Wesley D. Stoner
J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences
Wes Stoner is an archaeologist who entered the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arkansas in 2014. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Kentucky in 2011 and comes to us from the Archaeometry Laboratory at the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR). Supported by numerous grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Geographic Society (NGS), the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Archaeology, Inc (FAMSI), and others, Wes explores the role of human interaction systems in the evolution of cultural complexity. The development of human societies from mobile foragers to complex states and empires was accompanied by increasing levels of intergroup social, economic, and political connectivity. He brings together archaeology and methods developed in the physical sciences to reconstruct human relationships in the past that would otherwise remain invisible to us today.
Wes's primary region of research is Mesoamerica, one of the six regions of the world where ancient civilization developed independently. He has conducted archaeological field work in southern Veracruz on the Gulf Coast of Mexico and in the central Mexican highlands. His most recent field work is focused on a small village site called Altica that is the oldest known site in the Teotihuacan Valley (~1250-850 BC). This region later hosted Mesoamerica's most populous city, Teotihuacan (~AD 1-650). Wes's research at Altica aims to understand the social, political, and economic foundations that led to the later evolution of such a large and socially complex city.
As the project in the Teotihuacan Valley winds down, Wes is turning his attention to intensive agricultural practices during the Classic period (AD 200-800) Gulf lowlands. In the wetlands of southern Veracruz, ancient peoples dug field-and-canal systems to irrigate and/or drain their agricultural fields. This is an ingenious system that made peoples more resilient to annual fluctuations in rainfall and it extended the growing season making harvest of at least one extra crop per year possible. Ancient peoples dug these systems over thousands of acres of land. Using high-resolution elevation data we can model water flow within the fields and simulate the adaptability of the system with different rain fall models. We can also compare the location of the fields to both residences and monumental architecture to understand the mechanisms by which people of status appropriated agricultural surplus to support themselves and ritual feasts that they coordinated.
Ph.D. University of Kentucky