Mexico - Ethnohistorical


The purpose of this field program is to introduce students to innovative research methods in the integration of archaeology, art history, ethnohistory, and ethnography. Mexico in general and the vast state of Oaxaca in particular create an ideal research environment, where the indigenous cultures constructed monumental sites, ruled over city-states, invented complex writing systems, and crafted among the finest artistic traditions in the world, some of which are still perpetuated to this day. The clash of the Indigenous and the European worlds in the 16th century created a most unique culture, the legacy of which underlies the modern nation of Mexico.  By traveling through the mountains, valleys, and coasts of Oaxaca and immersing themselves in this rich study environment, students will gain direct experience with archaeological, ethnohistorical, and ethnographic research methods and resources. In addition, the course aims to provide insights into the practicalities of conducting academic research in Mexico, by visiting research institutes and hearing on-site lectures from local experts.  A broader question to be addressed is how new modes of inquiry in archaeology can reflect on approaches more consistent with the logic inherent in the scientific method. This interactive course will explore methods that avoid one-sided dependencies, and will link the past and present through the exploration of those surviving ancient sites and living communities which are directly referenced in the ethnohistorical records. 

Mexico Ethnohistorical Field School - Institute for Field Research Field Schools Mexico - Ethnohistorical18-352014-06-20
Course Dates: Jun 15 - Jul 12 2014
Enrollment Status: CLOSED 
Total Cost: $ 4,600 
Course Type: Ethnohistorical Archaeology
Instructors: Dr. John Pohl,  
Dr. Danny Zborover



John Pohl

Dr. John Pohl

Dr. Pohl ( is an Adjunct Faculty at the Department of Art History at UCLA & Department of Anthropology at California State University Los Angeles.
Danny Zborover

Dr. Danny Zborover

Dr. Zborover ( is a Research Associate at the Center for US-Mexican Studies at the University of California San Diego, and the Director of the Chontalpa Historical Archaeological Project. For more information, click here


"Choosing to take part in this program has been, without a doubt, one of the greatest decisions I have made in the course of my academic career. I was initially drawn to this particular field school because of the unique opportunity for students to travel between archaeological sites and experience such a large part of Mexico’s immense cultural diversity, both past and present. At each of the sites we visited, we were taught to use art historical materials and ethnographic techniques to reconstruct elements of culture which, when studied in tandem with material artifacts, provide an understanding of archaeological context far greater than that allowed by excavation alone. Furthermore, this remarkable program teaches students to collaborate with local people and utilize cultural knowledge to conduct research that is better guided from the start, thus minimizing destruction to a site and its surrounding landscape, while respecting and preserving the community in which it lies. I was continually awed by the amazing quality of our professors, leaders in their field, who were equal parts brilliant, supportive, and thoroughly inspiring. They made a point of introducing students to a huge variety of potential research opportunities, and were dedicated to helping us find places to focus our specific interests and talents within a large, and otherwise intimidating field. This program has inspired me to continue doing research back at UCLA, and has given me both the practical skills and confidence to pursue a career in the field of Mesoamerican archaeology."

- Celsiana Gera, UCLA (2013)

"The IFR program is a unique and rewarding experience that has directly influenced the path I’ve taken in my academic life. It has inspired me to continue pursuing further research in pre-Columbian art with Professor Pohl at UCLA. Professor Pohl and Danny Zborover created an environment in which we could contribute to the discourse of pre-Columbian and early Colonial cultural and physical landscapes. I feel very fortunate to be able to learn from their vast knowledge of the Valley of Mexico, the Plain of Puebla, the Valley of Oaxaca and the Nochixtlan Valley. The program is multifaceted and allows students to explore different areas of interests in pre-Columbian Mexico. As a leading expert in the field, Professor Pohl conducts the program in a manner that encompasses ethnohistorical and art historical methodologies. In doing so, we were able to use Mixtec codices, maps, and lienzos to analyze the landscape of the Nochixtlan Valley and relate our findings to present day communities that were the locations of the events portrayed in the codices. Learning to read the codices was truly fascinating, but our interactions with the local indigenous people we encountered were just as thrilling. In speaking to the direct descendants of the original inhabitants and writing ethnographies, we can further support our findings from the codices. I can honestly say that I’ve never had this much fun in an academic environment. I walked away from this trip with lasting friendships and a better understanding of myself and the world around. Everyday was an adventure with endless opportunities to learn. I highly recommend this field school to anyone interested in fully immersing one’s self in the culture of Mexico, while working in a truly interdisciplinary approach."

- Gabriela Hernandez, UCLA (2013)




Student Fees

Early Enrollment Begins November 15 - Full payment must be received by April 1  
(Full Payment = Deposit + Tuition)
 Payment by Cashier or Personal Check Payment by Credit Card/Debit Card
Deposit:500 USD Deposit: 510 USD 
Tuition: 4,100 USD Tuition: 4,190 USD 

Late Enrollment Begins April 2 - Full payment must be received 10 days prior to course start date
(Full Payment = Deposit + Tuition)
 Payment by Cashier or Personal Check Payment by Credit Card/Debit Card
Deposit:500 USD Deposit: 510 USD 
Tuition: 4,200 USD Tuition: 4,290 USD 


Students will be staying in hotels in Oaxaca City and in local inns while traveling to the Mixteca and the coast. All students will be sharing a room based on room size and availability. Students who will take the optional fifth week extension will stay in local hotels at Cholula and Mexico City.   

MEALS:  All meals will be communal events.  Oaxacan food is a wonderful blend of European and indigenous cuisines, and dining there is a cultural experience in itself. Specialized diets (vegan, kosher, etc.) are difficult to maintain, and vegetarians might find options fairly limited. Monday through Saturday, breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided by the program. Students are responsible for their Sunday meals.