbany. Most recently, her research has focused on urban life and the comparative well-being of ordinary families at the last Pre-Columbian Maya urban capital, the site of Mayapan, located in Yucatan, Mexico, This international, collaborative project compares city dwellers, craftspersons, and rural farmers in terms of quality of life, occupational specialization, and relative affluence through the analysis of their household inventories. The Mayapan project findings have been recently summarized in her 2014 book (with Carlos Peraza), “Kukulcan’s Realm: Urban Life at Ancient Mayapan (University Press of Colorado). More recently, (2017 and 2018), she has directed the “Underground Railroad Archaeology Project,” in historical downtown Albany, under the auspices of a summer archaeology field school through the university (in collaboration with local archaeologists Matthew Kirk, and Michael Lucas (of the New York State Museum). This project investigates the lifeways and activities of enslaved persons at the Ten Broeck Mansion and at the residences of prominent African American leaders of Albany’s abolitionist movement in the 1850’s.

Masson received her Ph.D. in anthropology in 1993 from the University of Texas at Austin, her Master’s degree from Florida State University (1989), and her B.A. from Texas A&M University (1982).