American Museum Of Natural History Archaeologist Elected To American Academy Of Arts And Sciences

by AMNH on


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
Charles S. Spencer

Credit: Barry Landua, AMNH

Charles S. Spencer, Chairman and Curator in the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an international learned society with a membership including the world's leading scientists, scholars, artists, business people, and public leaders. Dr. Spencer is an internationally renowned anthropological archaeologist specializing in the origins of hierarchical societies and the rise of the first political states in Mesoamerica, where he has been conducting fieldwork for more than 25 years. His focus is the Valley of Oaxaca and surrounding regions, a mountainous part of southern Mexico that is home to the Zapotec people. His latest work indicates that the ancient Zapotec achieved a number of cultural milestones before their counterparts in other parts of Mesoamerica, contrary to previous views of the Oaxaca area as a cultural backwater. Dr. Spencer is widely recognized as a leader in the application of evolutionary theory and socio-political concepts to the study of prehistoric cultural change and has proposed an important mathematical model of pristine state formation.

Dr. Spencer received a B.A. in anthropology from Rice University in 1972, and an M.A. in 1976 and a Ph.D. in 1981, both in anthropology from the University of Michigan. He was an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Connecticut before joining the Museum in 1991 as Associate Curator in the Department of Anthropology. He became Curator in 1994. Dr. Spencer is also an adjunct associate professor of anthropology at Columbia University.

Additional members of the Museum's scientific staff who are Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences are Michael J. Novacek, Senior Vice President, Provost of Science, and Curator, Division of Paleontology; Malcolm C. McKenna, Frick Curator Emeritus, Division of Paleontology; and Craig Morris, Curator, Division of Anthropology.

Media Inquiries: Department of Communications, 212-769-5800