Chair and Curator
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1981 "The Cuicatlán Cañada and Monte Albán: Interregional Processes and Primary State Formation in Central Oaxaca"
Dr. Spencer's ongoing research focuses on the development of pre-Columbian complex societies in Mexico and Venezuela. In Oaxaca, Mexico, he is investigating the time periods during which the early Zapotec state, probably the first such political development in Mesoamerica, emerged with its capital at Monte Albán in the Valley of Oaxaca and began to dominate the valley as well as a number of surrounding valleys and canyons. In Barinas, Venezuela, his research has explored the emergence of the earliest chiefdom societies in the western llanos (savanna grasslands) of the Orinoco Basin.
At the archaeological site of El Palenque in Oaxaca, Dr. Spencer and Research Associate Elsa M. Redmond have completed the excavation of Structure 7, a palatial residence that was one of nine buildings making up a palace complex that covers 713 square meters (called the Area I Palace). Built of adobe bricks-some of which were still preserved-on stone foundations, Structure 7 measures 16 x 16 meters overall and consists of eight rooms arranged around a central patio measuring 8 x 8 meters. Carbon-14 dating and ceramic associations have been used to date the palace to the Late Monte Albán I phase (300-100 B.C.). Although the existence of such palaces is well documented for the Classic Period (A.D. 200-700), the Area I Palace is the earliest example of a palace thus far excavated in the Oaxaca area. It is a significant discovery because several Oaxaca scholars think that the palace was one of the central institutions of the early Zapotec state. These excavations are thus providing evidence that the Zapotec state had probably emerged by the Late Monte Albán I phase. Also at the El Palenque site, Dr. Spencer and Dr. Redmond have excavated two temples dating to the Late Monte Albán I phase.
Dr. Spencer has also conducted research on issues in ecological anthropology and cultural evolution, and is currently carrying out a program of data processing that will lead to a monograph on the Barinas project.
RECENT SIGNIFICANT PUBLICATIONS
Redmond, E.M., and C.S. Spencer. 2008. Rituals of sanctification and the development of standardized temples in Oaxaca, Mexico: a temple Sequence at San Martín Tilcajete. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 18:
Redmond, E.M. and C.S. Spencer. 2007. Archaeological Survey in the High Llanos and Andean Piedmont of Barinas, Venezuela. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History. 86. New York, New York.
Redmond, E.M, and C.S. Spencer. 2007. Investigaciones arqueológicas en San Martín Tilcajete: Un Centro del período formativo en el Valle de Oaxaca. Boletín del Conseo de Arqueología, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. México, D.F. Electronic article, http://www.arqueologia.inah.gob.mx/consejo/index.php
Cordell, L.S., T.J. Ferguson, E.M. Redmond, C.S. Spencer, D.H. Thomas, and P. Whiteley. 2007. A misrepresentation of Ancestral Pueblo. Anthropology News 48: 3.
Minc, L.D., R.J. Sherman, C. Elson, C.S. Spencer, and E.M. Redmond. 2007. 'M Glow Blue': archaeometric research at Michigan's Ford nuclear reactor. Archaeometry 49: 215-228.
Spencer, C.S. 2007. Territorial expansion and primary state formation in Oaxaca, Mexico. In R. Chacon and R. Mendoza (editors), Latin American Indigenous Warfare and Ritual Violence: 55-72. Tucson, Univ. of Arizona Press.
Redmond, E.M., and C.S. Spencer. 2006. From raiding to conquest: warfare strategies and early state development in Oaxaca, Mexico. In E.N. Arkush and M.W. Allen (editors), The Archaeology of Warfare: Prehistories of Raiding and Conquest: 336-393. Gainesville, Univ. of Florida Press.
Sharer, R.J., A.K. Balkansky, J.H. Burton, G.M. Feinman, K.V. Flannery, D.C. Grove, J. Marcus, R.G. Moyle, T.D. Price, E.M. Redmond, R.G. Reynolds, P.M. Rice, C.S. Spencer, J.B. Stoltman, and J. Yaeger. 2006. On the logic of archaeological inference: early formative pottery and the evolution of Mesoamerican societies. Latin American Antiquity 17: 90-103.
Spencer, C.S. 2006. Modeling (and measuring) expansionism and resistance: state formation in ancient Oaxaca, Mexico. In P. Turchin, L. Grinin, A. Korotayev, and V.C. de Munck (editors), History & Mathematics: Historical Dynamics and Development of Complex Societies: 170-192. Moscow, Russian State University for the Humanities.
Spencer, C.S. 2006. Review of Yaxcabá and the caste war of Yucatán: an archaeological Perspective, by Rani T. Alexander. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 37: 167-168.
Flannery, K.V., A.K. Balkansky, G.M. Feinman, D.C. Grove, J. Marcus, E.M. Redmond, R.G. Reynolds, R.J. Sharer, C.S. Spencer, and J. Yaeger. 2005. Implications of new petrographic analysis for the Olmec "mother culture" model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102: 11219-11223.
Spencer, C.S., and E.M. Redmond. 2005. Institutional development in Late Formative Oaxaca: The view from San Martín Tilcajete. In T.G. Powis (editor), New Perspectives on Formative Mesoamerican Cultures. British Archaeological Reports, International Series 1377:171-182. Oxford, U.K., Archaeopress.
Spencer, C.S., and E.M. Redmond. 2006. Resistance strategies and early state formation in Oaxaca, Mexico. In C. Elson and R.A. Covey (editors), Intermediate Elites in Precolumbian States and Empires: 21-43. Tucson, Univ. of Arizona Press.
Spencer, C., and E. Redmond. 2004. Primary state formation in Mesoamerica. Annual Review of Anthropology 33: 173-199.
Spencer, C., and E. Redmond. 2004. A Late Monte Albán I Phase (300-100 B.C.) palace in the Valley of Oaxaca. Latin American Antiquity 15: 441-455
OTHER PROFESSIONAL HONORS