Dr. Callaghan is an anthropological archaeologist who studies Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican societies in an effort to understand the origins of social complexity. Dr. Callaghan specializes in the study of the ancient Maya with an emphasis on ceramic analysis. His research on ceramics informs the study of how technology and production contribute to changes in social structure.

Dr. Callaghan graduated with his BS (1998) and PhD (2008) from Vanderbilt University. He has published his research in journals such as Ancient Mesoamerica, Latin American Antiquity, Economic Anthropology, and the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. He is co-editor of The Inalienable in the Archaeology of Mesoamerica (with Brigitte Kovacevich). Other publications include contributions to edited volumes that emphasize the study of ancient ceramics and craft production in complex societies including The Maya World, Ancient Maya PotteryGendered Labor in Specialized Economies, and Making Value, Making Meaning: Techné in the Pre-Columbian World. He is author of The Ceramic Sequence of the Holmul Region, Guatemala (with Nina Neivens de Estrada) published by the University of Arizona Press.

He teaches courses for graduate and undergraduate students at UCF in the areas of General Anthropology, Maya Iconography, Ethics in Archaeology, Archaeological Ceramic Analysis, Archaeology and Pseudoscience, and the Anthropology of Walt Disney World, FL.

Research Specialization

Research Interests

I am an anthropological archaeologist who specializes in Mesoamerican complex societies with an analytical focus on ceramic artifacts. Through ceramic analysis I am able to apply humanistic questions to archaeological datasets utilizing methodologies from the natural sciences. My research focuses on the articulation of prehistoric economy, politics, and ritual. My entry into this complex system of material and social relations is ceramic analysis with an emphasis on production technology.

Current Research

My current research elaborates on the articulation of ritual, economy, and politics at the site of Holtun, Guatemala. Holtun is a civic-ceremonial center located in the Peten lakes region of Guatemala occupied from the Middle Preclassic through Late Classic periods (600 BC – AD 900).

One of the objectives of the Holtun project is to determine how households contributed to the development of social inequality during the Preclassic period and what role household activities played in the development of social complexity. Goals of the project include identifying Preclassic-period (600-0 BCE) households and evidence of everyday activities, examining differences between households and how they reflect emerging social inequalities, and recognizing the role of households of all statuses in the emergence of complexity from the Middle to Late Preclassic periods. Principal methods include excavation into domestic and monumental architecture, and analysis of artifacts using both traditional and contemporary approaches including: ceramic and lithic classification, petrography, lithic microwear analysis and replication studies, X-ray Fluorescence, Handheld XRF analysis, stable-isotope analysis of human bone, Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA), and soil geo-chemistry studies.

The Holtun Project has received research funding from the National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society/WAITT Program, American Philosophical Society, and the Missouri University Research Reactor as part of its NSF-subsidy program. Our research has been published in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports and Latin American Antiquity. Research has also been presented at international conferences including the annual meetings for the Society of American Archaeology, Simposio de Investigaciónes Argueológicas en Guatemala, and the South Central Conference on Mesoamerica. We have also presented our research at regional lectures in the U.S. and Guatemala including the Archaeological Institute of America in Jacksonville, FL; Institute for Maya Studies in Miami, FL; the UCF College of Science Distinguished Lecture Series in Orlando, FL; and the Museo Popol Vuh in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

The project is generating data for multiple Masters and PhD dissertation theses, as well as advanced undergraduate Honors theses.

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