Lisa Overholtzer

Lisa OverholtzerAssociate Professor and William Dawson Scholar

Ph.D. Northwestern University, 2012

I am the director of the Household Archaeology Laboratory in Peterson Hall, and my research examines the everyday material practices of ordinary people in Postclassic and Colonial Central Mexico. I currently direct a community-engaged household archaeology project at Tepeticpac, Tlaxcala, part of the capital of the enemies of the Aztecs and allies of the Spanish, which is funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant. I previously directed a collaborative Indigenous archaeology project at Xaltocan, Mexico, capital of the Otomí city-state and later home to Aztec imperial and Spanish colonial subjects.

I am committed to fostering more inclusive archaeological practice through community archaeology and collaboration with descendant communities. My research interests include household production and consumption; social identities, including gender, race and ethnicity, class, and age; social memory and time in archaeology; and research ethics and equity in archaeology in Mexico and Canada.

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 and ontology, agency and practice, and embodiment. My analytical specialties include analysis of ceramics, especially figurines and decorated serving vessels; geochemical and petrographic provenance analyses; and Bayesian statistical modeling of C14 dates.

I am currently accepting graduate students (master's and doctoral programs) who are interested in contributing to the Tepeticpac archaeological project, or who have overlapping theoretical and/or methodological interests and who plan to conduct research at another Postclassic or Colonial period archaeological site. Additional funding opportunities are available for doctoral students working on the Tepeticpac project.


Representative Publications:

Overholtzer, Lisa. 2021. Figurine Ontologies, Household Ritual Assemblages, and Gendered Concerns at Postclassic Xaltocan, Mexico. Americae (Early View).

Overholtzer, Lisa and Catherine L. Jalbert. 2021. A Leaky Pipeline and Chilly Climate in Archaeology in Canada. American Antiquity 86(2):261-282.

Hendon, Julia A., Lisa Overholtzer, and Rosemary A. Joyce (editors). 2021. Mesoamerican Archaeology, 2nd edition. Wiley Blackwell, New York.

Overholtzer, Lisa, Daniel E. Pierce, and Michael D. Glascock. 2020. Aztec black-on-orange and redware pottery production from the Middle Postclassic to early Colonial period: Insight from instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) at Xaltocan, Mexico. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 32(B):102642.

Overholtzer, Lisa. 2020. Aztec Imperial Matter?: Archaeological Visibility and Chronology as Tool of the Aztec Empire. In Archaeologies of Empire, edited by Bradley Parker, Anna Boozer, and Bleda During, pp. 167-198. School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe.

Overholtzer, Lisa and Juan R. Argueta Jr. 2018. Letting skeletons out of the closet: the ethics of displaying ancient Mexican human remains. International Journal of Heritage Studies 24(5):508-530.

Overholtzer, Lisa and Deborah A. Bolnick. 2017. The Archaeology of Commoner Social Memories and Legitimizing Histories. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 24(1):50-89.

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):50-62.

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.

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