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Susan D. Gillespie, Ph.D.



Office: Turlington Hall, Room B338
Phone: (352) 294-7595
Lab: Turlington Hall, Room B350


1983 Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dissertation: Aztec Prehistory as Postconquest Dialogue: A Structural Analysis of the Royal Dynasty of Tenochtitlan

1977 M.A., Anthropology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Thesis: The Use of Procedural Modes to Classify Chipped Stone Tools

1974 A.B., Anthropology, University of Maryland, College Park (High Honors)

Research Interests

Archaeology, ethnohistory, iconography, and epigraphy of Mesoamerica (focusing on Aztecs, Mayas, and Olmecs); kinship, kingship, and socio-political organization; cosmology and political ideologies; symbolic, structural, and semiotic anthropology; archaeological and social theory; the anthropology of history; the history of anthropology

Personal Statement

My research combines archaeological, iconographic, and ethnohistorical approaches to the investigation of social organization and social identity. My geographic focus is Mesoamerica, which I treat as a symbiotic area (a “field of ethnological study”) whose co-evolving societies are best understood from regional and interregional long-term comparative perspectives. My excavations, iconographic, and documentary analyses have focused on the Aztecs, Olmecs, and Maya. I am especially interested in understanding the formation and interactions of social groups and hierarchy from a sociocosmic perspective, and how conceptions of time, place, person, and event were represented in material ways. These include architectural forms and landscapes, ritual and mundane actions, the crafting of portable objects, the manipulation of symbolic forms and icons, and the construction and maintenance of narratives. My work is theoretically oriented towards social and contextual archaeology, and an anthropology of history.

Positions and Honors

Positions and Employment

Other Experience and Professional Memberships



Selected Publications


2015 Things in Motion: Object Itineraries in Anthropological Practice, ed. by Rosemary A. Joyce and Susan D. Gillespie. Santa Fe: School of Advanced Research Press.

2003 Archaeology Is Anthropology, ed. by Susan D. Gillespie and Deborah L. Nichols. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association No. 13. Arlington, VA.


2015 *Journey’s End (?): The Travels of La Venta Offering 4. In Things in Motion: Object Itineraries in Anthropological Practice, ed. by Rosemary A. Joyce and Susan D. Gillespie, pp. 39-61. Santa Fe: School of Advanced Research Press.

2015 *Making Things Out of Objects that Move, by Rosemary A. Joyce and Susan D. Gillespie. In Things in Motion: Object Itineraries in Anthropological Practice, ed. by Rosemary A. Joyce and Susan D. Gillespie, pp. 3-19. Santa Fe: School of Advanced Research Press.

2013 Gendering the Hero Twins in the Popol Vuh. In Género y Arqueología en Mesoamérica: Homenaje a Rosemary A. Joyce, ed. by María J. Rodríguez-Shadow and Susan Kellogg, pp. 139-151. Mexico City: Centro de Estudios de Antropología de la Mujer.

2012 “El modelo de la “sociedad de casas” en la arqueología de la vida cotidiana” In VII Coloquio Pedro Bosch-Gimpera: Arqueologías de la vida cotidiana: espacios domésticos y áreas de actividad en el México antiguo y
otras zonas culturales, edited by Guillermo Acosta Ochoa, pp. 21-48. Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City.

2011 *El Modelo de la “Casa” en la Estructura Política Maya. In El Despligue del Poder entre los Mayas: Nuevos 8. Estudios sobre la Organización Política, edited by Ana Luisa Izquierdo, pp. 29-61. Mexico City: Universidad
Nacional Autónoma de México.

Journal articles

2014 *A 3d Model of Complex A, La Venta, Mexico” by Susan D. Gillespie and Michael Volk. Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage 1(3-4):72-81. DOI: 10.1016/j.daach.2014.06.001 ISSN: 2212-0548

2013 *Early Monumentality in North America: Another Comparative Perspective for Africa. Azania:Archaeological Research in Africa (Journal of the British Institute in Eastern Africa) 48(2): 301-314.
DOI: 10.1080/0067270X.2013.794591

2011 *Archaeological Drawings as Re-Presentations: The Maps of Complex A, La Venta, Mexico. Latin American Antiquity 22(1):3-36.

2011 *Inside and Outside: Residential Burial at Formative Period Chalcatzingo, Mexico. Residential Burial: A Multi-regional Exploration edited by Ron L. Adams and Stacie M. King. Archeological Papers of the
American Anthropological Association 20:98-120.

2011 *Maya Memory Work. Ancient Mesoamerica 21:401-414.

More Publications Available on Google Scholar

Contribution to Science


Research Support

Ongoing Research Support

Completed Research Support (within the past three years)


Courses Taught