College of Liberal and Fine Arts

M. Kathryn Brown, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Anthropology

Research area: Archaeology


Phone: (210) 458-6761

Office: MH 4.03.32

Research in Progress

My principal research focus is one of anthropology’s fundamental topics, the origins of complex societies. Because I am interested in the rise of complexity as a general phenomenon, I value cross-cultural comparisons. As my primary case study and focus of fieldwork, however, I examine the Maya Civilization of Central America. I have conducted research for over a katun in the Maya Lowlands, especially in the Belize River Valley and Northern Belize. There, I have traced the development of social inequalities in early Maya communities. More recently, I have become interested in these processes at a regional scale, examining how early communities were placed across the ancient landscape and how they interacted through trade, competition, and warfare. Through these interactions, hierarchical structures came to bind these communities into more complex polities that formed the basis for the Maya states of the Classic period. These questions are the focus of my current fieldwork project, the Mopan Valley Preclassic Project, which examines the Preclassic components of sites in the Upper Belize River Valley including Nohoch Ek and Xunantunich to understand both the roles of public architecture and ritual activities in sanctifying an emerging hierarchical social order, and how the interactions between competing communities shaped the development of complex polities.

Most of my research has focused on the Preclassic Maya, but I have a strong interest in Texas archaeology as well. I have directed eleven seasons of fieldwork in Texas, conducted as archaeological field schools. These projects investigated both historic and prehistoric sites, and the data collected have been relevant to several important topics in Texas prehistory and history, including prehistoric mobility patterns and the establishment of pioneer settlements in Texas.


Ph.D., Southern Methodist University, 2003


I believe that an effective teacher must be enthusiastic about the subject matter and enjoy teaching. In all of the courses I teach, I emphasize the relevance of learning about past cultures in order to understand better the cultural and physical diversity in the modern world. I stress a four-field approach to anthropology and encourage the students to think critically and analytically about the subject matter. I try to create a dynamic and interactive classroom that serves as a comfortable environment conducive to learning. I have taught a number of courses in anthropology, including Introduction of Archaeology, North American Archaeology, Mesoamerican Archaeology (both undergraduate and graduate level), Myths and Mysteries in Archaeology, Method and Theory (graduate level), as well as Texas Archaeological Field School and Belize Archaeological Field School.

Recent Publications

2011 - Brown M. K. Postclassic Veneration at Xunantunich, Belize. Mexicon XXXIII:126-131.

2008 - Stanton T, Brown M. K., and Pagliaro J. Garbage of the Gods: Refuse Disposal, Termination Deposits, and Violent Conflict among the Ancient Maya. Latin American Antiquity Vol. 19, no.3:227- 247.

2008 - Brown M. K., and Garber, J. Establishing and Re-using Sacred Space: A Diachronic Perspective from Blackman Eddy, Belize. In Ruins of the Past: The Use and Perception of Abandoned Structures in the Maya Lowlands, edited by Travis W. Stanton and Aline Magnoni, pp. 147-170. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

2008 - Brown M. K. Establishing Hierarchies in the Middle Preclassic Belize River Valley. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology Vol. 5, pp. 175-183. National Institute of Culture and History, Belmopan, Belize.

2003 - Brown M. K., and Stanton T. (Editors) Ancient Mesoamerican Warfare. AltaMira Press, California.


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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