Lisa Overholtzer

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Northwestern University, 2012

My research examines the everyday material practices of ordinary people living in ancient and colonial central Mexico. I have conducted extensive fieldwork at Xaltocan, where I investigated how local household life was transformed under the successive Aztec and Spanish imperial conquests. By exploring how ordinary people reconfigured their material surroundings and (re)formed their daily lives after two drastic military defeats, I attempt to re-center our understanding of Aztec and Spanish colonial empires around the lives of rural commoners. My projects employ a bottom-up perspective in theory and in practice, and I remain committed to decolonizing archaeological practice through community archaeology and collaboration with descendant communities.

More broadly, my research works to bridge disciplinary chasms between archaeological theorists and archaeological scientists through the application of geoarchaeological and molecular archaeology analyses to research questions derived from social theories of materiality, agency and practice, and embodiment.

Topics of interest to me include the study of households and the articulation between the macro- and micro-scales of society; time in archaeology; and gender, ethnic, class, and age-based identities in ancient Mesoamerica. Analytical specialties include analysis of ceramics, especially figurines and decorated serving vessels; geochemical and petrographic provenance analyses; Bayesian statistical modeling of C14 dates; and ancient DNA analysis.


Representative Publications:

Overholtzer, Lisa and Cynthia Robin (editors). 2015. The Materiality of Everyday Life. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, Vol. 26.

Overholtzer Lisa. 2015. Agency, Practice, and Chronological Context: A Bayesian Approach to Household Chronologies. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 37:37-47.

Overholtzer Lisa. 2015. The Field Crew Symposium: A Model for Initial Implementation of a Collaborative Archaeology Project. Advances in Archaeological Practice 3(1)

De Lucia, Kristin and Lisa Overholtzer. 2014. Everyday Action and the Rise and Decline of Ancient Polities: Household Strategy and Political Change in Postclassic Central Mexico. Ancient Mesoamerica 25(2):441-458.

Stoner, Wesley D., John K. Millhauser, Enrique Rodríguez-Alegría, Lisa Overholtzer, and Michael D. Glascock. 2014. Taken with a Grain of Salt: Experimentation and the Chemistry of Archaeological Ceramics from Xaltocan, Mexico. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 21(4):862-898.

Overholtzer, Lisa. 2014. A New Bayesian Chronology for Postclassic and Colonial Occupation at Xaltocan, Mexico. Radiocarbon 56(3): 1077–1092.

Overholtzer Lisa. 2013. Archaeological Interpretation and the Rewriting of History: Deimperializing and Decolonizing the Past at Xaltocan, Mexico. American Anthropologist 115(3):481-495.

Mata-Míguez, Jaime, Lisa Overholtzer, Enrique Rodríguez-Alegría, Brian M. Kemp, and Deborah A. Bolnick. 2012. The Genetic Impact of Aztec Imperialism: Ancient Mitochondrial DNA Evidence from Xaltocan, Mexico. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 149(4):504-516.

Overholtzer, Lisa. 2012. So that the baby not be formed like a pottery rattle: Rattle Figurines and Aztec Household Social Reproductive Practices. Ancient Mesoamerica 23(1):69-83.