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Faculty & Staff Directory

Christopher Beekman, Ph.D.

Email: Christopher Beekman
Office Location: Admin 270C
Phone: (303) 556-6040
Fax: (303) 556-8501
Office hours: Research Leave, Spring 2013
Areas of Expertise
Archaeological Theory and Method, Mesoamerican Archaeology, Political Systems and Ideology of Rulership, Landscape, Identity, Traditional Agriculture ​​​​

Education & Degrees

​Dr. Beekman received his B.A. in Anthropology from California State University San Bernardino in 1985, during which time he pursued archaeological fieldwork in California, Ecuador, and Egypt. He pursued graduate studies at Vanderbilt University, working in El Salvador, Guatemala, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Mexico. He received his Ph.D. in 1996 based on fieldwork in the state of Jalisco, western Mexico, where he continues his research into ancient Mesoamerican society. He taught at Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne, University of Louisville, and the University of Michigan before joining the University of Colorado in 2001.​​


Dr. Beekman’s research has since graduate school revolved around issues in ancient political organization and scales of social identity (individual agency, corporate group, and ethnic identity). The sociopolitical system of the Tequila valleys, Jalisco, from ca. 1000 BC to AD 600 provides a distinctive case study in which power was shared between multiple lineages, subverting both individual identity and hierarchical power structures based on a single royal lineage. I have pursued this research through excavation at the settlements of Navajas and Llano Grande, study of the depiction of rulership in contemporary artwork, and computer simulation in collaboration with Dr. William Baden of Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne. I will soon begin a large scale survey project in collaboration with Dr. Verenice Heredia of the Colegio de Michoacán that elaborates upon this research to evaluate the rise and demise of this political system.
A second research thread has been the integration of linguistic, biological, ethnohistoric, and archaeological evidence to investigate the introduction of Nahuatl speaking migrants into parts of highland Mesoamerica in the 6th century AD. A regional scale analysis identified a good degree of overlap between biology and the use of material culture, but a detailed site-specific study at Tula identified a much more complex situation in which migrants and the indigenous population used material culture to signal claims about identity and affiliation. Much of this research has been in collaboration with Dr. Alec Christensen of JPAC-CILHI.
He has served as undergraduate advisor for Anthropology (2005-2008), graduate program director (2009-2011), and is currently department chair (2011-).

Select Publications

Beekman, Christopher S. and William W. Baden. In press. "El cultivo del maíz y su impacto regional: Agotamiento de los suelos en el corredor de La Venta, Jalisco." In Patrones de asentamiento y actividades de subsistencia en el Occidente de México, edited by Eduardo Williams y Phil C. Weigand. Colegio de Michoacán, Zamora.

Beekman, Christopher S. and Alexander F. Christensen. 2011. "Power, Agency, and Identity: Migration and Aftermath in the Mezquital Area of North-Central Mexico." In Current developments in the anthropological study of past human migration, edited by Graciela S. Cabana and Jeffrey J. Clark, pp. 147-171. University Press of Florida.

Beekman, Christopher S. 2010. "Recent Research in Western Mexican Archaeology." Journal of Archaeological Research 18(1): 41-109. Online DOI 10.1007/s10814-009-9034-x.
Beekman, Christopher S. 2008. "Corporate Power Strategies in the Late Formative to Early Classic Tequila valleys of central Jalisco." Latin American Antiquity 19(4): 414-434.
Weigand, Phil C., Christopher Beekman, and Rodrigo Esparza, editors. 2008. La Tradición Teuchitlán. Colegio de Michoacán, Zamora, México.

Beekman, Christopher S. and William W. Baden, editors. 2005. Nonlinear Models for Archaeology and Anthropology: Continuing the Revolution. Ashgate Press, Aldershot, U.K.
Beekman, Christopher S. 2005. "Agency, Collectivities, and Emergence: Social Theory and Agent Based Simulations." In: Nonlinear Models for Archaeology and Anthropology: Continuing the Revolution, edited by Christopher S. Beekman and William W. Baden, pp. 51-78. Ashgate Press, Aldershot, U.K.

Beekman, Christopher S.
2003. "Agricultural Pole Rituals and Rulership in Late Formative Central Jalisco." Ancient Mesoamerica 14(2): 299-318.

Beekman, Christopher S. 2003. "Fruitful Symmetry: Corn and Cosmology in the Public Architecture of Late Formative and Early Classic Jalisco." Mesoamerican Voices 1: 5-22.

Beekman, Christopher S. and Alexander F. Christensen. 2003. "Controlling for Doubt and Uncertainty through multiple lines of evidence: A new look at the Mesoamerican Nahua migrations." Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 10(2): 111-164.

Courses Taught

ANTH 1302: Introduction to Archaeology

ANTH 3301: World Prehistory

ANTH 4320/5320: Archaeology of Mexico and Central America

ANTH 4400/5400: Archaeology of Power and Inequality

ANTH 4570/5570: Landscape Archaeology

ANTH 4810/5810: Integrating Anthropology

ANTH 6307: Archaeological Research Design

ANTH 6317: Contemporary Perspectives in Archaeological Theory