Laura Villamil

Assistant Professor

Office: Sabin 231
Phone: (414)229-3396


Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
B.A., University of California, Berkley

Research Narrative:

Laura’s of expertise is Mesoamerican archaeology, and in particular the ancient Maya, but she is also interested in the comparative study of the world’s first civilizations. Her research has addressed the relationship between the development of archaic states and different patterns of urbanization. She is interested in how different social, political, and economic strategies were given material form in the built environment of ancient cities; how the built environment was used to shape, reinforce, and transform social relations; how spatial strategies changed through time as states matured; and the theoretical implications of these processes for our understanding of ancient cities. More recently her research has shifted to investigate the aftermath of societal collapse. She is interested in the archaeology of displaced populations, refugees, and squatters. Her goal is to understand how post-collapse communities formed and functioned and to identify how different social, political, ideological, and economic strategies may have contributed to societal regeneration.

Dr. Villamil has directed a regional project in south-central Quintana Roo, Mexico since 1998. More recently she has co-directed (with Jason Sherman) the Proyecto Arqueológico Centro de Quintana Roo focused on the site of Margarita where she has documented the material remains of large post-collapse community. She has also participated in archaeological projects in highland Mexico, Belize, and the western and southeastern United States.

Other Relevant Activities:

Co-organizer, Midwest Mesoamericanist Meeting, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, March 19 & 20, 2010
Co-director of the Margarita Archaeological Project in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Courses Taught:

Anth 103: Digging up the Past: Approaches to Archaeology
Anth 311: The World of the Ancient Maya
Anth 565: Topics in Regional Archaeology: The Maya
Anth 651: Seminar in Anthropology: Ancient Cities

Recent Publications:

2009. Ancient Maya Cityscapes: Insights from Lagartera and Margarita, Quintana Roo, Mexico. BAR International Series Archaeopress, Oxford.

2008. Creating, transforming, rejecting, and reinterpreting Ancient Maya urban landscapes: insights from Lagartera and Margarita. In Norman Yoffee (ed.), Identity, Memory, and Landscape in Archaeological Research, pp 183-214. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

2005. Investigating Urban Diversity in South-Central Quintana Roo, Mexico. Laura P. Villamil and Jason Sherman. In Justine M. Shaw and Jennifer Matthews (eds), Quintana Roo Archaeology, pp 197-213. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.