Heading to Oaxaca, Mexico, for the summer excavation season is a familiar ritual for UMMAA
graduate student Lacey Carpenter. She’s worked there, at a pair of sites called Tilcajete, for five summers.

This year she’s back at Tilcajete again, but things aren’t quite the same. Carpenter is in Mexico not just for the summer, but for ten months, thanks to two grants—an NSF and a Fulbright-Hays—which will fund both her excavation work and several months of artifact analysis.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have received the NSF and Fulbright-Hays grants,” wrote
Carpenter by email. “Fieldwork is a crucial component of archaeological
research and I couldn’t complete my dissertation without this support.”

The Tilcajete sites are about one kilometer apart. After the first site was
attacked and damaged—around 300 B.C.—the residents moved to the second site.
About 200 years later, enemies conquered the second site and the residents

Carpenter will excavate houses from both sites for her dissertation. “I’m interested in how families organized themselves, supported themselves, and how they interacted with political and religious leaders at the site during this time of conflict and change,” she wrote. “Few houses have ever been excavated from this time period in Oaxaca. I now have the opportunity to provide new data that can help us understand how people were affected by conflict and political change.” 

The title of Carpenter’s NSF grant was “Households and Political Transformation: Daily Life During State Formation at the Tilcajete Sites, Oaxaca, Mexico.”

Lacey Carpenter at Tilcajetes in Oaxaca, Mexico.