Linda M. Nicholas

From Observatory

Screenshot 2023-01-29 at 11.12.22 PM.png
Linda M. Nicholas
Adjunct Curator of Anthropology

Linda M. Nicholas is an adjunct curator of anthropology at the Negaunee Integrative Research Center at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois.

Latest by this author

Linda M. Nicholas is an adjunct curator of anthropology at the Negaunee Integrative Research Center at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois.

Linda M. Nicholas has done extensive archaeological work in Oaxaca, Mexico over four decades. Linda’s early work focused on studies of land use and agriculture in the Valley of Oaxaca, and she also helped supervise 10 years of excavations at El Palmillo, a large hilltop terrace site in the eastern Valley of Oaxaca. A talented cartographer and photographer, Linda is responsible for the expedition's digital images and maps.

Archaeological Institute of America, Volume 55, Number 5. September/October 2002.

Publications by this author
Co-authors: Anne P. Underhill, Fengshi Luan, Gary M. Feinman, Haiguang Yu, Hui Fang | Yale Peabody Museum | October 2022

A comprehensive account of a pioneering archaeological project in the province of Shandong that transformed understandings of regional settlement patterns

From 1995 to 2007, researchers from China and the United States conducted a systematic, full-coverage regional archaeological survey in southeastern Shandong Province, China, covering an area of more than 1,400 square kilometers. This pioneering multiyear international project transformed the archaeological understanding of regional settlement patterns from the Neolithic to the Han period in southeastern Shandong. As an update of the 2012 synthesis published in Chinese, this volume is the most detailed account of the project in English. The team discovered many new sites, including the earliest known Neolithic settlements in the area, and revealed distinctly different regional settlement patterns in the hinterlands of the two largest late Neolithic sites, Liangchengzhen and Yaowangcheng. The book includes field procedures, methods of analysis, and descriptions of major sites generously illustrated with maps as well as photographs of key artifacts and archaeological localities.

Distributed for the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Co-authors: Gary M. Feinman and Heather A. Lapham | University Press of Florida | 2023

In book: Ancient Foodways: Integrative Approaches to Understanding Subsistence and Society (pp.131-151)

How archaeology can shed light on past foodways and social worlds

Through various case studies, Ancient Foodways illustrates how archaeologists can use bioarchaeology, zooarchaeology, archaeobotany, architecture, and other evidence to understand how food acquisition, preparation, and consumption intersect with economics, politics, and ritual. Spanning four continents and several millennia of human history, this volume is a comprehensive and contemporary survey of how archaeological data can be used to interpret past foodways and reconstruct past social worlds.

This volume is organized around four major themes: feasting and politics; sacrifice, ritual, and ancestors; diet, landscape, and health; and integrative methods. Contributors weave together multiple threads of evidence relating to plants, animals, craft production, and human health and reconnect the material remnants with behaviors, practices, and meanings. The case studies show the varied and creative ways that multiple sources of evidence can be used to shed light on past foodways.

Ancient Foodways demonstrates how environmental and cultural factors shaped past subsistence strategies and cooking practices and reveals the role food played in shaping cultural identity and exchange networks, while also examining how food production methods can lead to environmental destruction and the detrimental role of dietary constraints on human health.

Co-author: Gary M. Feinman | University of Arizona Press | August 2022

In book: Pottery Economics in Mesoamerica (pp.184-211)

Pottery is one of the most important classes of artifacts available to archaeologists and anthropologists. Every year, volumes of data are generated detailing ceramic production, distribution, and consumption. How these data can be interpreted in relation to the social and cultural framework of prehistoric societies in Mesoamerica is the subject of this book. Nine chapters written by some of the most well known and respected scholars in the field offer readers an in-depth look at key advances from the past fifteen years. These scholars examine ethnoarchaeological studies and the Preclassic/Formative, Classic, and Postclassic periods and cover geographic areas from eastern to central Mesoamerica. In a series of case studies, contributors address a range of new and developing theories and methods for inferring the technological, organizational, and social dimensions of pottery economics, and draw on a range of sociopolitical examples. Specific topics include the impacts and costs of innovations, the role of the producer in technological choices, the outcomes when errors in vessel formation are tolerated or rectified, the often undocumented multiple lives and uses of ceramic pieces, and the difficulties associated with locating and documenting ceramic production areas in tropical lowlands. A compelling collection that clearly integrates and synthesizes a wide array of data, this book is the definitive text on pottery economics in Mesoamerica and an important contribution to the fields of anthropology, archaeology, ancient history, and the economics of pre-industrial societies.


Acknowledgments 1 . Conceptual Issues in Mesoamerican Pottery Economics Christopher A. Pool and George J. Bey III 2 . An Ethnoarchaeological Perspective on Local Ceramic Production and Distribution in the Maya Highlands Michael Deal 3 . Why Was the Potter's Wheel Rejected? Social Choice and Technological Change in Ticul, Yucatán, Mexico Dean E. Arnold, Jill Huttar Wilson, and Alvaro L. Nieves 4 . Ceramic Production at La Joya, Veracruz: Early Formative Techno Logics and Error Loads Philip J. Arnold III 5 . Blanco Levantado: A New World Amphora George J. Bey III 6 . Pottery Production and Distribution in the Gulf Lowlands of Mesoamerica Barbara L. Stark 7 . Household Production and the Regional Economy in Ancient Oaxaca: Classic Period Perspectives from Hilltop El Palmillo and Valley-Floor Ejutla Gary M. Feinman and Linda M. Nicholas 8 . Pottery Production and Exchange in the Petexbatun Polity, Petén, Guatemala Antonia E. Foias and Ronald L. Bishop 9 . Aztec Otumba, AD 1200--1600: Patterns of the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Ceramic Products Thomas H. Charlton, Cynthia L. Otis Charlton, Deborah L. Nichols, and Hector Neff References Cited About the Contributors Index

EISBN: 978-0-8165-5055-5

SUBJECTS: Sociology, Archaeology

Co-author: Gary M. Feinman | Frontiers in Political Science | April 2022

Most early sedentary villages (c. 1500–500 BCE) in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico, were situated on or near well-watered land. Around 500 BCE, a new hilltop center, Monte Albán, was established at the nexus of the valley's three arms, where agriculture was far riskier due to unreliable rainfall and a dearth of permanent water sources. During the era of its establishment, not only was Monte Albán larger than any earlier community in the region, but many other settlers moved into the rural area around Monte Albán. This marked shift in settlement patterns in the Valley of Oaxaca and the underlying processes associated with the foundation of Monte Albán have long been debated. How can we account for the immigration of people, some likely from beyond the region itself, to an area where they faced greater risks of crop failure? One perspective, reliant on uniform models of premodern states as despotic, viewed the process from a basically top-down lens; leaders coerced subalterns to move near the capital to provide sustenance for the new center. Yet more recent research has found that governance at Monte Albán was generally more collective than autocratic, and productive activities were centered in domestic units and not managed from above. Based on these new empirical foundations, we reassess earlier settlement and land use studies for the Valley of Oaxaca and view this critical transition as initiated through coactive processes in which new institutions were formed and new relations forged. Shifts in defense, ritual, domestic organization, craft production, and exchange all coincided with this episode of growth fostered by joint production, which intensified agrarian yields through increased domestic labor investments.

Co-authors: Gary M. Feinman, Richard E. Blanton, Stephen A. Kowalewski | Cambridge University Press | June 1999

Just after 500 B.C., one of the earliest states in the New World developed in the Valley of Oaxaca, in present-day Mexico. The newly created political institution brought in its wake a profound transformation of society and technology. This book investigates the rich archaeological record of the valley in an attempt to throw light on the causes and consequences of these changes.

Research areas


Have you signed up yet?

We’re building a guide for everyday life, where experts will educate you about our world.