UTSA President's Endowed Professor
Department of Anthropology
Research area: Archaeology
Phone: (210) 458-7966
Office: MH 4.01.23j
I am an anthropological archaeologist who studies Mesoamerican and Andean civilizations, particularly the Maya and Inka. My research interests include the organization of ancient households and communities, urbanism, landscapes and environments, the relationship between climate change and culture change, material culture and identity, ethnohistory, the politics of archaeological research, and Maya epigraphy and iconography.
Much of my research has sought to understand the organization of Classic Maya rural communities and the practices, institutions, and constructs that linked rural householders into extra-community socio-political entities. I have surveyed the countryside in Belize's Mopan River valley, mapped hundreds of houses and agricultural terraces, and excavated several rural houses in detail. My investigations also have taken me to the larger centers like Xunantunich, where I excavated monumental temples and palaces. My current research project focuses on documenting the changing relationships between Xunantunich and the rival center of Buenavista and understanding how competition between these two polities impacted the people who lived in the intervening countryside.
I have directed two other projects recenty that addressed broadly similar questions but in different contexts. The multi-disciplinary San Pedro Maya Project combined archival research, oral histories, and archaeological investigations to understand how Maya immigrants from Mexico were incorporated into colonial British Honduras in the 19th century. The Tiwanaku Inka Settlement Program examined how the Inka Empire reconfigured sacred space at the ancient city of Tiwanaku to fit their religion and world view and to legitimize their dominion over their provinces.
Honors and Awards: UTSA President’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Advancing Globalization (2017), Richard S. Howe Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, UTSA (2014).
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2000
I enjoy teaching, and I use a variety of media and methods to teach students what we know about the past, how we know it, and how it can help us understand ourselves and the world around us. My research strengthens my teaching, as I bring to the classroom the most recent interpretations and data from my research, as well as first-hand accounts of fieldwork and the process of interpreting archaeological data. I teach a variety of courses, from large introductory lecture courses, to small graduate and undergraduate seminars, and a summer archaeological field school in Belize. These include introductory courses on archaeology and more advanced courses on Maya and Mesoamerican civilizations, ancient complex societieis, indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, and the ethnohistory and historical archaeology of New Spain.
Prospective students: I am accepting MA and Ph.D. students. My current research in Belize holds particular opportunities for students who are interested in LiDAR, remote sensing, and settlement survey; the organization of Maya hinterland households and communities; Maya warfare and conflict; and the relationships between the human-environment interface and socio-political change. Students with other research foci are also welcome to apply, as are those who have other fieldwork sites for their thesis or dissertation research.
Current Ph.D. students: Tony deLuca, Rebecca Friedel, Tiffany Lindley, Rebecca Morris, Michael Petrozza, Sebastian Salagdo-Flores, Jason Whitaker
Current MA students: Mark Eli
2020 Collapse, Transformation, Reorganization: The Terminal Classic Transition in the Maya World. In The Maya World, edited by S. Hutson & T. Ardren, pp. 777–93. Routledge.
2020 Monumental Landscapes, Changing Ideologies, and Political Histories in the Mopan Valley (M.K. Brown & J. Yaeger) In Approaches to Monumental Landscapes of the Ancient Maya, ed. by B.A. Houk, B. Arroyo & T.G. Powis, pp. 290–312. University Press of Florida.
2020 Landscapes of Strategic Mobility in Central America: San Pedro Siris during the Caste War. (M.C. Church, C. Kray, & J. Yaeger) In Handbook of the Archaeology of Indigenous-Colonial Interaction in the Americas, edited by L.M. Panich and S.L. Gonzalez. Routledge.
2018 Inca Sacred Landscapes in the Titicaca Basin. (J. Yaeger & J.M. Lopez Bejarano) In The Oxford Handbook of the Incas, ed. by S. Alconini & A. Covey, pp. 541–57. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
2016 Locating and Dating Sites using LiDAR Survey in a Mosaic Landscape in Western Belize (J. Yaeger, M.K. Brown & B. Cap) Advances in Archaeological Practice 4(3):339–56.
2010 Classic Maya Provincial Politics: Xunantunich and its Hinterlands (edited by L.J. LeCount & J. Yaeger) University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
2000 The Archaeology of Communities: A New World Perspective (edited by M.A. Canuto & J. Yaeger) Routledge Press, London.
Main Office: MH 4.03.38
Department of Anthropology
University of Texas at San Antonio
College of Liberal and Fine Arts
One UTSA Circle
San Antonio, TX 78249-1644