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Ben Nelson

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Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2402
Senior Sustainability Scientist
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2402
Biography

Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

SHESC Themes: Global Dynamics and Regional Interactions, Societies and their Natural Environments, Urban Societies

Field Specializations: Archaeology, Complex Societies, Ethnoarchaeology, Political Economy

Regional Foci: Mesoamerica, American Southwest

Education

Ph.D., Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, 1980

Bio

Research:
Ben A. Nelson is professor of anthropology at Arizona State University. He previously taught at the University of New Mexico and at the State University of New York at Buffalo (Ph.D., Southern Illinois University, 1980). His research focuses on cycles of social complexity and connectivity among the ancient cultures of northwestern Mexico and the American Southwest, especially from A.D. 200-1540, on human roles in and responses to the desertification of grasslands in those regions and on relating archaeology to indigenous cultures of the present day.

His national service includes work for professional associations and agencies such as the American Anthropological Association, the Society for American Archaeology and the National Science Foundation; he currently serves as associate director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

Research Projects:
Connections and Impacts of Northern and West Mexican Cultures
Legacies on the Landscape
Long-Term Coupled Socioecological Change in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico

Publications

Nelson, B. A. (2006). Mesoamerican objects and symbols in Chaco Canyon contexts. In S. H. Lekson (Ed.), The Archaeology of Chaco Canyon: An 11th century pueblo regional center. Santa Fe: SAR Press.

Nelson, B. A. & Crider, D. (2005). Posibles pasajes migratorios en el norte de México y el suroeste de los Estados Unidos durante el Epiclásico y el Postclásico. Reacomodos Demográficos del Clásico al Posclásico en el Centro de México. Instituto de Investigaciones Antropólogicas, Universidad Nacional de México, Mexico City (2005).

Nelson, B. A. (2004). Elite residences in west Mexico. In S. T. Evans & J. Pillsbury, Palaces of the Ancient New World. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Dumbarton Oaks Publications.

Nelson, B. A. (2003). A place of continued importance: The abandonment of Epiclassic La Quemada. In T. Inomata & R. W. Webb (Eds.), The archaeology of settlement abandonment in Middle America (pp. 77-89). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.

Research Interests

Archaeology of Mesoamerica and the US Southwest; long-distance connections among ancient societies, processes of social change in frontiers; coupled social and environmental change.

Publications
  • Freeman, Jacob, John M. Anderies, Andrea Torvinen and Ben A. Nelson. Crop Specialization, Exchange and Robustness in a Semi-arid Environment. Human Ecology (2014).
  • Nelson, Ben A., Adrian S. Z. Chase, and Michelle Hegmon. Transformative Relocation in the U.S. Southwest and Mesoamerica. Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association (2014).
  • Elliott, Michelle Fisher, Christopher T. Nelson, Ben A. Molina Garza, Roberto S. Collins, Shawn K. Pearsall, Deborah M. Climate, agriculture, and cycles of human occupation over the last 4,000 years in southern Zacatecas, Mexico. Quaternary Research (2010).
  • Nelson, B. A. Archaeology and Conflict: Questions for Scientific Organizations. Forum Archaeologiae (2010).
  • Somerville, Andrew S. Nelson, Ben A. Knudson, Kelly J. Isotopic investigation of pre-Hispanic macaw breeding in Northwest Mexico. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology (2010).
  • Nelson, Ben A. The Connected World of the Mimbres. Mimbres Lives and Landscapes (2010).
  • Elliott, M., B. A. Nelson and C. S. Fisher. Vinculando la historia de asentamiento con la evolución socio-ecológica del paisaje en Mesoamérica septentrional: una perspectiva desde el sur de Zacatecas. Espaciotiempo: Revista Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades (2009).
  • Nelson, Ben A. La Quemada: Centro Religioso Prespánico y Ciudad Real de Zacatecas, Centro Minero Colonia. Journal of Cultural Symbiosis (2009).
  • . . Review of: Triple book review - (1) La Gran Chichimeca: El Lugar de las Rocas Secas; (2) Becoming Aztlan: Mesoamerican Influence in the Greater Southwest, AD 1200-1500; (3) Signs of the Casas Grandes Shamans (2009).
  • Anderies, John M. Nelson, Ben A. Kinzig, Ann P. Analyzing the Impact of Agave Cultivation on Famine Risk in Arid Prehispanic Northern Mexico. Human Ecology (2008).
  • Pérez, Ventura R. Nelson, Ben A. Martin, Debra L. Veneration or Violence? A Study of Variations in Human Bone Modification at La Quemada. Social Violence in the Prehispanic American Southwest (2008).
  • Nelson, Ben A. The Crafting of Places: Mesoamerican Monumentality in Cerros de Trincheras and Other Hilltop Sites. Enduring Borderlands Traditions: Trincheras Sites in Time, Space, and Society (2007).
  • Wells, E. Christian Nelson, Ben A. Ritual Pilgrimage and Material Transfers in Prehispanic Northwest Mexico. Mesoamerican Ritual Economy (2007).
  • Nelson, Ben A. Mesoamerican Objects and Symbols in Chaco Canyon Contexts. The Archaeology of Chaco Canyon: An 11th Century Pueblo Regional Center (2006).
  • Nelson, Ben A,Crider, Destiny. Posibles Pasajes Migratorios en el Norte de México y el Suroeste de los Estados Unidos Durante el Epiclásico y el Postclásico. Reacomodos Demográficos del Clásico al Posclásico en el Centro de México (2005).
  • Nelson, Ben. Relatoría del Simposio: Mito y Ritual en la Periferia Septentrional de Mesoamérica. (2005).
  • Christian Wells, E (Author) ,Nelson, Ben A (Author) . La Cerámica y la Concha del Período Clásico en el Valle del Malpaso, Zacatecas. Bienes Estragéticos del Antiguo Occidente de México: Producción e Intercambio (2004).
  • Martin, Debra L (Author) ,Nelson, Ben A (Author) ,Perez, Ventura R (Author) . Patrones de Modificación en Huesos Humanos de La Quemada, Zacatecas: Hallazgos Preliminares. Perspectiva Tafonómica: Evidencias de Alteraciones en Restos Oseos del México Prehispánico (2004).
  • Nelson, Ben A (Author) . Current and Future Directions in the Archaeology of Northwest Mexico. Surveying the Archaeology of Northwest Mexico (2004).
  • Nelson, Ben A (Author) . Elite Residences in West Mexico. Ancient Palaces of the New World: Form, Function, and Meaning (2004).
  • Ben Nelson. A Place of Continued Importance: The Abandonment of Epiclassic La Quemada. In The Archaeology of Settlement Abandonment in Middle America, edited by T. Inomata and R. W. Webb (2003).
  • M.C. Nelson, M. Hegmon, K.W. Kintigh, A.P. Kinzig, B.A. Nelson, J.M. Anderies, D.A. Abbott, K.A. Spielmann, S.E. Ingram, M.A. Peeples, S. Kulow, C.A. Strawhacker, C. Meega. Long-term Vulnerability and Resilience: Three Examples from Archaeological Study in the Southwestern US and Northern Mexico. Living with the Dangers of Sudden Environmental Change (0).
Research Activity
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 337Pyramids and Hieroglyphs
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Summer 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 792Research
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 337Pyramids and Hieroglyphs
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 592Research
ASB 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Summer 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 792Research
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 337Pyramids and Hieroglyphs
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Fall 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 337Pyramids and Hieroglyphs
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASM 592Research
ASB 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Spring 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 337Pyramids and Hieroglyphs
ASM 484Internship
ASB 484Internship
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASM 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASM 592Research
ASB 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Fall 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 337Pyramids and Hieroglyphs
ASM 484Internship
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASM 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 497Honors Colloquium
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 537Topics/Mesoamerican Archaeolog
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASM 592Research
ASB 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Spring 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 484Internship
ASB 484Internship
ASM 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASM 493Honors Thesis
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 592Research
ASB 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Fall 2013
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 337Pre-Hispanic Civil/Mid America
ASM 484Internship
ASB 484Internship
ASM 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASM 493Honors Thesis
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 592Research
ASB 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Spring 2013
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 484Internship
ASB 484Internship
ASM 492Honors Directed Study
ASM 493Honors Thesis
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 592Research
ASB 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Presentations
  • Ben A. Nelson. Southwestern US-Mesoamerican Connections: What We Know and Don’t Know. 21st Annual Symposium of the Precolumbian Society of Washington, D.C (Sep 2014).
  • Ben A. Nelson, Nora Rodríguez Zariñán, Nicola Strazicich, and Andrea Torvinen. Cerámica pseudo-cloisonné en La Quemada: identidad, intercambio y práctica ritual. La Cerámica con Decoración al Cloisonné: Cronología, Distribución y Variabilidad (Jul 2014).
  • Ben A. Nelson. Aplicaciones arqueológicas de la dendrocronología: un futuro prometedor. National Science Foundation-sponsored "Taller de Dendrocrología." (workshop) (Jun 2014).
  • Andrea Torvinen, Ben A. Nelson, Chloé Pomédio and Nora Rodriguez Zariñán. Developing regional chronologies using ceramic metatypologies: An example from Northwest Mexico. 79th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (Apr 2014).
  • Ben A. Nelson. Connecting the American Southwest and Mesoamerica: A Ritual Economy. Archaeology Café, Archaeology Southwest, Tucson, May 7, 2013 (May 2013).
  • Ben A. Nelson. Connectivity and Resilience in the Ancient Americas, 400-1400 CE. Brown Bag Colloquium, Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University (May 2013).
  • Andrea Torvinen, Michelle Hegmon, Matthew Peeples, Keith W. Kintigh, and Ben A. Nelson. Assessing the Role of Diversity in the Resilience of Social-Ecological Systems in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. 78th Annual Meesting of the Society for American Archaeology, Honolulu, Hawaii (Apr 2013).
  • Ben A. Nelson. Discussion. Symposium entitled, "Turquoise . . .SAA, Honolulu, Hawaii (Apr 2013).
  • Ben A. Nelson. Discussion. Symposium entitled, Differentiated Practices in High Places Across the US-Mexico Borderlands, at the (Apr 2013).
  • Ben A. Nelson. Discussion. Symposium, Differentiated Practices. . . US-Mexico Borderlands, SAA, Honolulu (Apr 2013).
  • Ben A. Nelson. Hierarchy of a Collective Sort: Wirárika Models of Governance for Prehispanic La Quemada, Zacatecas, Mexico. Archaeological Interactions. University of British Columbia Dept. of Anthropology (Mar 2013).
  • Nelson, Ben A. Power, Distance, and Mesoamerican-US Southwestern Interaction. Colloquium, Department of Anthropology, University of California San Diego (Jun 2012).
  • Ben A Nelson, Adrian Chase and Michelle Hegmon. Comparative Landscapes: Resilience, Rigidity, and Path Dependence In the American Southwest and Mesoamerica. Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Montreal, Quebec (Nov 2011).
  • Cleland, Robin, and Ben A. N elson. Resource Depletion and Food Supply at La Quemada: A Zooarchaeological Approach. 75th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Sacramento, Calif (Apr 2011).
  • Nelson, Ben A. Copper, Chocolate, and Cloisonné at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico: Foreign Relations and Local Politics. Public lecture (Dec 2010).
  • Nelson. Discussant for the Session, "Recent Investigations on the Archaeology of Northwest Mexico". 75th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, St. Louis, Missouri (Apr 2010).
  • Nelson, Ben A. Neurath, Johannes Kantor, Loni. Monumentality as a Social Product. 75th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, St. Louis, Missouri (Apr 2010).
  • Elliott, M., B. A. Nelson, C. T. Fisher, R. S. Molina Garza, S. K. Collins and D. Pearsall. Long-term human ocupation and landscape change in the Malpaso Valley, Zacatecas, Mexico. 30me. Rencontre Internationales d'Archéologie e d'Histoire d'Antibes, Antibes, France (Oct 2009).
  • 2009 Nelson, B. A. Introducción a unos estudios en La Quemada: El papel del los modelos formales. Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, Unidad de Académica de Antropología, Zacatecas, México (May 2009).
  • Kantor, Loni and Ben A. Nelson. Archaeological Potential of a Huichol Landscape, April 22-26, 2009. 74th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Atlanta, Georgia (Apr 2009).
  • Somerville, Andrew S., Ben A. Nelson and Kelly J. Knudson. Pre-Hispanic Aviculture at Paquime: Carbon and Oxygen Isotope Analysis of Macaw Bone Carbonate. 74th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Atlanta, Georgia (Apr 2009).
  • Nelson, Ben A. Nelson, Ben A. Poder y distancia: hacia modelos de las relaciones prehispánicas entre el noroeste de México y el suroeste de los EE.UU., Mexico, March 2, 2009. Research colloquium, Centro Regional del Instituto Nacional de Antropología, Hermosillo, Son., Mex (Mar 2009).
  • Nelson, Ben A. Un ciclo prehispánico de complejidad social: intercambio, medio ambiente y conflicto en La Quemada, Zacatecas, 500-900 DC, January 29, 2009. Public lecture, Museo Regional de Nayarit, Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico (Jan 2009).
  • Nelson, Ben A. A Cycle of Social Complexity in Arid Northern Mexico, 500-900 C.E. Lecture presented to the Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada-Las Vegas (May 2008).
  • Nelson, Ben A. Kinzig, Ann P. Anderies, John M. A Portfolio Approach to Crop Vulnerability in Prehispanic Northern Mexico. Conference entitled, "Resilience 2008," Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden (Apr 2008).
  • Nelson, Ben A. Kinzig, Ann P. Martin, Debra L. Anderies, John M. A Demographic Model for the Commemoration of Warriors in a Northern Mexican Ceremonial Center. 73rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (Mar 2008).
  • Turkon, Paula Elliott, Michelle Nelson, Ben A. Food Production and the Development of Elite Control in the Malpaso Valley. 73rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, B.C (Mar 2008).
  • Elliott, Michelle Nelson, Ben A. Fisher, Christopher S. Human Occupation and Desertification in the Malpaso Valley, Zacatecas, Mexico. 73rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, B.C (Mar 2008).
  • Nelson, Ben. Making and Using Distant Connections at La Quemada, Zacatecas, in a Toltec World. 70th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Juan, Puerto Rico (Apr 2006).
  • Nelson, Ben. Urbanism Beyond the City: La Quemada, Zacatecas. Fourth Meeting of the Project of Investigation on Urbanization in Mesoamerica, Penn State U (Sep 2005).
  • Nelson, Ben. Evidencia Arqueológica de las Prácticas de Almacenamiento en La Quemada, Zacatecas. Conference, Centre Francaise d'Études Mexicaines y Centraméricaines, Mexico City (Jun 2005).
  • Nelson, Ben. Monumentalizing the House in Ancient Zacatecas, Mexico. 69th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (Apr 2005).
  • Nelson, Ben. Discussant, session entitled, "Ancient Technology and Complex Societies". 70th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Salt Lake City (Apr 2005).
  • Nelson, Ben. Discussion of the symposium entitled "PreColumbian Interaction Between Mesoamerica and the Southeast". 69th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Montreal (Apr 2005).
  • Nelson, Ben. Relación (discussion) of the conference entitled, 'Mito y ritual en la periferia septentrional de Mesoamérica'. Sponsored by Instituto Nacional de Antropologia & Gobierno del Estado de Zacatecas (May 2004).
  • Nelson, Ben. An Interdisciplinary Approach to Landscape Evolution in the Malpaso Valley, Zacatecas, Mexico. 68th Annnual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology
  • Nelson, Ben. Survey in Malpaso Valley, Zacatecas, Mexico. 68th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology
  • Nelson, Ben, Anderies, John, Kinzig, Ann. Agave as Infrastructure: Vulnerability and Crop Diversity in Northern Mexico. Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington, D.C
Service
  • Archaeological Research Insitute Task Force, Member (2014 - Present)
  • Teotihuacan Task Force, Chair (2014 - Present)
  • Americae: la Revista Europea de la Arqueología Americanista, Editorial board member (2012 - Present)
  • Americae: la Revista Europea de la Arqueología Americanista, Member, editorial board (2012 - Present)
  • Americae: la Revista Europea de la Arqueología Americanista, Member, editorial board (2012 - Present)
  • School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Coordinator, Latin American Initiatives (2007 - Present)
  • School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Coordinator, Latin American Initiatives (2007 - Present)
  • School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Member, Museum Committee (2006 - Present)
  • Promotion and Tenure Committee for nomination of Richard Toon for promotion to Research Professor., Chair (2014 - 2014)
  • Phoenix Art Museum, Latin American Art Association, Board member (2012 - 2014)
  • SHESC, Chair, Archaeology Search Committee (2012 - 2013)
  • SHESC, Chair, Personnel Committee (2011 - 2013)
  • American Anthropological Association, Presdent, Archaeology Division (2009 - 2011)
  • American Anthropological Association, President, Archaeology Division (2009 - 2011)
  • School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Chair, Colloquium Committee (2009 - 2010)
  • American Anthropological Association, Presdent-Elect, Archaeology Division (2007 - 2009)
  • School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Member, Museum Committee (2006 - 2009)
  • Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Reviewed book manuscript (2008 - 2008)
  • School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Associate Director (2004 - 2008)
  • SHESC, Associate Director (2006 - 2007)
  • SHESC, Member, Executive Committee (2006 - 2007)
  • SHESC, Member, Museum Committee (2006 - 2007)
  • Loyola University Chicago Department of Anthropology, Reviewed promotion case (2007 - 2007)
  • University of Arizona Department of Anthropology, Reviewed case for promotion and tenure (2007 - 2007)
  • University of Colorado Boulder Department of Anthropology, Reviewed promotion case (2007 - 2007)
  • Center for latin American Research, Member, Advisory Board (2006 - 2007)
  • Septennial Review Committee, Member (2005 - 2007)
  • Department of Anthropology, Associate Chair (2004 - 2007)
  • Latin American Antiquity, Member, Editoral Advisory Committee (2003 - 2006)
  • Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, Mexico, Reviewed archaeology program (2006 - 2006)
  • Governance Redesign Committee, Chair (2005 - 2006)
  • Southwest Heritage Foundation Research Committee, Bluff, Utah, Member (2003 - 2006)
  • National Geographic Society, Reviewer (2005 - 2005)
  • National Science Foundation, Reviewer (2005 - 2005)
  • Search - Ancient Urban Specialist, Chair (2004 - 2005)
  • Search -Center Latin American Studies Director, Member (2004 - 2005)
  • Space and Renovations Committee, Member (2004 - 2005)
  • Alumni Relations Committee, Chair (2000 - 2004)
  • ASU Anthropology, Editor (2003)
  • Centre Nacional de la Recherche Scientifique, Université de Paris, Nanterre, Reviewer for book publication (2003)
  • Department of Anthropology, Acting Chair (2003)
  • Department of Anthropology, Associate Chair (2003)
  • National Science Foundation, Reviewer (2003)
  • Planning Committee, Member (2003)
  • Programa de Maestría en Arqueología, Colegio de Michoacán, Zamora, México, Program Reviewer (2003)