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Article title: Gordon Willey


Article ID: 9780199766567-0137
Article author(s): Damien B. Marken
Publishing Group: Reference-US
Table of Contents:
Introduction
Historical Overviews, Festschrifts, and
Collected Works
Archaeological Method and Theory
Culture History
Ceramic Analysis and Regional
Chronologies
Settlement Patterns
Comparative and Regional Syntheses of
New World Civilizations
Iconography, Civilization, and
Horizon Styles
Archaeology of the Southeastern United
States
South American Archaeology
Regional Syntheses
Archaeology of the Intermediate Area
Maya Archaeology
Summary Articles, Overviews,
and Syntheses
Maya Social Organization and
Settlement Patterns
External Contacts and the Classic
Maya Collapse
Belize Valley
Petexbatun
Copan and the Southeast Maya
Periphery
History of Archaeology

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GORDON WILLEY

INTRODUCTION
Gordon Randolph Willey (b. 1913–d. 2002) was an American archaeologist best known
for his pioneering studies of New World settlement patterns. His seminal publications on
the Virú Valley in Peru and the Belize Valley in Belize established regional settlement
patterns as a fundamental object of archaeological research. As mentor to nearly three
generations of archaeologists at Harvard University, he was often referred to by
colleagues as the “dean” of New World archaeology during the second half of the 20th
century and was immortalized as the “Great Synthesizer” by Kent Flannery in The Early
Mesoamerican Village (1976). He received his BA (1935) and MA (1936) from the
University of Arizona and his PhD from Columbia University (1942). In 1950 he became
the first Charles P. Bowditch chair of the Department of Anthropology at Harvard
University, where he taught for thirty-six years. Over the course of his career he was
awarded the A. V. Kidder Medal, the Viking Medal, the Huxley Medal, and the Order of
the Quetzal from the Guatemalan government, and honorary doctorates from the
University of New Mexico and Cambridge University. He was a member of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the
American Philosophical Society. Willey was a prolific field investigator, participating in
and/or directing projects across the Americas. He was proud to have published final
reports for every field project he directed prior to his passing. Although Willey conducted
the majority of his fieldwork in Central America (Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Costa
Rica, and Panama), he also pioneered new data collection and analytical methods in
archaeology of the southeastern United States and South America, particularly in regard
to reconstructing and correlating “space-time systematics.” His early research in Florida
remains a keystone of scholarship on Southeastern prehistory, and Prehistoric Settlement
Patterns in the Virú Valley, Peru, published in 1953, is perhaps his most famous
publication, although its immediate impact on South American archaeology was limited.
The projects he directed in the Maya region were large-scale, multiyear, interdisciplinary
endeavors, whose data and results significantly contributed to modern interpretations of
the Classic period (250–950 CE). Although Willey’s early arguments for an intrusive
foreign Terminal Classic presence in the Maya lowlands have proven to be overly
simplistic, the Altar de Sacrificios and Seibal reports remain invaluable contributions to
understanding the chronology and demographic and political history of the Classic
period. Following his investigations in the Pasión River Basin, Willey initiated the
current era of archaeological research at the major Classic site of Copan and its environs,
at the behest of the Honduran government. An important aspect of Willey’s legacy is his
influence on the practice of Americanist archaeology through his students. Willey’s
dedication as a mentor and a teacher is well attested. A true field rat, Willey graduated
scores of well-trained, field-hardened archaeologists, many of whom went on to direct
their own groundbreaking field projects. The diversity of his students’ interests in many
ways reflects the breadth of his contributions to archaeological research and his advocacy
of a holistic approach to reconstructing the past.
HISTORICAL OVERVIEWS, FESTSCHRIFTS, AND COLLECTED WORKS
Willey, along with Robert McC. Adams, is often credited with placing settlement patterns
and household organization at the forefront of archaeological investigation. His emphasis
on reconstructing regional culture histories made him the target of criticism by the New
Archaeology (see also the Oxford Bibliographies article *Processual Archaeology[obo-
9780199766567-0056]*), whose advocates concurrently embraced his contributions to
archaeological method and practice. Sabloff 1994 elaborates on the revolutionary
influence Willey’s settlement pattern approach had on the practice of Maya archaeology.
Four years prior to his retirement, Willey was honored in Leventhal and Kolata 1983 and
Vogt and Leventhal 1983, a massive two-volume collection of innovative research by
former students, many of whom became prominent scholars themselves. Sabloff and Fash
2007 is a posthumous collection of papers that assess Willey’s broad contributions to
Americanist and anthropological archaeology. Fash 2007 and Sabloff 2007 introduce and
conclude Sabloff and Fash 2007, highlighting the impact of Willey’s empirical,
methodological, and theoretical impact on the study of New World prehistory. Prior to
his death in 2002, Willey published two collections of his writings. Willey 1987
exclusively centers on overviews of Maya archaeology. Willey 1990 is a comprehensive
collection of Willey’s publications and includes his later reflections on the relevancy of
each publication in light of subsequent research on each topic.
Fash, William L. 2007. Introduction. In Gordon R. Willey and American archaeology:
Contemporary perspectives. Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff and William L. Fash, 3–14.
Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press. [ISBN: 9780806138053]
This introduction places ten specific publications, whose topics/themes are the subject
of each chapter in the book, within the historical context of Willey’s career.
Leventhal, Richard M., and Alan L. Kolata, eds. 1983. Civilization in the ancient
Americas: Essays in honor of Gordon R. Willey. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of
Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard Univ. [ISBN: 9780826306937]
One of two collected works jointly published in honor of Willey in 1983. All the
authors are former students of Willey’s. Regional focus is nearly balanced between
Mesoamerica and the Andes. Chapter topics are highly diverse and include a historical
overview of Maya studies, material analysis reports, settlement analyses, urbanism, and
empire. Contains a complete bibliography of Willey’s publications (1937–1982).
Sabloff, Jeremy A. 1994. The new archaeology and the ancient Maya. Scientific
American Library 30. New York: Scientific American Library. [ISBN:
9780716750543]
First published in 1990, this text describes the history of Maya archaeology. It cites the
key role of Willey’s settlement pattern studies in altering conceptions of Maya society
and demography in the 1960s. Also describes projects directed by Willey at Altar de
Sacrificios, Seibal, and Copan.
Sabloff, Jeremy A. 2007. Conclusion. In Gordon R. Willey and American archaeology:
Contemporary perspectives. Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff and William L. Fash, 233–
236. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press. [ISBN: 9780806138053]
Short statement on Willey’s legacy that argues his most enduring contribution to
archaeology is ultimately the data he collected, organized, and published.
Sabloff, Jeremy A., and William L. Fash, eds. 2007. Gordon R. Willey and American
archaeology: Contemporary perspectives. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press. [ISBN:
9780806138053]
This volume recognizes Willey’s scholarly and empirical contributions to
archaeological practice and culture history of the New World. Chapters evaluate the
historical context and scholarly impact of ten Willey publications.
Vogt, Evon Z., and Richard M. Leventhal, eds. 1983. Prehistoric settlement patterns:
Essays in honor of Gordon R. Willey. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of
Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard Univ. [ISBN: 9780826306913]
One of two collected works jointly published in honor of Willey in 1983. Authors are
former students and collaborators of Willey’s. Regional focus is predominantly
Mesoamerica, although comparative case studies include South America, China, and
Europe. Themes in settlement archaeology include household studies, community
organization, cities, regional analysis, and method and theory.
Willey, Gordon R. 1987. Essays in Maya archaeology. Albuquerque: Univ. of New
Mexico Press. [ISBN: 9780826309372]
A limited collection of seven previously published articles and book chapters authored
(or coauthored) by Willey. Regionally exclusive to the Maya. Selections are
predominantly synthetic in scope because several are overviews or conclusions to
edited volumes. Foreword by Jeremy Sabloff.
Willey, Gordon R. 1990. New World archaeology and culture history: Collected essays
and articles. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press. [ISBN: 9780826311849]
A comprehensive collection of thirty previously published articles. Selections are wide
ranging in regional and topical breadth. Section headings include “Culture-Historical
and Developmental Syntheses” (thirteen selections), “Patterns in the Data” (eight
selections), “A Priori Hypotheses” (three selections), “Settlement Patterns” (three
selections), “Method and Theory” (two selections), and “Recovery of Ideology” (one
selection). Each section and subsection is prefaced by short introductory comments by
Willey.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL METHOD AND THEORY


Trained during the heyday of the culture-historical approach in American archaeology
and one of its most prominent practitioners, Willey was a target of severe criticism by
“New Archaeologists” for his focus on description and the reconstruction of local cultural
sequences. Ironically, the New Archaeology embraced the study of settlement patterns
that Willey pioneered (see also the Oxford Bibliographies article *Processual
Archaeology[obo-9780199766567-0056]*). Willey’s settlement research, particularly the
refined methods and interpretive framework employed in the Belize Valley (see Willey,
et al. 1965, cited under *Belize Valley*), brought a regional perspective to how
archaeologists conceived political organization and human-environmental interactions.
The Belize Valley project was especially influential in Maya archaeology. Its focus on
the humbler portions of Maya society reoriented research in the region away from
isolated ceremonial centers and contributed to changing perceptions of Classic-period
(250–950 CE) demography. It also introduced the type-variety-mode method to Maya
archaeologists, which has subsequently become the foundation of ceramic analysis in the
region.
Culture History
Willey has been both lauded and criticized for his ability to synthesize available
archaeological data from numerous regions of the New World. Much of Willey’s
publications concerned “space-time systematics”—reconstructing cultural sequences and
interaction spheres by tracking variations in material culture distribution, as outlined in
Willey 1953. Watson, et al. 1971 criticizes the space-time focus of culture history as
mere description, although this critique tends to oversimplify the goals and contributions
of culture history research. Willey 1977 recognizes several points of agreement between
cultural history and processual approaches to the study of the past. With his longtime
colleague Philip Phillips, Willey attempted to operationalize cultural-history data
collection methods, analytical techniques, and interpretive frameworks in two American
Anthropologist articles, Phillips and Willey 1953 and Willey and Phillips 1955,
culminating in a full-length book, Willey and Phillips 1958. Though soon overshadowed
theoretically by the New Archaeology, these publications significantly influenced data
collection and analytical methods in American archaeology (see also the Oxford
Bibliographies article *Processual Archaeology[obo-9780199766567-0056]*). Leventhal
and Cornavaca 2007 discusses the historical and scholarly context of these works.
Leventhal, Richard M., and Deborah Erdman Cornavaca. 2007. Willey and Phillips: The
social context and maturation of American archaeology. In Gordon R. Willey and
American archaeology: Contemporary perspectives. Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff and
William L. Fash, 61–71. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press. [ISBN: 9780806138053]
Looks at the historical and academic context that precipitated Willey and Phillips 1958,
including McCarthyism and Walter Taylor’s critique of American archaeology.
Phillips, Philip, and Gordon R. Willey. 1953. *Method and theory in American
archeology: An operational basis for culture-historical
integration[http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1953.55.5.02a00030/pdf]*.
American Anthropologist 55.5: 615–633.
Part 1 of two (see also Willey and Phillips 1955). In many ways a response to the
critiques of American archaeology by Clyde Kluckhohn (“The Conceptual Structure in
Middle American Studies,” in The Maya and Their Neighbors, edited by Clarence L.
Hay, Ralph L. Linton, Samuel K. Lothrop, Harry L. Shapiro, and George C. Vaillant
[New York: Appleton-Century, 1940] pp. 41–51) and Walter W. Taylor (A Study of
Archaeology [Menasha, WI: American Anthropological Association, 1948), Phillips
and Willey outline methods and frameworks for describing, organizing, and interpreting
archaeological data. Focuses on analytical units and issues of scale, chronology, and the
terms “horizon” and “tradition.”
Watson, Patty Jo, Steven A. LeBlanc, and Charles L. Redman. 1971. Explanation in
archaeology: An explicitly scientific approach. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.
[ISBN: 9780231035446]
This summary treatment of practicing scientific archaeology is a watershed of the New
Archaeology. In their critique of culture history approaches to studying the past, the
authors single out Sabloff and Willey’s 1967 focus on historical reconstruction over
explanation and process (chapter 2); they also briefly cite Willey in discussing
settlement pattern research. Chapter 5 critiques the historicism of the typology and
classification schemes in Willey and Phillips 1958.
Willey, Gordon R. 1953. Archeological theories and interpretation: New World. In
Anthropology today: An encyclopedic inventory. Edited by Alfred L. Kroeber, 361–385.
Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
Outlines the tasks of archaeology: the ordering of data in time and space and placing
these data in context. Also discusses typology, seriation, and stratigraphy. Concludes
with an assessment of a variety of then-current reconstructions of New World
prehistory.
Willey, Gordon R. 1977. A consideration of archaeology. In Special issue: Discoveries
and interpretations: Studies in contemporary scholarship. Daedalus: Journal of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences 106.3: 81–95.
Written in response to the New Archaeology, Willey notes his agreements with the
New Archaeology’s systemic view of culture change. Discusses the late 1960s to early
1970s Binford/Finely debate over cultural context and the role of analogy in
archaeological interpretation. Available
*online[http://www.jstor.org/stable/20024495]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R., and Philip Phillips. 1955. *Method and theory in American
archeology II: Historical-developmental
interpretation[http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1955.57.4.02a00060/pdf]*.
American Anthropologist 57.4: 723–819.
Part 2 of two (see also Phillips and Willey 1953). This follow-up article attempts to
apply the methods and frameworks for describing, organizing, and interpreting
archaeological data articulated in Phillips and Willey 1953 to the available empirical
data for the development of New World cultures.
Willey, Gordon R., and Philip Phillips. 1958. Method and theory in American
archaeology. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
Responding to the critiques of American archaeology in the chapter by Clyde
Kluckhohn in The Maya and Their Neighbors (New York: Appleton-Century, 1940)
and by Walter W. Taylor in A Study of Archaeology (Menasha, WI: American
Anthropological Association, 1948), this volume is a treatise on the methods and
frameworks for describing, organizing, and interpreting archaeological data under the
culture-historical approach. Intended to define the discipline, but was “upstaged” by the
New Archaeology four years later. Reprinted as recently as 1970.

Ceramic Analysis and Regional Chronologies


Willey’s publications on the analysis of archaeological ceramics tended to center on the
construction of local and regional chronological sequences across the Americas. Beyond
his important contributions to methods of ceramic analysis in the southeastern United
States, such as Willey 1939 and Willey and Phillips 1944, , and the Maya area (including
Smith, et al. 1960; Willey 1976; and Willey, et al. 1967), Willey 1945 (cited under
*Archaeology of the Southeastern United States*), Willey 1954, and Willey 1964 also
played a critical role in developing the concepts of “horizon” and “tradition” in
archaeology. Willey 1953 (cited under *Comparative and Regional Syntheses of New
World Civilizations*), Willey 1958, Willey and Gifford 1961, and Willey and Woodbury
1942 (cited under *Archaeology of the Southeastern United States*) were instrumental to
aligning and constructing regional ceramic sequences across the New World.
Smith, Robert E., Gordon R. Willey, and James C. Gifford. 1960. The type-variety
concept as a basis for the analysis of Maya pottery. American Antiquity 25.3: 330–340.
Introduces the type-variety-mode classification systems to the analysis of Maya
ceramics. Identifies the attributes and criteria to be used in defining ceramic types and
varieties in the Maya area. Available *online[http://www.jstor.org/stable/277516]*
through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1939. Ceramic stratigraphy in a Georgia village site. American
Antiquity 5.2: 140–147.
Reconstruction of the chronology of the Ocmulgee site.
Available *online[[http://www.jstor.org/stable/275740]* through purchase or by
subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1954. Tradition trend in ceramic development. American Antiquity
20.1: 9–14.
Examines style trends in the ceramic decorations from the southeastern and
southwestern United States and Peru. Available *online[http://www.
jstor.org/stable/276715]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1958. Estimated correlations and dating of South and Central
American culture sequences. American Antiquity 23.4: 353–378.
Early attempt at a culture-historical synthesis and correlation of the relative
chronologies for Central and South America. Available *online[http://www.
jstor.org/stable/276486]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1964. Diagram of a pottery tradition. In Process and pattern in
culture: Essays in honor of Julian H. Steward. Edited by Robert A. Manners, 156–174.
Chicago: Aldine.
Describes changes in the “North Peruvian Plastic Pottery Tradition” and postulates
causes for their variation. Mainly theoretical discussion with little empirical backing.
Republished as recently as 2007 (New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction).
Willey, Gordon R. 1976. Foreword. In Prehistoric pottery analysis and the ceramics of
Barton Ramie in the Belize valley. Edited by James C. Gifford, vii–viii. Memoirs of the
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 18. Cambridge, MA: Peabody
Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard Univ.
Short introduction to this tome on the ceramics from the Belize Valley, briefly
describing James Gifford’s impact on the analysis of Maya ceramics.
Willey, Gordon R., T. Patrick Culbert, and Richard E. W. Adams. 1967. Maya lowland
ceramics: A report from the 1965 Guatemala City Conference. American Antiquity
32.3: 289–315.
A summary review of a 1965 conference on Maya ceramics. Outlines and describes the
major regional ceramic spheres of the Maya area. Available *online[http://www.
jstor.org/stable/2694659]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R., and James C. Gifford. 1961. Pottery of the Holmul I style from
Barton Raime, British Honduras. In Essays in pre-Columbian art and archaeology.
Edited by Samuel K. Lothrop, 152–170. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.
Description of early ceramics recovered from Barton Ramie in the Belize Valley.
Willey, Gordon R., and Philip Phillips. 1944. Negative-painted pottery from Crystal
River, Florida. American Antiquity 10.2: 173–185.
Description of ceramics from the Florida coast.
Settlement Patterns
Willey’s pioneering research in prehistoric settlement patterns is perhaps the most
enduring and far-reaching aspect of his legacy. While Willey 1953 (cited under *South
American Archaeology*) is generally recognized as the first study of its kind in the
Americas, the Belize Valley project as a whole explicitly targeted settlement patterns and
represented a radical advance in the expected potential of settlement data in interpreting
the social, economic, and political interrelationships between different sites and the
physical landscape, as described in Ashmore 2007 (cited under *Belize Valley*); Billman
1999; Willey 1956; and Willey, et al. 1965 (p. 15, cited under *Belize Valley*). Sabloff
and Ashmore 2001 (p. 14) describe settlement pattern studies as the most important
theoretical and methodological innovation in post–World War II archaeology. Willey’s
work was at the heart of this innovation; soon after the Belize valley research was
published, settlement pattern studies became a critical facet of the New Archaeology (see
also the Oxford Bibliographies article *Processual Archaeology[obo-9780199766567-
0056]*). Willey’s settlement pattern studies fundamentally reoriented the spatial focus of
archaeological research and interpretation from its earlier emphasis on specific sites in
isolation (generally monumental in nature) to a regional focus on the relationships
between various sites to one another. Throughout much of his work, for example Willey
2005, Willey argued that to learn about the relationships between settlement and society,
archaeologists must examine all aspects of the archaeological record, not only
architectural and landscape constructions. In this sense, the study of settlement patterns
was not simply an “approach” or subfield of archaeology but the essential endeavor of the
field. Settlement pattern studies profoundly revised investigation of several topics of
anthropological interest that became cornerstones of the New Archaeology. The
contributions to Braidwood and Willey 1962 explore the connections between the
development and organization of food production and the rise of cities cross-culturally,
while Willey 1962 focuses on these relationships specifically in Mesoamerica. The links
between land use, settlement distribution, and social organization remained a focal point
of Willey’s later work, as illustrated in Willey 1978 (cited under *Maya Archaeology:
Summary Articles, Overviews, and Syntheses*). Willey 1979 examines the phenomenon
of “new” cities established in previously unoccupied locations, such as Monte Alban,
Oaxaca (a historical example would be St. Petersburg, Russia). Santley 1980 disagrees
with the possibility of these “disembedded” capitals.
Billman, Brian R. 1999. Settlement pattern research in the Americas: Past, present, and
future. In Settlement pattern studies in the Americas: Fifty years since Virú. Edited by
Brian R. Billman and Gary M. Feinman, 1–5. Smithsonian Series in Archaeological
Inquiry. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. [ISBN: 9781560988267]
A historical review of settlement archaeology in the Americas, inspired by Willey’s
Virú Valley research.
Braidwood, Robert J., and Gordon R. Willey, eds. 1962. Courses toward urban life:
Archaeological considerations of some cultural alternates. Papers presented at a
symposium held at the European headquarters of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for
Anthropological Research at Burg Wartenstein, Austria, on 3–11 July 1960. Viking
Fund Publications in Anthropology 32. Chicago: Aldine. [class:conference-proceeding]
Compilation of papers presented in 1960. Willey coauthored the introduction and
conclusion and authored a chapter on Mesoamerica. The cross-cultural volume
examines the relations among sedentism, food production, and urbanization. Reprinted
as recently as 1968.
Sabloff, Jeremy A., and Wendy Ashmore. 2001. An aspect of archaeology’s recent past
and its relevance in the new millennium. In Archaeology at the millennium: A
sourcebook. Edited by Gary M. Feinman and T. Douglas Price, 11–32. New York:
Kluwer Academic/Plenum. [ISBN: 9780306464522]
Historical consideration of the impact of settlement pattern research on archaeology and
its relation to current trends within the discipline.
Santley, Robert S. 1980. Disembedded capitals reconsidered. American Antiquity 45.1:
132–145.
Reply to Willey 1979. Elaborates on his and Sanders’s earlier critique of the concept.
More-recent comparative research by Alexander H. Joffe (“Disembedded Capitals in
Western Asian Perspective,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 40.3 (1998):
549–580) supports Willey’s hypothesis. Available *online[http://www.
jstor.org/stable/279667]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R., ed. 1956. Prehistoric settlement patterns in the New World. Viking
Fund Publications in Anthropology 23. New York: Wenner-Gren Foundation for
Anthropological Research.
Compilation of regional summary reviews of settlement pattern data from nineteen
areas of the New World, with the goal of bridging archaeological data and ethnological
perspectives.
Willey, Gordon R. 1962. Mesoamerica. Paper presented at a symposium held at the
European headquarters of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
at Burg Wartenstein, Austria, on 3–11 July 1960. In Courses toward urban life:
Archaeological considerations of some cultural alternates. Edited by Robert J.
Braidwood and Gordon R. Willey, 84–105. Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology
32. Chicago: Aldine. [class:conference-paper]
Summarizes the available settlement pattern data from Mesoamerica from pre-
agricultural times through the Postclassic period. Distinguishes between Central
Mexican urbanism and lowland Maya dispersed settlement patterns. Reprinted as
recently as 1968.
Willey, Gordon R. 1979. The concept of the ‘disembedded capital’ in comparative
perspective. Journal of Anthropological Research 35.2: 123–137.
Comparative examination of “disembedded capitals,” cities founded specifically to
house the political and/or religious institutions of newly established states. Willey
concludes that archaeological data at the time were generally inadequate to confirm or
disprove the comparative model. Available *online[http://www.
jstor.org/stable/3629970]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 2005. Settlement patterns in Americanist archaeology. In Structure
and meaning in human settlements. Edited by Tony Atkin and Joseph Rykwert, 27–34.
Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
[ISBN: 9781931707831]
Published posthumously, Willey’s final synthesis on the subject of settlement patterns
in archaeology. Details the origins of the Virú Valley study and the subsequent
expansion of settlement pattern research in Peru, Mesoamerica, and eventually the rest
of the Americas.
COMPARATIVE AND REGIONAL SYNTHESES OF NEW WORLD
CIVILIZATIONS
A large portion of Willey’s publications concern the regional and continental evaluation
and synthesis of New World archaeological data. These periodic publications built upon
each other by incorporating newly available data to revise and refine regional
chronologies, improving Willey’s reconstructions of regional and macroregional culture
histories. Examples include Willey 1950, Willey 1955b, and Willey 1960b. Willey 1953
and Willey 1955a focus on the role of interregional diffusion in cultural development.
Willey 1960a is a complementary synthesis that examines cultural evolution in the New
World. Willey 1966, Willey 1971, and Willey 1965 are massive regional syntheses of
North America and Mesoamerica, South America and the Intermediate Area, and the
Maya area, respectively. Willey’s syntheses and culture-historical reconstructions were
critical in identifying gaps in archaeological knowledge and guided subsequent research
questions and designs in many regions.
Willey, Gordon R. 1950. Growth trends in New World cultures. In For the dean: Essays
in honor of Byron Cummings on his eighty-fifth birthday, September 20, 1950. Edited
by Erik K. Reed and Dale S. King, 223–248. Tucson, AZ, and Santa Fe, NM: Hohokam
Museums Association and the Southwestern Monuments Association.
A very early attempt at a comparative synthesis of the cultural evolution of
Mesoamerican (Central Mexico and the Maya lowlands) and Andean (north and south
Peruvian coasts) societies.
Willey, Gordon R. 1953. A pattern of diffusion-acculturation. Southwestern Journal of
Anthropology 9.4: 369–384.
Attempts to identify processual patterns in the diffusion of cultural traits in instances of
long-term cultural contact brought about by migration, through a comparative
examination of three cases of invasion/intrusion of peoples into new areas. Available
*online[http://www. jstor.org/stable/3628669]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1955a. The interrelated rise of the native cultures of Middle and South
America. In New interpretations of aboriginal American culture history. Edited by
Anthropological Society of Washington[non-personal], 28–45. Washington, DC:
Anthropological Society of Washington.
Synthesis of evidence of cultural and technological diffusion between Mesoamerica and
South America. Subsequent research has confirmed the diffusion of maize and
metallurgy between the two macroregions, as well as the importance of the
Intermediate Area in the development of ceramic technologies and forms.
Willey, Gordon R. 1955b. *The prehistoric civilizations of nuclear
America[http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1955.57.3.02a00090/pdf]*.
American Anthropologist 57.3: 571–593.
Synthesis of evolutionary and diffusionist perspectives of the development of
civilization in the New World.
Willey, Gordon R. 1960a. Historical patterns and evolution in native New World
cultures. Paper presented at the Univ. of Chicago centennial celebration in November
1959. In Evolution after Darwin. Vol. 2, The evolution of man: Man, culture and
society. Edited by Sol Tax, 111–141. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
[class:conference-paper]
Although targeting the idea of evolution, this article primarily focuses on culture
history of the Americas. Embraces a systemic and evolutionary view of culture change,
though Willey asserts that ideology played an important, though overlooked, role in the
evolution of New World cultures and societies. Reprinted as recently as 1975.
Willey, Gordon R. 1960b. New World prehistory. Science 131.3393: 73–86.
Identifies eight research questions in New World culture history and evaluates their
relevant data sets. Topics range from the peopling of the Americas to the development
of New World civilizations. Available
*online[http://www.sciencemag.org/content/131/3393/73.short]* through purchase or
by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R., ed. 1965. Handbook of Middle American Indians: Archaeology of
southern Mesoamerica. 2 vols. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.
Compilation of regional and material class syntheses of the archaeology of southern
Mesoamerica.
Willey, Gordon R. 1966. An introduction to American archaeology. Vol. 1, North and
Middle America. Prentice-Hall Anthropology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
First of two volumes (see also Willey 1971). A massive and detailed synthesis and
evaluation of North American and Mesoamerican prehistory.
Willey, Gordon R. 1971. An introduction to American archaeology. Vol. 2, South
America. Prentice-Hall Anthropology. Englewood Cliffs., NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Second of two volumes (see also Willey 1966). A detailed synthesis and evaluation of
South American prehistory. Includes a synthesis of the prehistory of the Intermediate
Area.

Iconography, Civilization, and Horizon Styles


Fundamental to Willey’s explanations for New World cultural evolution and interaction
was the analysis of pre-Columbian art, specifically the emergence of “horizon” styles
with narrow temporal but broad spatial distributions. Excellent examples include Willey
1962, Willey 1974, and Willey 1991. Willey 1999 refines these ideas by incorporating
recent theoretical perspectives. Willey 1980 expands the geographic focus of these
arguments to consider the West Indies. The continued application of this approach in
Americanist archaeology is illustrated in Marcus 2007. Later in Willey’s career, Willey
1976 drew attention to the importance of ideology as a driver of change in state-level
societies. The impact of this publication is examined in McAnany 2007. In many ways,
this publication foreshadowed later post-processual perspectives that emphasize the
ideational aspects of material culture.
Marcus, Joyce. 2007. Great art styles and the rise of complex societies. In Gordon R.
Willey and American archaeology: Contemporary perspectives. Edited by Jeremy A.
Sabloff and William L. Fash, 72–104. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press. [ISBN:
9780806138053]
Provides a comparative perspective on the role of art in the development of chiefdom
societies, in light of data collected since Willey 1962, a study of Olmec and Chavín art
and “religious cults.” Argues that the militaristic and supernatural themes common in
early art styles express concerns of elites from competing chiefdoms, as opposed to a
proselytizing ideology emanating from a single site or region.
McAnany, Patricia A. 2007. Culture heroes and feathered serpents. In Gordon R. Willey
and American archaeology: Contemporary perspectives. Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff
and William L. Fash, 209–232. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press. [ISBN:
9780806138053]
Evaluation of Willey 1976, Willey’s ethnohistorical study of the legendary-historical
Quetzalcoatl. McAnany praises Willey for his early call for increased attention to the
potential effects of ideology and religion on cultural temperament and societal practice,
which was a precursor to postmodern arguments. She also synthesizes archaeological
and ethnohistorical data connecting Quetzalcoatl to the feathered serpent and
contributes further evidence from rural sites in the Sibun Valley, Belize.
Willey, Gordon R. 1962. *The early great styles and the rise of the pre-Columbian
civilizations[http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1962.64.1.02a00010/pdf]*.
American Anthropologist 64.1: 1–14.
In an important inquiry into the evolutionary implications of early Central and South
American culture history, Willey argues that the widespread occurrence of Olmec and
Chavín “horizon-styles” reflects regional communication networks, which were
necessary prerequisites to the later complex polities of Mesoamerica and the Andes,
respectively. Lower Central America, in contrast, lacked a similar “horizon-style” and
consequently never developed state-level institutions.
Willey, Gordon R. 1974. New World prehistory: 1974. American Journal of Archaeology
78.4: 321–331.
This update of Willey 1960b (cited under *Comparative and Regional Syntheses of
New World Civilizations*) focuses on the first Americans and the development of New
World agriculture and complex societies. Examines cyclical “horizontal unifications”
and periods of cultural fragmentation, questioning the perception that periods of
unification were “normal” or “expected.” Available *online[http://www.
jstor.org/stable/502746]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1976. Mesoamerican civilization and the idea of transcendence.
Antiquity 50.199: 205–215.
Integrates ethnohistorical and archaeological data to reconstruct the fluctuating meaning
and influence of the legendary-historical figure Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl in Mesoamerican
culture. Foreshadows post-processual arguments that stress the multivocal relationship
between ideology and institutional development. Available
*online[http://www.antiquity.ac.uk/Ant/050/Ant0500205.htm]* through purchase or by
subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1980. Precolumbian Taino art in historical and sociocultural
perspective. In La antropología americanista en la actualidad: Homenaje a Raphael
Girard. Vol. 1. Edited by Raphael Girard, 113–128. Mexico City: Editores Mexicanos
Unidos. [ISBN: 9789681503918]
Summarizes the historical context of Taino art and examines potential interactions
between the West Indies and Mesoamerica / South America, as reflected by the West
Indies ballgame.
Willey, Gordon R. 1991. Horizontal integration and regional diversity: An alternating
process in the rise of civilizations. American Antiquity 56.2: 197–215.
This article expands on Willey 1962. Proposes that alternating periods of horizontal
integration and regional diversity in Mesoamerican and Andean prehistory are critical
processes in the development of sociopolitical complexity. In particular, Willey
suggests that the ideological unity implied by shared art and ceramic styles during
“horizon” periods was necessary to underwrite the extensions of state power observed
in later horizon periods. Available *online[http://www.jstor.org/stable/281415]*
through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1999. Styles and state formations. Latin American Antiquity 10.1: 86–
90.
Commentary on Richard E. Blanton, Gary M. Feinman, Stephen A. Kowalewski, and
Peter N. Peregrine, “A Dual-Processual Theory for the Evolution of Mesoamerican
Civilization,” Current Anthropology 37.1 (1996): 1–14. Willey incorporates the
“exclusionary-corporate” model into his explanation of the alternation between horizon
integration and regional factionalism. Available *online[http://www.
jstor.org/stable/972213]* through purchase or by subscription.

ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES


Although Gordon Willey is best known for his field research in South America and the
Maya area, he spent the early part of his career reconstructing the culture history of the
southeastern United States, first in Georgia and later in Florida. Willey 1998 (originally
published in 1949), his synthesis of the archaeology of Florida’s Gulf Coast, is still a
foundational text in the archaeology of Florida and remains in print over fifty years after
its initial publication. Many of the cultural assemblages and periods Willey defined
remain viable today (e.g., Weeden Island, Swift Creek, Safety Harbor, Fort Walton).
Much of Willey’s research history in the southeastern United States is described in
Milanich 2007. After receiving his BA and MA from the University of Arizona in 1935
and 1936, respectively, Willey became a field assistant, and later senior field foreman, at
the Ocmulgee site in Macon, Georgia. Willey brought with him from the Southwest an
attention to chronology and stratigraphy, avoiding use of the W. C. McKern cultural
classification system that commanded archaeological interpretation in the Southeast at the
time. Much of his research focused on organizing and defining local cultural
stratigraphies and chronologies, as illustrated in Ford and Willey 1940, Willey 1939
(cited under *Ceramic Analysis and Regional Chronologies*), Willey 1945, Willey 1948,
and Willey 1949. Willey’s work was also instrumental in correlating various cultural
sequences across the Southeast, specifically the ceramic assemblages of northwest
Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. Examples of this include Ford and Willey 1941 and
Willey and Woodbury 1942. While in Georgia, Willey befriended several scholars who
would prove to be important future collaborators, including James Ford, Philip Phillips,
Walter Taylor, and Matthew Sterling.
Ford, James A., and Gordon R. Willey. 1940. Crooks site: A Marksville period burial
mound in La Salle Parish, Louisiana. Louisiana Department of Conservation,
Anthropological Study 3. New Orleans: Department of Conservation, Louisiana
Geological Survey.
Classic monograph on the Crooks site, about 180 miles northwest of New Orleans.
Ford, James A., and Gordon R. Willey. 1941. *An interpretation of the prehistory of the
eastern United
States[http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1941.43.3.02a00010/pdf]*.
American Anthropologist 43.3: 325–363.
Seminal article by two of the preeminent young archaeologists working in the Southeast
at the time. An early attempt at a synthesis of the culture history of the eastern United
States.
Milanich, Jerald T. 2007. Gordon R. Willey and the archaeology of the Florida Gulf
Coast. In Gordon R. Willey and American archaeology: Contemporary perspectives.
Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff and William L. Fash, 15–25. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma
Press. [ISBN: 9780806138053]
A detailed historical review of Willey’s research and experience in Florida during the
late 1930s and 1940s.
Willey, Gordon R. 1945. The Weeden Island culture: A preliminary definition. American
Antiquity 10.3: 225–254.
First description and ceramic-based definition of the Weeden Island cultural complex.
Typified by incised and punctated pottery. Available *online[http://www.
jstor.org/stable/275128]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1948. Cultural sequence in the manatee region of west Florida.
American Antiquity 13.3: 209–218.
Analysis of ceramic and stratigraphic data from west Florida. Available
*online[http://www. jstor.org/stable/275425]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1949b. Excavations in southeast Florida. Yale Univ. Publications in
Anthropology. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.
Synthesis of unpublished work by Matthew Stirling on the peninsular Florida Gulf
Coast. Remains a classic study in southeastern US archaeology.
Willey, Gordon R. 1998. Archeology of the Florida Gulf Coast. Southeastern Classics in
Archaeology, Anthropology, and History. Gainesville: Univ. Press of Florida. [ISBN:
9780813016030]
Originally published in 1949 (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press).
Evaluates the archaeological record from 17 excavated sites and includes analysis and
description of collections from 142 additional sites. Analyzing large samples of ceramic
sherds, vessels, and lithic projectile points, Willey reconstructed assemblages and
defined cultural periods, many of which remain viable today. Settlement patterns, site
types, material culture, and burial types are also described for each cultural period. New
preface by the author.
Willey, Gordon R., and Richard B. Woodbury. 1942. A chronological outline for the
northwest Florida coast. American Antiquity 7.3: 232–254.
On the basis of three months of fieldwork in the Florida Panhandle coast in 1940, this
article defines chronological periods for much of the southeastern United States. The
ceramic-based temporal ordering of the Florida coast assemblages are tied to sequences
from the lower Mississippi valley, Florida’s central Gulf Coast, and central and coastal
Georgia. This was the first such chronological model for the last two thousand years of
prehistory in the Southeast. Available *online[http://www. jstor.org/stable/275482]*
through purchase or by subscription.

SOUTH AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY


Although Willey 1953 may be his most famous publication, Willey’s field experience in
South America was in fact limited to two projects. The first was for his dissertation,
Willey 1943, as part of William Duncan Strong’s Institute of Andean Research project at
Pachacamac. This study drew Willey’s attention to the proliferation of particular ceramic
and other art styles across large portions of the Andes. Building on the work and
hypotheses of Max Uhle and others, Willey’s research in the Chancay Valley focused on
the early spread of Chavín-style artifacts on the Peruvian coast. As described in Moseley
2007, Willey’s interest in art styles and the role of ideology in the development of culture
germinated from this research and culminated in several later publications, such as
Willey 1945, Willey 1948, and Willey 1951b. As described in Willey 1999, his second
project in the Virú Valley was heavily influenced by the work and mentorship of Julian
Steward and resulted in Willey 1953, a landmark of New World archaeology, as well as
Ford and Willey 1949. While Willey’s survey was not the first to map and classify the
spatial distribution of settlements across a landscape, it was pioneering in its systematic
attention to the demographic majority. For the first time, simple, unimposing sites where
the majority of prehistoric populations resided became a target of archaeological inquiry.
Willey 1951a combines Willey’s interests in settlement patterns and horizon styles. The
Virú study is also an early example of the use of aerial photography in archaeological
research.
Ford, James, and Gordon R. Willey. 1949. Surface survey of the Virú Valley, Peru.
Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 43.1. New York:
American Museum of Natural History.
Report of the initial survey of the Virú Valley. Dating based on surface ceramic
collections.
Moseley, Michael E. 2007. Peru: Willey’s formative years. In Gordon R. Willey and
American archaeology: Contemporary perspectives. Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff and
William L. Fash, 26–40. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press. [ISBN: 9780806138053]
A historical review of Willey’s impact on Andean archaeology. Chronicles and outlines
the contributions and flaws of Willey’s work in refining Andean chronological
horizons, examining the methods that made Willey’s Virú Valley research a milestone
in archaeology. The author also suggests that drought played an important role in
depopulating the valley during the Chimu period.
Willey, Gordon R. 1943. Excavations in the Chancay Valley: Archaeological studies in
Peru, 1941–1942. Columbia Studies in Archaeology and Ethnology 1.3. New York:
Columbia Univ. Press.
Willey’s published dissertation from Columbia University. Focuses on descriptions of
early Intermediate-period sites. Established the broad distribution of Chavín-style
artifacts along Peru’s central coast.
Willey, Gordon R. 1945. Horizon styles and pottery traditions in Peruvian archaeology.
American Antiquity 11.1: 49–56.
Examines Alfred Kroeber’s concept of “horizon style” for widespread material traits
lacking iconographic elements in Peru, while defining the concept of “pottery tradition”
as long-term regional continuity in ceramic technology and decoration. Available
*online[http://www. jstor.org/stable/275530]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1948. Functional analysis of “horizon styles” in Peruvian archaeology.
In A reappraisal of Peruvian archaeology. Edited by Wendell C. Bennett, 8–15.
Memoirs of the Society for American Archaeology 4. Menasha, WI: Society for
American Archaeology.
An attempt to explain the “meaning” behind Andean “horizons.” Contains speculative
conjectures as to the nature and causes of the spread of Chavín, Tiwanaku, and Inka
material culture and iconography.
Willey, Gordon R. 1951a. Peruvian settlement and socio-economic patterns. Paper
presented at the 29th International Congress of Americanists, held in New York from
5–12 September 1949. Proceedings of the 29th International Congress of Americanists
1:195–200. [class:conference-paper]
Connects settlement patterns to the development of social institutions and sociocultural
integration. Describes “functional-developmental classifications” for the cultures of the
time periods of the central Andes, defined by co-occurring constellations of cultural
traits.
Willey, Gordon R. 1951b. The Chavín problem: A review and critique. Southwestern
Journal of Anthropology 7.2: 103–144.
Examines the meaning behind the term “Chavín” and catalogues instances of Chavín-
style art and ceramics across the Andes. Contrasts the evidence for a temporally
discrete Chavín horizon versus a longer Chavín tradition. Available
*online[http://www.jstor.org/stable/3628619]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1953. Prehistoric settlement patterns in the Virú Valley, Peru. Bureau
of American Ethnology Bulletin 155. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Milestone publication of Willey’s archaeological survey of the Virú valley. Often cited
as the beginning of settlement archaeology in the New World, in its attention to the
smaller settlements that compose the majority of archaeological remains.
Willey, Gordon R. 1999. The Virú Valley project and settlement archaeology: Some
reminiscences and contemporary comments. In Settlement pattern studies in the
Americas: Fifty years since Virú. Edited by Brian R. Billman and Gary M. Feinman, 9–
11. Smithsonian Series in Archaeological Inquiry. Washington, DC: Smithsonian
Institution Press. [ISBN: 9781560988267]
Brief historical review of the circumstances surrounding the Virú Valley project and its
impact on the field of archaeology.

Regional Syntheses
While working on the Handbook of South American Indians for Julian Steward at the
Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of American Ethnology in 1943, Willey had the
opportunity to review the archaeological record of several regions of South America.
During this time he wrote Willey 1946a and 1946b. These publications, as well as
Howard and Willey 1948, a regional synthesis of Argentinean archaeology, were heavily
influenced by Steward’s evolutionary perspective of cultural change.
Howard, George D., and Gordon R. Willey. 1948. Lowland Argentine archaeology. Yale
Univ. Publications in Anthropology 39. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.
Regional overview of cultural development in lowland Argentina.
Willey, Gordon R. 1946a. The archaeology of the Greater Pampa. In Handbook of South
American Indians. Vol. 1, The marginal tribes. Edited by Julian H. Steward, 25–46.
Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 143. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution
Press.
Regional synthesis of the archaeological data available from 1943, from the grassland
region between the Atlantic and the Andes located in modern Argentina and extending
into Uruguay. Republished in 1963 (New York: Cooper Square).
Willey, Gordon R. 1946b. The culture of La Candelaria. In Handbook of South American
Indians. Vol. 2, The Andean civilizations. Edited by Julian H. Steward, 661–672.
Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 143. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution
Press.
Regional synthesis of the archaeological data from northwest Argentina available in
1943. Republished in 1963 (New York: Cooper Square).

ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE INTERMEDIATE AREA


Following his investigations in the Virú Valley, Peru, Willey shifted his research area to
Panama, with the goal “to dig his way, gradually, from Panama to Mexico City” (Quilter
2007, p. 106). His acceptance of the Bowditch Chair at Harvard in 1950, however,
carried the caveat that he focus on the Maya area. Willey’s field experience in the
Intermediate Area (lower Central America to northern South America) was therefore
limited to excavations at Monagrillo on the Pacific coast of Panama in 1948 and 1952,
reported in Willey and McGimsey 1952 and Willey and McGimsey 1954, and in southern
Nicaragua from 1959 to 1961. Throughout his career, he nevertheless continued to follow
research in the region and included the Intermediate Area in his grand syntheses of
Americanist archaeology. Willey 1959 contrasts the absence of “horizon-styles” across
the Intermediate Area with their periodic dominance of the artistic traditions of
Mesoamerica and the Andean region. He suggests that without an expansive ideological
regime, political complexity in the Intermediate Area stagnated compared to the
macroregions to the north and south. Although Willey recognized the simplistic nature of
this rough comparison, it remained a central theme in Willey 1969, Willey 1982, and
Willey 1984, as well as in Willey 1962 (cited under *Iconography, Civilization, and
Horizon Styles*).
Quilter, Jeffrey. 2007. The Intermediate Area and Gordon Willey. In Gordon R. Willey
and American archaeology: Contemporary perspectives. Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff
and William L. Fash, 105–125. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press. [ISBN:
9780806138053]
Historical analysis of the impact of Willey’s fieldwork and publications on the
archaeology of the Intermediate Area.
Willey, Gordon R. 1959. The Intermediate Area of nuclear America: Its prehistoric
relationships to Middle America and Peru. Paper presented at the 33rd International
Congress of Americanists, held in San José, Costa Rica, in 1958. Proceedings of the
33rd International Congress of Americanists 1:184–194. [class:conference-paper]
Defines the Intermediate Area as a geographic unit. Connects the limited degree of
political and demographic centralization in the pre-Columbian Intermediate Area to the
late appearance of pottery and the absence of horizon-wide “Great Styles” such as those
of Mesoamerica and the Andes.
Willey, Gordon R. 1969. The Mesoamericanization of the Honduran-Salvadoran
periphery: A symposium commentary. Paper presented at the 38th International
Congress of Americanists, held in Stuttgart-Munich, Germany, in 1968. Proceedings of
the 38th International Congress of Americanists 1:536–542. [class:conference-paper]
Argues that Olmec-style Preclassic ceramics in Honduras are part of a “Southern
Mesoamerican” pottery tradition and that cultural development in Honduras was largely
independent of the Maya cultural system.
Willey, Gordon R. 1982. Some thoughts on the chronological-developmental
configuration of lower Central American cultures. In Gedenkschrift Walter Lehmann.
Vol. 2, Beiträge zur Völker- und Sprachenkunde, Archäologie und Anthropologie des
indianischen Amerika. Edited by Anneliese Mönnich, Berthold Riese, and Vera Zeller,
177–182. Indiana 7. Berlin: Mann. [ISBN: 9783786113775]
Compares the cultural evolutionary history of lower Central America to that of
Mesoamerica and proposes a developmental scheme for the area. Available
*online[http://www.iai.spk-
berlin.de/fileadmin/dokumentenbibliothek/Indiana/Indiana_7/IND_07_Willey.pdf]*.
Willey, Gordon R. 1984. A summary of the archaeology of lower Central America. Paper
presented at the Advanced Seminar on Lower Central American Archaeology, held 8–
14 April 1980 at the School of American Research, Santa Fe, NM. In The archaeology
of lower Central America. Edited by Frederick W. Lange and Doris Z. Stone, 339–378.
School of American Research Advanced Seminar. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico
Press. [ISBN: 9780826307170] [class:conference-paper]
Summary chapter originally prepared for a seminar at the School for American
Research; covers chronology, internal developments, and external contacts in the
Intermediate Area.
Willey, Gordon R., and Charles R. McGimsey. 1952. Archaeology in western Panama.
Archaeology 5.3: 173–181.
Broad summary of research at Monagrillo; placed tracking interconnections between
Mesoamerica and the Andes at the forefront of Panamanian archaeology.
Willey, Gordon R., and Charles R. McGimsey. 1954. The Monagrillo culture of Panama.
Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 49.2. Cambridge, MA:
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard Univ.
Technical report of excavations at the early ceramic site of Monagrillo in Panama.
Reprinted in 1978 (Millwood, NY: Kraus Reprint).

MAYA ARCHAEOLOGY
Few scholars have matched Willey’s depth and breadth of knowledge concerning the
archaeological record of the Americas. Willey’s characterization as “grand synthesizer,”
however, was never more apt than for the Maya. Willey, et al. 1965 (cited under *Belize
Valley*) was but one of four projects Willey directed in the region. In 1975 he initiated
the era of modern research at Copan, Honduras. Again, settlement pattern studies were,
and have remained, a cornerstone of research design and development at the site and in
the region, as illustrated in Willey and Leventhal 1979 (cited under *Copan and the
Southeast Maya Periphery*). Although Willey was fascinated by all facets of ancient
Maya society, his publications continually returned to questions surrounding the nature of
Maya social structure and the Maya collapse (800–950 CE).

Summary Articles, Overviews, and Syntheses


Willey’s publications in this section examine “big-picture” empirical trends in Maya
archaeology. If Willey was the “dean” of American archaeology, then he was “chairman
of the board” of Maya archaeology. Willey’s broad empirical expertise and the holistic
requirements of his settlement and comparative studies made him an ideal concluding
discussant for numerous edited volumes and collections considering various themes in
Maya archaeology. Assessments of the origins of political complexity in the Maya
lowlands are given in Willey 1971 and Willey 1977. Willey 1978 is a comprehensive
revision of the interrelated misconceptions of lowland Maya food-production capabilities
and demographic capacity, in light of then-current research, and is supported by
subsequent data. Willey and Hammond 1979 introduces a wide range of topics in Maya
studies, again highlighting changes in interpretations of Maya prehistory generated by
advances in Maya settlement, epigraphic, and iconographic investigations. Beyond his
summary contributions to various collected works, Willey regularly synthesized the
most-pressing current issues in Maya archaeology, as exemplified by Willey 1980 and
Willey 1984. Willey 1982 provides a chronological cultural history of the Maya area, on
the basis of data available in 1981.
Willey, Gordon R. 1971. Commentary on: The emergence of civilization in the Maya
lowlands. Paper presented at the 47th Burg Wartenstein Conference, held 4–13 July
1970 at the Burg Wartenstein Conference Center, Austria. In Observations on the
emergence of civilization in Mesoamerica. Edited by Robert F. Heizer and John A.
Graham, 97–111. Contributions of the Univ. of California Archaeological Research
Facility 11. Berkeley: Department of Anthropology, Univ. of California.
Evaluates the evidence in 1970 supporting local sources of sociopolitical development
in the Maya area, in a strong endorsement of the value of culture-historical
reconstruction in archaeology.
Willey, Gordon R. 1977. The rise of Maya civilization: A summary view. Paper
presented at a seminar sponsored by the School of American Research held 14–18
October 1974 in Santa Fe, NM. In The origins of Maya civilization. Edited by Richard
E. W. Adams, 383–423. School of American Research Advanced Seminar.
Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press. [ISBN: 9780826304414] [class:conference-
paper]
Summary chapter to the edited volume, examining the rise of Maya complexity and
evaluating the basic archaeological data from the early periods of Maya culture and
models of internal processes of development and external interactions.
Willey, Gordon R. 1978. Pre-Hispanic Maya agriculture: A contemporary summation. In
Pre-Hispanic Maya agriculture. Edited by Peter D. Harrison and B. L. Turner II, 325–
335. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press. [ISBN: 9780826304834]
Provides a synthesis of the conceptual revisions to archaeological models of Maya
social organization required by the three primary conclusions of the volume: (1) the
Maya relied on more than swidden agriculture, (2) Maya populations were much larger
and densely nucleated than previously believed, and (3) Maya farmers practiced a
multitude of agricultural techniques.
Willey, Gordon R. 1980. Towards an holistic view of ancient Maya civilisation. Man, n.s.
15.2: 249–266.
Review of the state of Maya archaeology in 1979. Emphasizes the integrated nature of
several research themes, including settlement patterns, subsistence, sociopolitical
organization, and ideology. Available *online[http://www.jstor.org/stable/2801670]*
through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1982. Maya archeology. Science 215.4530: 260–267.
A chronological synthesis of lowland Maya culture history as known in 1981. Available
*online[http://www.sciencemag.org/content/215/4530/260.short]* through purchase or
by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1984. Changing conceptions of lowland Maya culture history. Journal
of Anthropological Research 40.1: 41–59.
Historical review of Maya scholarship, published in the journal’s 40th-anniversary
issue. Examines the potential impact of several interregional connections on the
development of Maya civilization and urges caution when using culture histories in
interpreting cultural processes. Available
*online[http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629689]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R., and Norman Hammond. 1979. Introduction. In Maya archaeology
and ethnohistory. Edited by Norman Hammond and Gordon R. Willey, xi–xvii. Papers
presented at the Second Cambridge Symposium on Recent Research in Mesoamerican
Archaeology, 29–31 August 1976, Centre of Latin American Studies, Cambridge Univ.,
Cambridge, UK. Texas Pan American. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press. [ISBN:
9780292750401] [class:conference-proceeding]
Introduction to a varied collection of essays on Maya sociopolitical structure and
development.

Maya Social Organization and Settlement Patterns


Considering the nature of Willey’s field research and how it fundamentally altered
perceptions of Classic Maya society, he published surprisingly few works that generalize
broad patterns of Maya social and political organization as inferred by settlement
distributions. In many ways this reflects the impact of these publications and the holistic
nature of his settlement pattern approach. As illustrated in Mathews and Willey 1991
(cited under *Petexbatun*), Willey and Leventhal 1979 (cited under *Copan and the
Southeast Maya Periphery*), and Willey, et al. 1965 (cited under *Belize Valley*), many
of Willey’s contributions to the archaeology of Maya social structure were site or region
specific. In his early publications on the topic, prior to the full analysis of the Belize
Valley data, Willey was concerned with identifying the full range of Maya settlement
types and their functional roles in lowland society. These concerns are exemplified in
Willey 1956b and Willey and Bullard 1965. Although often overlooked, Willey 1956a
more explicitly attempts to link patterns in settlement distribution to higher-level
interpretations of Maya sociopolitical organization and stratification. In his contributions
to Ashmore 1981, Willey expands on his bridging arguments connecting settlement
patterns to societal features in a more robust comparative framework. Willey 1986 more
intensely focuses on the economic dimensions of lowland social structure.
Ashmore, Wendy, ed. 1981. Lowland Maya settlement patterns. Papers presented at a
seminar held at the School of American Research, Santa Fe, NM, 14–18 November
1977. School of American Research Advanced Seminar. Albuquerque: Univ. of New
Mexico Press. [ISBN: 9780826305565] [class:conference-proceeding]
Willey contributed two chapters to this landmark in lowland Maya settlement
archaeology: (1) a historical summary of Maya settlement research, coauthored with
Ashmore, provides a review of early “small mound” investigations and a detailed
synthesis of lowland regional and household archaeology until the mid-1970s, and (2)
the conclusion to the volume, calling for further expansion of organizational and
analytical models of settlement data for future comparisons.
Willey, Gordon R. 1956a. *The structure of ancient Maya society: Evidence from the
southern
lowlands[http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1956.58.5.02a00020/pdf]*.
American Anthropologist 58.5: 777–782.
This essay examines models of Maya sociopolitical organization as indicated by
settlement patterns and residential excavations. Published before the final analyses of
the Barton Raime excavations, Willey argues that Maya society was highly integrated
and that, while stratified, claims of stark class distinctions may be exaggerated.
Willey, Gordon R. 1956b. Problems concerning prehistoric settlement patterns in the
Maya lowlands. In Prehistoric settlement patterns in the New World. Edited by Gordon
R. Willey, 107–114. Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology 23. New York:
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.
Early diachronic comparison and assessment of settlement data from the Maya
lowlands, focusing on the size and composition of a Maya community and the
relationship between residential communities and ceremonial centers. Presents a highly
influential set of three Maya settlement types.
Willey, Gordon R. 1986. The Classic Maya sociopolitical order: A study in coherence
and instability. In Research and reflections in archaeology and history: Essays in honor
of Doris Stone. Edited by E. Wyllys Andrews V, 189–198. Middle American Research
Institute Publication 57. New Orleans, LA: Middle American Research Institute, Tulane
Univ. [ISBN: 9780939238873]
Proposes that Western models that correlate economic expansion with greater political
complexity (defined as increased centralization) run contrary to data from the Maya
area during the Late Classic–Postclassic transition.
Willey, Gordon R., and William R. Bullard. 1965. Prehistoric settlement patterns in the
Maya lowlands. In Handbook of Middle American Indians. Vol. 2, Archaeology of
southern Mesoamerica, part 1. Edited by Gordon R. Willey, 360–377. Austin: Univ. of
Texas Press. [ISBN: 9780292736320]
Synthesizes the available information on settlement patterns in the Maya lowlands to
establish the parameters of Maya settlement forms and types.

External Contacts and the Classic Maya Collapse


The projects Willey directed in the southern Petén, Guatemala, had a major impact on
scholarly perspectives on interactions between the Maya and external non-Maya groups.
The excavations at Seibal, but also those at Altar de Sacrificios, at the time indicated that
incursion into the Maya area by non-Maya peoples played a significant role in the
supposed breakdown in Classic-period society. The initial empirical implications of those
projects are presented in Sabloff and Willey 1967. Intrigued by the supposed “hiatus”
period at Tikal in the 6th century, Willey 1974 examines the potential role(s) of
Teotihuacan in the origins and development of Classic society. The influence of that
article in Maya studies is reviewed in Freidel, et al. 2007. Willey 1977 reviews shifts in
scholarly perceptions of external influences on the lowland Maya, shifts driven in large
part by his own investigations. That the potential effects of foreign intrusion into the
Maya lowlands intrigued Willey throughout most of his career is not a surprise,
considering the importance he gave migration and material and ideological diffusion in
his continental culture-historical syntheses, as exemplified in Willey 1953 (cited under
*Culture History*), Willey 1960a (cited under *Comparative and Regional Syntheses of
New World Civilizations*), and Willey 1962 (cited under *Iconography, Civilization,
and Horizon Styles*). Willey 1973, however, indicates that he recognized that external
influences could be largely absent in instances of cultural “collapse.” Willey and Shimkin
1973 takes a broader, yet highly nuanced, perspective of the Classic Maya collapse; the
authors’ arguments are evaluated in Rice 2007. Willey 1986 is a theoretical and empirical
summary of the Classic-Postclassic transition in the Maya lowlands. This introductory
chapter served as the starting point for subsequent revisions of this critical period in
Maya history within this important edited volume and exemplifies Willey’s willingness
to bear scholarly critique.
Freidel, David A., Hector L. Escobedo, and Stanley P. Guenter. 2007. A crossroads of
conquerors. In Gordon R. Willey and American archaeology: Contemporary
perspectives. Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff and William L. Fash, 187–208. Norman:
Univ. of Oklahoma Press. [ISBN: 9780806138053]
Reevaluates Willey’s hypothesis of Teotihuacan economic and political influence in the
Maya area, in light of current data.
Rice, Prudence M. 2007. The Classic Maya “collapse” and its causes. In Gordon R.
Willey and American archaeology: Contemporary perspectives. Edited by Jeremy A.
Sabloff and William L. Fash, 141–186. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press. [ISBN:
9780806138053]
Provides a brief historical review of how conceptions of the “collapse” developed prior
to publication of Willey and Shimkin 1973 (a summary chapter), followed by a review
of subsequent analyses of Classic Maya warfare and militarism that focuses on
epigraphic and iconographic data and ethnohistorical analogy.
Sabloff, Jeremy A., and Gordon R. Willey. 1967. The collapse of Maya civilization in the
southern lowlands: A consideration of history and process. Southwestern Journal of
Anthropology 23.4: 311–336.
Outlines the evidence (primarily from art and ceramics) for a non-Maya invasion of the
southern lowlands in the 9th century CE, precipitating the collapse of Classic Maya
culture. Also a methodological and theoretical response to Binford’s New Archaeology,
arguing that attention to history and process are complementary rather than mutually
exclusive. Available *online[http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629449]* through purchase
or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R. 1973. Certain aspects of the Late Classic to Postclassic periods in the
Belize Valley. In The Classic Maya collapse. Edited by T. Patrick Culbert, 93–106.
Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press.
Describes ceramics and occupation in the Belize Valley during the Late Classic and
Postclassic periods. Notes that while hinterland occupation seems unbroken between
these periods, ceramic traditions differed greatly.
Willey, Gordon R. 1974. The Classic Maya hiatus: A “rehearsal” for the collapse? Paper
presented at a symposium of Mesoamerican archaeology held in August 1972 at the
Centre of Latin American Studies, Cambridge Univ., Cambridge, UK. In
Mesoamerican archaeology: New approaches. Edited by Norman Hammond, 417–430.
Austin: Univ. of Texas Press. [ISBN: 9780292750081] [class:conference-paper]
Examines the cessation of dated monuments near the end of the Early Classic (534–593
CE) in the Maya lowlands, particularly at the large site of Tikal, Guatemala. Attributes
this “hiatus” to the withdrawal of Teotihuacan influence from the economy of the
central lowlands, again primarily at Tikal.
Willey, Gordon R. 1977. External influences on the lowland Maya: 1940 and 1975
perspectives. In Social process in Maya prehistory: Studies in honour of Sir Eric
Thompson. Edited by Norman Hammond, 57–75. London: Academic Press. [ISBN:
9780123220509]
Compares perspectives of the influence of foreign cultures on the lowland Maya during
the Preclassic, Classic, and Postclassic periods. Notes that the primary difference
between 1940 and 1975 is the increased volume of research accumulated during the
intervening thirty-five years.
Willey, Gordon R. 1986. The Postclassic of the Maya lowlands: A preliminary overview.
In Late lowland Maya civilization: Classic to Postclassic. Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff
and E. Wyllys Andrews V, 17–51. School of American Research Advanced Seminar.
Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press. [ISBN: 9780826308368]
Introductory synthesis of then-published data on the Classic-Postclassic transition.
Served as a benchmark for the contributors of the volume to revise previous
assumptions of this period of cultural transition.
Willey, Gordon R., and Demitri B. Shimkin. 1973. The Maya collapse: A summary view.
In The Classic Maya collapse. Edited by T. Patrick Culbert, 457–502. Albuquerque:
Univ. of New Mexico Press.
Concluding chapter to the first comparative examination of the Classic Maya collapse,
providing a synthetic model of collapse that attempts to incorporate multiple causal
perspectives. Significant in its recognition that the collapse was a complex process that
likely involved multiple factors.

Belize Valley
Willey, et al. 1965 is a landmark in Maya archaeology. Although Willey was not the first
to examine the small house mounds that cover the Maya landscape, his work in the Belize
Valley was innovative in that the settlement pattern study was the central focus of the
project. Ashmore 2007 describes that the project’s influence in Maya archaeology beyond
the study of settlement patterns was threefold: (1) the initiation of household and
community studies, as illustrated in Willey and Bullard 1956, and landscape archaeology,
(2) the introduction of a regional perspective, and (3) the introduction of the type-variety-
mode approach to Maya ceramic analysis (Willey 1976, cited under *Ceramic Analysis
and Regional Chronologies*). Willey 2004 comments that this project fundamentally
reoriented Maya archaeology, by amplifying its investigative domain beyond the
ceremonial centers that had been the loci of most previous research in the region. The
collected papers in Garber 2004 detail much of the subsequent research in the Belize
Valley, inspired by Willey’s initial investigation.
Ashmore, Wendy. 2007. Legacies of Gordon Willey’s Belize Valley research. In Gordon
R. Willey and American archaeology: Contemporary perspectives. Edited by Jeremy A.
Sabloff and William L. Fash, 41–60. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press. [ISBN:
9780806138053]
Provides a summary of the impact of Willey’s Belize Valley research on Maya
archaeology, as an expansion of field techniques pioneered in Peru that reoriented
conceptions of ancient Maya society. Details various outgrowths of this research,
including household and landscape archaeologies.
Garber, James F., ed. 2004. The ancient Maya of the Belize Valley: Half a century of
archaeological research. Maya Studies. Gainesville: Univ. of Florida Press. [ISBN:
9780813026855]
Presents a diverse set of data from multiple long-term projects in the Belize Valley
since the mid-1950s.
Willey, Gordon R. 2004. Retrospective. In The ancient Maya of the Belize Valley: Half a
century of archaeological research. Edited by James F. Garber, 15–24. Maya Studies.
Gainesville: Univ. of Florida Press. [ISBN: 9780813026855]
Provides a detailed retrospective account of Willey’s experiences initiating and
conducting the Belize valley research at Barton Ramie.
Willey, Gordon R., and William R. Bullard Jr. 1956. The Melhado site: A house mound
group in British Honduras. American Antiquity 22.1: 29–44.
Report of excavations at the Melhado site, a household-size settlement, conducted as
part of settlement research in the Belize valley. Available
*online[http://www.jstor.org/stable/276165]* through purchase or by subscription.
Willey, Gordon R., William R. Bullard Jr., John B. Glass, and James C. Gifford. 1965.
Prehistoric Maya settlements in the Belize Valley. Papers of the Peabody Museum of
Archaeology and Ethnology 54. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of Archaeology
and Ethnology, Harvard Univ.
Landmark study of settlement patterns in the Belize Valley. The first of its kind in
Mesoamerica, it is often cited as the inspiration for the development of household and
landscape archaeologies in the Maya area.

Petexbatun
After the success of the *Belize Valley* project, Willey turned his attention to the Maya
heartland, specifically the Pasión River Basin within the Petexbatun region of the Petén,
Guatemala. In 1958, when Willey began investigation at Altar de Sacrificios,
archaeological information on the Maya lowlands was limited to the Carnegie
excavations at Uaxactun and the contemporaneous University of Pennsylvania survey and
excavations at Tikal. From 1958 to 1963, Willey directed excavations at Altar, as
reported in Willey 1972, Willey 1973, and Willey and Smith 1969. From 1964 to 1968,
he directed survey and excavations at Seibal, as reported in Willey 1978; Willey 1990;
and Willey, et al. 1975. Tourtellot and Hammond 2007 is a historical review of the Seibal
project and its impact on Maya archaeology. The investigations at Altar, and the
subsequent Seibal project, represented the first major excavations in the southern Petén
and radically altered expectations of the history of the Classic Maya lowlands.
Excavations at Altar pushed lowland history further back into Middle Preclassic, while
also informing the end of the Classic period. The presence of Terminal Classic Fine Paste
ceramics at both sites and the preeminence of foreign elements in Seibal’s Terminal
Classic iconography raised questions as to the role of internal and external warfare in the
Classic Maya collapse (Sabloff and Willey 1967, cited under *External Contacts and the
Classic Maya Collapse*). Moreover, as noted in Mathews and Willey 1991, these studies
highlighted that Maya sites had their own individual histories. Centers (and regions) did
not simply follow a linear trajectory until abandonment, but they exhibit highly variable
cycles of growth and decline.
Mathews, Peter, and Gordon R. Willey. 1991. Prehistoric polities of the Pasion region:
Hieroglyphic texts and their archaeological settings. In Classic Maya political history:
Hieroglyphic and archaeological evidence. Edited by T. Patrick Culbert, 30–71. School
of American Research Advanced Seminar. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
[ISBN: 9780521392105]
A comprehensive cataloguing of the known epigraphic and archaeological data from
the Pasion region of the southern Maya lowlands. Mathews and Willey outline a
cultural and political history for the region and argue for a larger degree of political
autonomy for Pasion political units than is suggested by other scholars.
Tourtellot, Gair, and Norman Hammond. 2007. Serendipity at Seibal. In Gordon R.
Willey and American archaeology: Contemporary perspectives. Edited by Jeremy A.
Sabloff and William L. Fash, 126–140. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press. [ISBN:
9780806138053]
Historical summary of the goals of the Seibal project and its unintended outcomes.
Reviews the impact of the Seibal data on understandings of Maya civilization.
Willey, Gordon R. 1972. The artifacts of Altar de Sacrificios. Papers of the Peabody
Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 64.1. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of
Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard Univ. [ISBN: 9780873651837]
Published report describing all the artifacts (except for pottery) from the 1958–1964
excavations at Altar de Sacrificios.
Willey, Gordon R. 1973. The Altar de Sacrificios excavations: General summary and
conclusions. Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 64.3.
Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard Univ.
[ISBN: 9780873651851]
Summarizes the findings from the previous six published reports, providing final
interpretations of the site’s culture history and process, focusing on the site’s early
history (c. 900 BCE–0 CE).
Willey, Gordon R. 1978. Excavations at Seibal. Vol. 1, Artifacts. Memoirs of the
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 14.1. Cambridge, MA: Peabody
Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard Univ. [ISBN: 9780873656863]
Published report describing the nonceramic artifacts from the 1964–1968 excavations at
Seibal.
Willey, Gordon R. 1990. Excavations at Seibal. Vol. 4, General summary and
conclusions. Memoirs of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 17.4.
Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard Univ.
[ISBN: 9780873656900]
Summarizes the findings from the previous published reports, providing final
interpretations of the site’s culture history and process, and evaluates the degree to
which the project was able to answer its initial research questions.
Willey, Gordon R., and A. Ledyard Smith. 1969. The ruins of Altar de Sacrificios,
Department of Peten, Guatemala: An introduction. Papers of the Peabody Museum of
Archaeology and Ethnology 62.1. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of Archaeology
and Ethnology, Harvard Univ.
Introduction to the Altar de Sacrificios reports. Includes a summary of earlier
investigations at the site and describes the Harvard University Peabody Museum
research (1958–1964).
Willey, Gordon R., A. Ledyard Smith, Gair Tourtellot III, and Ian Graham. 1975.
Excavations at Seibal, Department of Peten, Guatemala. Vol. 1, Introduction to the site
and its setting. Memoirs of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 13.1.
Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard Univ.
[ISBN: 9780873656856]
Introduction to the Seibal reports. Includes a summary of earlier investigations at the
site, outlines the project goals and research objectives, and describes the Harvard
University Peabody Museum research (1964–1968).

Copan and the Southeast Maya Periphery


In 1975, Willey initiated the current era of research at the major Classic Maya site of
Copan, Honduras. Involving several of his students, this research focused on
documenting the full scope of settlement forms within the Copan Valley, as reported in
Willey and Leventhal 1979; Willey, et al. 1978; and Willey, et al. 1994. Following his
retirement from fieldwork, Willey remained an active contributor to scholarship in the
southeastern Maya area, often as discussant and organizer of several symposia on the
archaeology of the region. Boone and Willey 1988 contains presentations from a
conference co-organized by Willey on the region. Willey 1986 presents an initial
reconstruction of the cultural history of the region, which is updated in Willey 1988.
Although Willey’s field time at Copan was rather limited, he provided a vital spark to
archaeological research at the site, which today represents the most fully investigated site
of the Maya lowlands.
Boone, Elizabeth Hill, and Gordon R. Willey, eds. 1988. The Southeast Classic Maya
Zone. Papers presented at the Dumbarton Oaks Symposium on the Southeast Classic
Maya Zone, held 6–7 October 1984 at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, Washington,
DC. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. [ISBN:
9780884021704] [class:conference-proceeding]
Publication of papers presented at Dumbarton Oaks, focusing primarily on the Classic
Maya centers of Copan and Quirigua as well as on the regional cultures that mark the
southeast periphery of the Maya area.
Willey, Gordon R. 1986. Copan, Quirigua, and the Southeast Maya Zone: A summary
view. In The southeast Maya periphery. Edited by Patricia A. Urban and Edward M.
Schortman, 168–175. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press. [ISBN: 9780029275894]
Early culture-historical reconstruction of the southeast Maya area.
Willey, Gordon R. 1988. The Southeast Classic Maya Zone: A summary. Paper presented
at the Dumbarton Oaks Symposium on the Southeast Classic Maya Zone, held 6–7
October 1984 at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, Washington, DC. In The Southeast
Classic Maya Zone. Edited by Elizabeth H. Boone and Gordon R. Willey, 395–408.
Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. [ISBN:
9780884021704] [class:conference-paper]
Outlines the cultural history of the southeast Maya area from the Preclassic to the end
of the Late Classic.
Willey, Gordon R., and Richard M. Leventhal. 1979. Prehistoric settlement at Copán.
Paper presented at the Second Cambridge Symposium on Recent Research in
Mesoamerican Archaeology, held 29–31 August 1976 at the Centre of Latin American
Studies, Cambridge Univ., Cambridge, UK. In Maya archaeology and ethnohistory.
Edited by Norman Hammond and Gordon R. Willey, 75–102. Texas Pan American.
Austin: Univ. of Texas Press. [ISBN: 9780292750401] [class:conference-paper]
Seminal article on the settlement patterns of the Copan pocket, defining the hierarchical
settlement typology that has framed settlement studies at Copan since the early 1980s.
Willey, Gordon R., Richard M. Leventhal, Arthur A. Demarest, and William L. Fash.
1994. Ceramics and artifacts from excavations in the Copan residential zone. Papers of
the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 80. Cambridge, MA: Peabody
Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard Univ. [ISBN: 9780873652063]
Description and analysis of the ceramics and artifacts recovered during the 1975–1977
testing and Las Sepulturas excavations in the Copan Valley.
Willey, Gordon R., Richard M. Leventhal, and William L. Fash. 1978. Maya settlement
in the Copan valley. Archaeology 31.4: 32–43.
Description of settlement patterns in the Copan pocket.

HISTORY OF ARCHAEOLOGY
Willey produced several works that reviewed his career and the individuals who
influenced his perspectives on American prehistory (both continents). His most enduring
and thorough publication on the subject is Willey and Sabloff 1993, written and
repeatedly revised with his student Jeremy Sabloff. In Willey 1988, he reveals his great
appreciation for his predecessors and colleagues in archaeology and recognizes that his
own contributions to the field would have been lessened without them.
Willey, Gordon R. 1988. Portraits in American archaeology: Remembrances of some
distinguished Americanists. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press. [ISBN:
9780826311337]
Provides biographical and anecdotal sketches of colleagues who had a profound impact
on Willey’s career and way of thinking.
Willey, Gordon R., and Jeremy A. Sabloff. 1993. A history of American archaeology. 3d
ed. New York: W. H. Freeman. [ISBN: 9780716723707]
Detailed historical account of the development of anthropological archaeology in the
United States. First published in 1973 (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman).

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