Dr. Marcie L. Venter

Venter and Stela

    Assistant Professor
    Department of Geosciences, Archaeology Program
    337 Blackburn Science Building
    Murray State University
    Murray, KY 42071


I study the dynamics of ancient states and empires, specifically the ways that frontier communities interact with state actors during expansion. My methodological expertise includes ceramic analysis and historical research, and I incorporate remote sensing and other cutting edge technologies in my work. I am especially fascinated by changes that occurred in ancient Mexico during Aztec imperial expansion, and how indigenous, Spanish, and African populations sorted out a new dynamic during the colonial era.

My interests in frontier engagements also extend to the Caribbean, where I have conducted work in Trinidad and Tobago, and where I am planning an archaeological field school in Jamaica (2018-2019 AY). I am also interested in the Contact Era of the Eastern US following the Revolutionary War and migration across the Appalachian frontier.

Other Interests: Human-environmental interactions; Technological Choice and Change; Heritage Management and Tourism; Ethnohistory.

I have recently been named as the Program Editor for the Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association. Visit http://www.americananthro.org/ to learn more about this organization.


  • PhD University of Kentucky (Anthropology)
  • MA University of Kentucky (Anthropology)
  • BA University of Pittsburgh (Anthropology)

Research Regions

Mexico, Ohio Valley, Trans-Mississippi Region, Caribbean,

At present, I am the Principal Investigator of the Matacanela Archaeological Project (National Science Foundation, BCS-1358063), which is examining the transformation of political and economic relationships in the Gulf lowlands of Mesoamerica during a period of pronounced demographic, climatic and environmental change. This research is ongoing and provides opportunities for student participation both abroad and in the US. I am planning new research in Bluefields, Jamaica and Veracruz, Mexico.




Course number Course Title
ANT 140  Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
ARC 150 Introduction to Archaeology
ARC 300 Archaeological Method and Theory
ARC 302/402/510 Archaeological Field Methods (I, II, Advanced)
ANT 320 Human Ecology
ANT 325  Biological Anthropology 
ARC 335 Forensic Archaeology
ANT/ARC 355 Pottery and People
ARC 345 (Coming Soon!) Archaeology of Ancient Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
ARC 360 Historical Archaeology
ARC 389 Archaeology and Political Ecology of Empires

Selected Recent Publications

Venter, Marcie L., Lourdes Budar, Philip J. Arnold III. 2017. El Juego de Pelota, Autoridad y el Colapso Clásico Tardío en la Sierra de los Tuxtlas. In Incidencia, articulación e innovación del conocimiento arqueológico en la Costa del Golfo mesoamericano, edited by Lourdes Budar, Marcie L. Venter, and Sara Ladron de Guevara, pp. 245-268. Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa, Mexico. 

Venter, Marcie L., Neal H. Lopinot, Jeffrey R. Ferguson, and Michael D. Glascock. 2017. Ceramic Production and Interaction in the Northern Range of Trinidad. The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 0:1-21. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15564894.2017.1287140

Venter, Marcie L., and Jennifer A. Rideout. 2017. A System for Classification of Historic Artifacts. MAS Quarterly (April-June):12-20. Missouri Archaeological Society, Missouri State University, Springfield.

 Venter, Marcie L., Carl Shields, and Mauricio Cuevas Ordonez. 2017. Mapping Matacanela: The Complementary Work of Lidar and Topographical Survey in Southern Veracruz, Mexico. Ancient Mesoamerica 1–12. Published online: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ancient-mesoamerica/article/mapping-matacanela-the-complementary-work-of-lidar-and-topographical-survey-in-southern-veracruz-mexico/37715F5F7EE900A64BE7DA2BB70D895B 

 Venter, Marcie L. 2016a. The Aztec Provinces of the Gulf Lowlands. In Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs, edited by Deborah Nichols and Enrique Rodríguez, Chapter 36. Oxford University Press, New York. http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199341962.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199341962-e-44

2016b Colapso Clásico y regeneración Posclásico en la sierra de los Tuxtlas. In Arqueología de Los Tuxtlas: Antiguos paisajes, nuevas miradas, edited by Lourdes Budar and Philip J. Arnold, III. Universidad Veracruzana-Museo Arqueológico de Xalapa (UV-MAX), Mexico.

 Ilahiane, Hsain and Marcie L. Venter. 2016. Introduction: Technologies and the transformation of economies. Economic Anthropology 32:199–202. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/sea2.12064/full

Stark, Barbara L., Matthew A. Boxt, Janine Gasco, Rebecca B. González Lauck, Jessica D. Hedgepeth Balkin, Arthur A. Joyce, Stacie M. King, Charles L. F. Knight, Robert Kruger, Marc N. Levine, Richard G. Lesure, Rebecca Mendelsohn, Marx Navarro-Castillo, Hector Neff, Michael Ohnersorgen, Christopher Pool, L. Mark Raab, Robert Rosenswig, Marcie L. Venter, Barbara Voorhies, David T. Williams, Andrew Workinger. 2016. Economic Growth in Mesoamerica: Obsidian Consumption in the Coastal Lowlands. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 41:263–282. 

Venter, Marcie. L, and Sarah L. Lyon. 2015. Configuring and Commoditizing the Archaeological Landscape: Heritage, Identity and Tourism in the Tuxtla Mountains. In The Legacy of Mesoamerican Ancestors: Archaeological Heritage in and beyond Contemporary Mexico, edited by David S. Anderson, Dylan J. Clark, and J. Heath Anderson. Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association 25:74–82. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apaa.12049/full

Lopinot, Neal H., and Marcie L. Venter. 2014. La Reconnaissance Site, Trinidad. In The Encyclopedia of Caribbean Archaeology, edited by Basil A. Reid and R. Grant Gilmore III. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

Venter, Marcie L. 2013a.  Quiahuiztlan. In Conflict in the Early Americas: An Encyclopedia of the Spanish Empire's Aztec, Incan, and Mayan Conquests, edited by Rebecca Seaman. ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, California.

2013b  Totonacs. In Conflict in the Early Americas: An Encyclopedia of the Spanish Empire's Aztec, Incan, and Mayan Conquests, edited by Rebecca Seaman. ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, California.

2013c  Zempoala. In Conflict in the Early Americas: An Encyclopedia of the Spanish Empire's Aztec, Incan, and Mayan Conquests, edited by Rebecca Seaman. ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, California.

Ohnersorgen, Michael A., and Marcie L. Venter. 2012.  Aztec Boundary Interactions. In Section 3, Peripheries and Frontiers, Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology, edited by Deborah Nichols and Christopher Pool, pp. 525–535. Oxford University Press, New York. http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195390933.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780195390933-e-37

 Venter, Marcie L. 2012a.  Negotiating Aztec Imperialism: Late Postclassic Ceramic Evidence from Totogal, Veracruz. Mexicon: the Journal of Mesoamerican Studies 34(3):58–63.

2012b  A Reassessment of the Extent of the Eastern Aztec Empire in the Mesoamerican Gulf Lowlands. Ancient Mesoamerica.23(2):235–250. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ancient-mesoamerica/article/a-reassessment-of-the-extent-of-the-eastern-aztec-empire-in-the-mesoamerican-gulf-lowlands/2F83C3BD8230B1CAABC13DD9DA83C30A


Research Interests

Political Economy, Borderland Interactions, Culture Change, Ceramic Ecology, Ethnohistory, Remote Sensing Applications in Archaeology