Deborah L. Nichols

Academic Appointments
  • Professor of Anthropology

  • William J. Bryant 1925 Professorship

  • Ecology, Evolution, Ecosystems, and Society Grad Program

  • Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies

I am interested in understanding why human societies become more complex. As an archaeological anthropologist, my research examines the political economy and ecology of the prehispanic Americas with a focus on the development of agriculture, urbanization and state formation. My research applies a regional approach to landscape archaeology, and geochemical source analysess to understand interrelations between ancient economies, ecologies, and politics with particular attention to Central Mexico and the Southwest.


403 Silsby Hall, Anthropology Department
HB 6047


  • Ph.D, 1980 Pennsylvania State University
  • M.A., 1975 Pennsylvania State University
  • B.A., 1973 Pennsylvania State University

Selected Publications

  • Nichols, Deborah L. 2018. Aztec and pre-Aztec Agricultural Practices and Environmental Impacts in Central Mexico. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science, edited by Peter Boguckli. Oxford University Press, New York.

  • Nichols, Deborah L. and Enrique Rodríguez-Alegría, eds. 2017. Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs. Oxford University Press, New York

  • Nichols, Deborah L. Frances F. Berdan, and Michael E. Smith, eds. 2017. Rethinking the Aztec Economy. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

  • Nichols, Deborah L. 2017  Farm to Market in the Aztec Empire. In Rethinking the Aztec Economy, edited by Deborah L. Nichols, Frances F. Berdan, and Michael E. Smit, pp. 19–43. University of Arizona Press, Tucson

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Works In Progress

  • Crider, Destiny, Deborah L. Nichols, Christopher P. Garraty. In press.  A Geospatial Approach to the Development of Postclassic Markets: Ceramic Production and Exchange from the Epiclassic through Late Postclassic in the Basin of Mexico. In City, Craft and Residence in Mesoamerica: Research Papers Presented in Honor of Dan Healan, edited by Ronald K. Faulseit, Nezahualcoyotl Xiutecutli, and Haley Holt-Mehta. Middle American Research Institute Papers, Tulane University, New Orleans.

  • Nichols, Deborah L., and Wesley D. Stoner. In press. Before Teotihuacan: Ancient Mesoamerica.

  • Nichols, Deborah L. 2017 City, State, and Hinterlands: Teotihuacan and Central Mexico. In Teotihuacan: The World Beyond the City. Organized by Kenneth G. Hirth, David M. Carballo, and Bárbara Arroyo. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collections, Washington D.C.

  • Stoner, Wesley D., and Deborah L. Nichols. In press. The Altica Project: Reframing the Formative Basin of Mexico. Ancient Mesoamerica.

Selected Works & Activities

  • Nichols, Deborah L. and Wesley Stoner. Collaborative Research: Craft Specialization, Exchange, and the Development of Early Complex Societies in Central Mexico.  Principal Investigators: Deborah L. Nichols (Dartmouth College) and Wesley Stoner, NSF No. 1424132-Nichols (Dartmouth) and Wesley Stoner NSF No. 1424132-Nichols (Dartmouth), NSF No. 424184-Stoner (University of Arkansas).  (2014)

  • Nichols, Deborah L., and Wesley D. Stoner, eds. The Altica Project. Special Section. Ancient Mesoamerica.