University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Bell, Ellen E., Ph.D.

Ellen E. Bell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Geography, and Ethnic Studies, California State University, Stanislaus
Elected: 1999 (Department of Anthropology)

Ellen earned a B.A. in Anthropology from Kenyon College in 1991 and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007. Her area of specialty is Mesoamerican Archaeology. Her dissertation, entitled "Early Classic Ritual Deposits within the Copan Acropolis: The Material Foundations of Political Power at a Classic Period Maya Center," focused on ritual deposits at the site of Copan, located in western Honduras. These include the Hunal and Margarita tombs, thought to have held the remains of the first king of the Classic period Copan dynasty, K'inich Yax K'uk' Mo', who reigned from 426–437, as well an important woman, most likely his queen. Her research interests include: Mesoamerican archaeology, material culture studies, political organization, archaeology of gender, Maya epigraphy and iconography, household archaeology, anthropology of religion and ritual, and the history of Mesoamerican archaeology.

Ellen has been a faculty member at C.S.U., Stanislaus since 2007. She is presently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Institute for Archaeological Research. She also advises the Anthropology Club. In 2010–2011 she was a Dumbarton Oaks Fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies, investigating the topic of "Objects of Power on the Edge of the Maya World: Early Copan Acropolis Tombs, Offerings, and Special Deposits."

Ellen is co-director of the El Paraíso Region Archaeological Project (PAREP), which investigates administrative strategies in the Classic Maya Kingdom of Copan, Honduras. She includes undergraduate and graduate students in her research projects, and works to conduct all investigations within a framework of community responsive archaeology. She is also involved in the Kenyon Honduras Digitization Project (KHDP), which is building a digital archive of over 30 years of household archaeology in western Honduras that will be accessible on-line. In the spring of 2011 she chaired and presented "Who's at the Top in a 'Top-Down' Approach?: Social Differentiation and Administrative Strategies in the El Paraíso Valley, Department of Copan, Honduras" in a poster session at the Society for American Archaeology 76th Annual Meeting in Sacramento, CA. Her publications include Understanding Early Classic Copan, published by the University of Pennsylvania Museum, several book chapters, and articles in English and Spanish journals, including Ancient Mesoamerica, The Journal of Archaeological Science, Mexicon, Expedition, and Yaxkin.


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