Meso-American Archaeology

A man at an excavation site wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses holding a wood board.
Dr. Charles S. Spencer, Curator of Mexican and Central American Archaeology

Dr. Charles S. Spencer (Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Michigan) is Curator of Mexican and Central American Archaeology.

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 period 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 collaboration with AMNH Research Associate Elsa Redmond, Spencer has recently excavated the well-preserved remains of an ancient Zapotec palace dating to 300-100 BCE, one of the earliest palaces ever found by archaeologists in Mesoamerica. In Barinas, Venezuela, his research has explored the emergence of chiefdom societies that emerged around 600 CE in the western llanos (savanna grasslands) of the Orinoco Basin. Dr. Spencer is also interested in addressing general issues in ecological anthropology and cultural evolution.