research interests

Geographically my research interests focus on the historical archaeology of the American Southwest with special emphasis on Jicarilla Apache interactions with Pueblo and Hispanic villages during the late Spanish Colonial and US territorial periods.  More generally, my research interests include the archaeology of enclavemen and ethnic persistence, gender and childhood, ceramic production and exchange, and community-based and tribal archaeologies.  I am broadly trained in prehistoric and historical archaeology with methodological skills in ceramic and source geochemistry primarily, although I also have experience in zooarchaeology, and paleobotany.  I was prepared for research with the Apaches through training in Great Basin and California hunter-gatherer archaeology and Paleoindian studies.

My work with descendent communities sets the direction of my research.  Involvement with traditional potters in New Mexico emphasized the location and characterization of micaceous clays, used in pottery manufacture, and the interplay of gender and ethnicity in Jicarilla economies.  This led to a related interest in the Hispanic communities with whom the Jicarilla interacted, and for the past several years, I have focused most of my work on the Ranchos de Taos Plaza, established in 1790 to fend off Comanche attacks.  Starting in 2006, I developed a community-based archaeology field program in the village and a long term project that investigates the emergence of Vecino society and culture as an indigenous New Mexico development with significant Apache input.  This work includes excavation on the plaza, a multi-year dendrochronology study of historic buildings, and survey of Hispanic rock art expressions. 

The residents and priests who have had a large hand in shaping this research have also argued that we cannot tell the story of the plaza without first telling the story of its children.  This was prompted in 2008, when we began to recover numerous children’s toys in our excavation units.  Although just beginning, my childhood archaeology project combines archaeology, oral history, and documentary records to investigate the long-term effects of the American school system commercialized play on children’s lives, and subsequently on the local traditions and identities of the village.

Finally, from 2001 to 2005 I was fortunate to work for the Gila River Indian Community, Cultural Resource Management Program, one of the largest in the country.  It was during this time that I gained an interest in prehistoric Hohokam ceramic manufacture and exchange.  Through NSF-funded research, I am bringing the source survey and geochemistry approach, developed during my dissertation, to bear on issues of social and economic complexity in central Arizona.

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sunday eiselt
  southern methodist university
  department of anthropology
  3225 daniel ave., heroy hall 450
  dallas, TX 75205