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Charles R. Hale, Director SRH 1.310, 2300 Red River Street D0800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512.471.5551

Enrique R. Rodriguez-Alegría

Associate Professor Ph.D., University of Chicago

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
Enrique R. Rodriguez-Alegría



archaeology and ethnohistory of Mesoamerica; colonialism; religious conversion; the Spanish empire in Latin America

LAS 315 • Intro Mesoamerican Archaeol

40532 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm CLA 0.112
(also listed as ANT 314C )
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Introduction to ancient Mesoamerica from the time of emerging social inequality in the formative period until the Spanish conquest of Mexico-Tenochtitlan in the sixteenth century

LAS 391 • Aztecs And Spaniards

41015 • Fall 2013
Meets W 200pm-500pm SAC 5.124
(also listed as ANT 384M )
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The Aztec and the Spanish empires have attracted the attention of scholars and the public for a long time with stories of gold, human sacrifice, warfare, and the meeting of two different civilizations.  In this class we will study both empires, taking advantage of the varied lines of evidence available for their study, especially historical and archaeological evidence, as well as monuments and works of art.  The focus of the class will be on how imperial expansion affected the daily life of people in the Aztec empire and after the Spanish conquest.  In addition to studying the daily life of different people in these empires, we will examine some of the themes that have fascinated both scholars and the general public, including human sacrifice, conquest warfare, and religion.  The goal of the class is to examine social and cultural heterogeneity in both of these empires, to familiarize students with the diverse lines of evidence we have to study these empires, and to understand processes of historical change among the Aztecs and the Spanish empire. 

            The class will be roughly divided equally between the Aztec empire and the Spanish empire.  Prior experience in archaeology is not required to join the class. 

LAS 310 • Intro Mesoamerican Archaeol

40110 • Fall 2011
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm WAG 101
(also listed as ANT 310L )
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This course is an introduction to ancient Mesoamerica, the area roughly covering Mexico and the northern half of Central America, from the time of emerging social inequality among the Formative Period Olmec until the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the sixteenth century.  By studying archaeological evidence from several sites in this region we will address a few important theoretical issues in archaeology.  These issues include:  1) the relationship between social organization, culture and the environment, 2) the role of sex, gender, and sexuality in the construction of social inequality, and 3) the use of material culture in the transformation of relationships of power.  During the course of the semester we will examine varied lines of evidence, including archaeological artifacts (especially pottery, obsidian, and ceramic figurines), human remains, architecture, murals, sculpture, and historical evidence (esp. codices and colonial accounts) to assess the role of evidence and theory in the formation of how we conceptualize the past in Mesoamerica.  Thus, the course will not only serve as an introduction to Mesoamerican prehistory and the early colonial period, but it will also be a critical evaluation of the role of evidence and theory in the formation of knowledge about the past.

LAS 324L • Colonial Latin Amer Archaeol

40510 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 1100-1230pm JGB 2.216
(also listed as ANT 324L )
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ANT324L/LAS324: Archaeology of Colonial Latin America

Unique numbers 30285, 40510

Spring 2010  T-Th 11:00-12:30

Classroom: JGB 2.216


Instructor: Enrique Rodríguez

Office: EPS 1.110C

Office hours: Tuesdays 2:00-4:00 or by appointment.  Please take advantage of office hours!

Email: see email rules below


Teaching Assistant: Emily Root-Garey

TA’s office: EPS 2.136



Course overview:  This course will focus on the Spanish colonies in Latin America, answering three general questions during the course of the semester:

1) How did Indigenous people, European colonizers, and Africans act in the colonial                         period? What were their daily lives like?  What kinds of material goods did                                     they use?

2) How can archaeological and historical data be used in conjunction to reconstruct                                     what happened in the colonial period in Latin America?

3) What do concepts like acculturation, syncretism, creolization, etc, mean, and how have                                     they helped historical and anthropological knowledge about the past?


As we answer the questions written above, we will consider also an important and often passionate debate taking place on college campuses and other public forums every year between those who argue that European colonialism was a disaster for indigenous people in the Americas, and those who argue that it brought progress to indigenous civilizations. 


Rather than focusing on Latin America as a unitary or homogeneous culture, we will study different regions and sites to learn from the variation encountered within the Spanish empire in what we know today as Latin America.  We will begin in the Caribbean, examining historical events, and aspects of daily life and colonial administration, religious conversion, and demography.  We will then focus on Mexico and Central America, examining the same issues, and finally on South America.  To complete the course successfully, students must be able to compare and contrast patterns and historical developments in different regions.


This is an archaeology course; therefore, students should be prepared to engage with readings in archaeology, and students should draw upon archaeological as well as historical evidence in class discussion and exams. No previous experience in archaeology is required, and students who are not Archaeology majors or who have never taken a course in archaeology are certainly encouraged to join the class.  This class will increase literacy in archaeology for non-archaeology majors and it will help students understand how to combine archaeological and historical evidence in the study of the past. 





Goals and objectives:

The course has three main goals: 

1.         To examine in detail the daily lives of people in the Spanish colonies in different regions in Latin America.

2.         To create an understanding of how to integrate historical and archaeological evidence to learn about the past.

3.         To examine the ways that culture and everyday life are related to struggles for power in particular historical situations.


Students with disabilities: Any student with disabilities should talk to me as soon as possible so that we may make arrangements that will make for a better learning experience and that will allow the student to show his or her abilities fully.


Other classroom rules:

            NO laptop computers, newspapers, or calculators in class or during exams.  Please turn off your cell phones.  Texting is not allowed in class.

            Academic dishonesty will be dealt with according to University rules.


Grading:  Successful completion of this course will require learning from readings, lectures, slideshows, in-class exercises, and film.  Topics covered in the readings and in the classroom will, at times, be entirely different.  Exams will cover material and lines of evidence discussed in class and in the readings.


            Students are also expected to attend class and to participate.  Participation will require completing the readings before class. 


            Reading commentaries: There will  be 11 reading commentaries due during the semester.  At the end of the semester, the lowest three (3) scores of each student’s commentaries will be dropped, and only the eight (8) highest scores will be counted.  Under normal circumstances, there will be no chances to turn commentaries in late.  Any student who misses a commentary will get a 0 for the week’s assignment and that score will be dropped if it is one of the three lowest scores.  Specific instructions on commentaries will be handed out at the beginning of the semester.


            Exams: There will be three exams during the semester, on the dates provided in the syllabus.  Under normal circumstances, there will be no make-up exams.  Talk to me as early as possible if you know you will not make it to an exam.  If you miss an exam, please bring specific documentation of the reason why you missed it, and we can talk about scheduling an exam for you only under exceptional circumstances


Students may discuss with me their exam grade individually.  Once we have discussed the grade, I might agree to re-grade the exam.  Re-grading does not guarantee a better grade.  In fact, your grade might suffer during a re-grading if I find errors that I did not find on my first grading. Therefore, students are advised to make sure you have specific reasons why your grade should improve before showing up to discuss your grade.




Final grades will be calculated as follows:

1.     Exam 1: 20%

2.     Exam 2: 25%

3.     Exam 3: 30%

4.     Reading commentaries: 25%





Burkholder, Mark, and Lyman L. Johnson.  2007.  Colonial Latin America. (7th ed.)  Oxford University Press. REQUIRED.  The readings from the Colonial Latin America textbook appear in the weekly schedule below with the acronym CLA.


Course packet available at Abel’s Copies.  REQUIRED.


Readings marked as “on JSTOR” can be found at on any campus computer.  I will explain in class how to log on to jstor, and I will post instructions on the Blackboard site for the class.


Email rules:

1.     Email if you have a medical emergency that will prevent you from making it to an exam.  Do not email if you will not make it to lecture, unless you will miss more than two lectures in a row.

2.     Email if I ask you to email me.

3.     Email if you cannot make it to office hours and you need to schedule an appointment outside of office hours.

4.     Do not email to continue class discussion; please use office hours.  Also, if you have a question about the material, please bring it up in class.  Other students will most likely benefit from it.

5.     Do not use email to turn in assignments, to send attachments, or to ask about the exam.  Please see me in office hours and bring your exam.

6.     My email is:





The readings from the Colonial Latin America textbook appear with the acronym CLA.


I.     Introduction (January 19, 21)

A.    Social history and social archaeology

B.    Timelines and scope of the class

C.    Central issues of the class

                                               i.     Acculturation, syncretism, and other approaches to cultural change

                                             ii.     History and archaeology: a combination of a diversity of sources

                                            iii.     Cross-cultural comparison and historical studies

D.   Readings:

                                               i.     CLA, pp. 23-33: “The Iberian World in the Late Fifteenth Century”. (The readings from the Colonial Latin America textbook appear with the acronym CLA.)


II.   Points of departure (January 26, 28)

A.    Spain before the conquest

                                               i.     Social life in Spain

                                             ii.     The goals and strategies of conquest

B.    Readings:

                                               i.     Jordan, Kurt A.  2009  “Colonies, Colonialism, and Cultural Entanglement: The Archaeology of Postcolumbian Intercultural Relations”.  In International Handbook of Historical Archaeology, edited by Teresita Majewski and David Gaimster, pp. 31-49.  Springer.  (We will read pages 31-37 only). COURSE PACKET.

                                             ii.     Deagan, Kathleen  2001  “Dynamics of imperial adjustment in Spanish America: ideology and social integration.”  In Empires: Perspectives from Archaeology and History, edited by S.E. Alcock, T.N. D’Altroy, K.D. Morrison, and C.M. Sinopoli, pp. 179-194. COURSE PACKET. 


III.         THE CARIBBEAN: THE CONQUEST (February 2, 4)

A.    Caribbean chiefdoms and the Taíno

B.    The conquest of the Caribbean

C.    Readings:

                                               i.     CLA, pp. 41-49: “First Encounters in the New World”.

                                             ii.     Deagan, Kathleen.  2004.  “Reconsidering Taino Social Dynamics After Spanish Conquest: Gender and Class in Culture Contact Studies”  American Antiquity 69(4):597-626.  On JSTOR.  **Commentary due on Tuesday**



A.    Gender and colonialism in the Caribbean

B.    Readings:

                                               i.     Wilson, Samuel M.  2007  The Archaeology of the Caribbean.  Cambridge.  Pp. 155-169.  COURSE PACKET.

                                             ii.     Scaramelli, Franz  2008  “Encounter, Exchange and Technological Innovation in the Tropical Lowlands of the Orinoco, Venezuela.”  Cuadernos de Arqueología Mediterránea 17:73-82.  COURSE PACKET.  **Commentary due on Tuesday**



A.    History of slavery

B.    Archaeological contributions

C.    Readings:

                                               i.     CLA, pp. 33-41: “Atlantic Africa in the Fifteenth Century” and pp. 144-155: “Slavery and the Slave Trade”.

                                             ii.     Singleton, Theresa.  2001.  “Slavery and Spatial Dialectics on Cuban Coffee Plantations” World Archaeology 33(1):98-114.  Available on JSTOR.

                                            iii.     Orser, Charles, and Pedro P.A. Funari.  2001.  “Archaeology and Slave Resistance and Rebellion”  World Archaeology 33(1):61-72.  Available on JSTOR.  **Commentary due on Tuesday**



***EXAM 1 February 25***

A.    The Aztec and the Maya

B.    The conquest of Mexico: between an event and a process

C.    Readings:

                                               i.     CLA pp. 1-19: “Amerindian Civilization”, and  52-59: “The Conquest of Mexico”.



A.    Case study: food in Mexico City and Xaltocan, Mexico

B.    Readings:

                                               i.     CLA, 195-224: Chapter Six.

                                             ii.     Charlton, Thomas H., Cynthia L. Otis Charlton, and Patricia Fournier García  2005.  “The Basin of Mexico A.D. 1450-1620: Archaeological Dimensions”.  In The Postclassic to Spanish-Era Transition in Mesoamerica: Archaeological Perspectives, edited by Susan Kepecs and Rani T. Alexander, pp. 49-64.  University of New Mexico Press.  COURSE PACKET.  **Commentary due on Tuesday**



(March 9, 11)

A.    Disease and the conquest

B.    Demographic changes: population collapse and inter-ethnic marriage

C.    Readings:

                                               i.     CLA, pp. 123-135: “Changes in the Colonial Population”

                                             ii.     Danforth, Marie et al. 1997.  “Gender and health among the Colonial Maya of Tipu, Belize” Ancient Mesoamerica 8(1):13-22.  COURSE PACKET.  **Commentary due on Tuesday**

                                            iii.     White, Christine, Lori E. Wright, and David M. Pedergast  1994.  “Biological Disruption in the Early colonial Period at Lamanai” in In the Wake of Contact: Biological Responses to Conquest, edited by Clark Spencer Larsen and George R. Milner, pp. 135-145.  COURSE PACKET.


SPRING BREAK (March 15-19)



(March 23, 25)

A.    Religious conversion and syncretism

B.    Religious architecture as “theater”

C.    Readings:

                                               i.     CLA, pp.107-122: The Colonial Church.

                                             ii.     Graham, Elizabeth.  1991.  “Archaeological Insights into Colonial Period Maya Life at Tipu, Belize” in Columbian Consequences, Vol. 3: The Spanish Borderlands in Pan-American Perspective.  Edited by David Hurst Thomas, pp. 319-335.  Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington.  COURSE PACKET.  **Commentary due on Tuesday**



(March 30, April 1) ***Exam 2 on April 1***


A.    Production, labor, and resistance

B.    Readings:

                                               i.     CLA, pp. 134-144: “Indian Labor”, pp. 157-174: “The Mining and Sugar Industries”, and “International Trade and Taxation.

                                             ii.     Alexander, Rani T.  2005  “Isla Civiltuk and the Difficulties of Spanish Colonization in Southwestern Campeche”.  In The Postclassic to Spanish-Era Transition in Mesoamerica: Archaeological Perspectives.  Edited by Susan Kepecs and Rani T. Alexander, pp. 117-138.  University of New Mexico Press.  COURSE PACKET.

                                            iii.     Brumfiel, E. 1996.  “The Quality of Tribute Cloth: the Place of Evidence in Archaeological Argument” American Antiquity 61(3):453-462.  Available on JSTOR.  **Commentary due on Tuesday**




A.    The Inca empire

B.    Before and after the conquest of the Inca

C.    Readings:

                                               i.     CLA, pp. 19-23: “The Inca”, pp. 60-93.

                                             ii.     Van Buren, Mary.  1996.  “Rethinking the Vertical Archipelago: Ethnicity, Exchange, and History in the South Central Andes”.  American Anthropologist 98(2): 338-351.  Available on JSTOR.



A.    Comparative perspectives on daily life, material culture, and power.

B.    Readings:

                                               i.     Van Buren, M. 1999.  “Tarapaya: An Elite Spanish Residence near Colonial Potosi in Comparative Perspective” Historical Archaeology 33(2):101-115.  COURSE PACKET.

                                             ii.     Jamieson, R.W.  2000. “Doña Luisa and Her Two Houses” in Lines That Divide: Historical Archaeologies of Race, Class, and Gender.  Edited by J.A. Delle, S.A. Mrozowki, and R. Paynter, pp. 142-167.  COURSE PACKET.  **Commentary due on Tuesday**




A.    Comparative perspectives on demographic change and the caste life

B. Readings:

                                               i.     CLA, pp. 225-248: The Family and Society.

                                             ii.     Ubelaker, D. 1994.  “The Biological Impact of European Contact in Ecuador”, in In The Wake of Contact, edited by Clark Spencer Larsen and George R. Milner, pp. 147-160.  COURSE PACKET.  **Commentary due on Tuesday**



A.    Comparative perspectives on religious conversion

B.    Readings:

                                               i.     Rostworowski, María.  1998.  “Pachacamac and El Señor de los Milagros” in Native Traditions in the Postconquest World.  Edited by E. H. Boone and T. Cummins, pp. 345-360.  Dumbarton Oaks.  AVAILABLE ONLINE at

                                             ii.     Wernke, Steven A.  2007  “Analogy or Erasure?  Dialectics of Religious Transformation in the Early Doctrinas of the Colca Valley, Peru”  International Journal of Historical Archaeology 11(2):152-182.  Available at  **Commentary due on Tuesday**



***Exam 3 on May 6***

A.    Comparative perspective on production and trade

B.    Issues of provisioning in the Andes

C.    Regional comparisons and closing remarks

D.   READ:

                                               i.     deFrance, S.D.  1996. “Iberian Foodways in the Moquegua and Torata Valleys of Southern Peru” Historical Archaeology 30(3):20-48.  COURSE PACKET.  **Commentary due on Tuesday**


Applying to the graduate program

Here are the answers to some common questions regarding the graduate program and admissions:

Q: Are you admitting students next year?

A: Maybe.  It depends on how many students we can fund, and on the quality of the applicants.  I always recommend that people apply because even if we have limited admissions, perhaps their application will rise to the top.  Give it a good shot.

Q: What can I do to increase my chances of admission?

A:  The answer to this question includes everything you already know:

--A good statement of purpose is absolutely necessary for admission.  Be clear about what your goals are in graduate school.  Tell us what topics and regions interest you and why.  Tell us why you think Texas would be a good school for you, given your interests.  Mention what faculty that you would like to work with. 

--The higher your GPA, the better your chances of admission.

--The higher your GRE, the better your chances of admission.

--Good letters of recommendation are necessary for admission.

--You should have field experience in archaeology, whether in field schools, as part of archaeological projects, CRM, or all of the above. 

Q: Is there funding for graduate students?

A: Yes.  In recent years we have admitted students only if we can fund them with a combination of stipend, tuition, and teaching assistantships.  Regardless of their funding necessities, I always encourage students to apply for external funding from the National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, Ford International, and any other agency for which they may qualify.  All of my students are required to apply for external funding on the first year of graduate school.

Q: What is your area of specialization?

A: I am an archaeologist and I work primarily in Central Mexico on the Aztecs and Spanish colonizers.  I have worked in Mexico City, with the Programa de Arqueologia Urbana of the Templo Mayor Museum, doing research on Spanish colonizers and their material belongings, their interaction with indigenous people, and their everyday lives.  I have also worked in Xaltocan, a town north of Mexico City, doing research on indigenous people before and after the Spanish conquest of the town.  I have used a variety of methods in my research, including archaeological excavation, NAA, ICP-MS, lithic typology, XRF, ceramic typology, archival research, and others. I have many interests, including materiality, food, cooking, gender, and on and on.  You can get a good idea of my interests by consulting my publications page.

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