Matthew J. Liebmann

Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Archaeology Program at Harvard University
Peabody Museum 57I
11 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

(617) 496-3125
liebmann [at]

Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D. 2006 University of Pennsylvania, Department of Anthropology
Dissertation title: “Burn the Churches, Break Up the Bells”: The Archaeology of the Pueblo Revolt Revitalization Movement in New Mexico, A.D. 1680-1696

B.A. 1996 Boston College, Departments of English and Theology


My primary research focuses on the archaeology of the Southwest U.S., with a specialization in the contact period and the historic-era Pueblos of New Mexico. I am particularly interested in the changes to Indigenous life that occurred during the 17th century following the arrival of Europeans into the northern Rio Grande region. More generally, my research interests include the archaeology of colonialism; revitalization movements; the material culture of conversion and apostasy; archaeologies of resistance; postcolonial theory; and NAGPRA.

The main subject matter of my research has been the archaeology of the Pueblo Revolt era (1680-1700) in the Jemez Province of New Mexico. Over the past decade I have investigated the ways in which the Jemez people revitalized and memorialized their identities in the wake of the uprising of 1680. As a result, my research explores the materiality of revitalization movements, examining the instantiation of nativism and revivalism in the archaeological record.

Methodologically, I am committed to collaboration with descendant communities and improving relations among archaeologists and Native Americans. A vital component of my work entails collaboration with the Pueblo of Jemez (particularly the Jemez Department of Resource Protection), and I work with tribal members in the formulation of research designs, data collection, interpretation, and presentation of the final results. We tend to use non-invasive techniques as part of our research methods, and as a result I have developed a secondary interest in 'surface archaeology' and archaeological survey and mapping techniques that combine elements of large-scale, 'landscape' archaeology with more traditional, site-based investigations.

Theoretically, my interests include postcolonialism; semiotics; Indigenous and collaborative archaeologies; and material culture theory/materiality.

Books and Edited Volumes

*Peer-reviewed publications

2012*- Revolt: An Archaeological History of Pueblo Resistance and Revitalization in 17th Century New Mexico. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Published in cooperation with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 is the most renowned colonial uprisings in the history of the American Southwest. Traditional text-based accounts tend to focus on the revolt and the Spaniards' reconquest in 1692--completely skipping over the years of indigenous independence that occurred in between. Revolt boldly breaks out of this mold and examines the aftermath of the uprising in colonial New Mexico, focusing on the radical changes it instigated in Pueblo culture and society.

2011*- Enduring Conquests: Rethinking the Archaeology of Resistance to Spanish Colonialism in the Americas, edited by Matthew Liebmann and Melissa S. Murphy. SAR Press, Santa Fe.

Enduring Conquests presents new interpretations of Native American experiences under Spanish colonialism and challenges the reader to reexamine long-standing assumptions about the Spanish conquests of the Americas. The contributors to this volume reject the grand narrative that views this era as a clash of civilizations a narrative produced centuries after the fact to construct more comprehensive and complex social histories of Native American life after 1492 by employing the perspective of archaeology and focusing explicitly on the native side of the colonial equation.

2008*- Archaeology and the Postcolonial Critique, edited by Matthew Liebmann and Uzma Z. Rizvi Altamira Press, Lanham, MD.

In recent years, postcolonial theories have emerged as one of the significant paradigms of contemporary academia, affecting disciplines throughout the humanities and social sciences. These theories address the complex processes if colonialism on culture and society--with repect to both the colonizers and the colonized--to help us understand the colonial experience in its entirety. The contributors to Archaeology and the Postcolonial Critique present critical syntheses of archaeological and postcolonial studies by examining both Old and New World case studies, and they ask what the ultimate effect of postcolonial theorizing will be on the practice of archaeology in the twenty-first century.

Articles and Book Chapters
*Peer-reviewed publications

In press (2012)*- Parsing Hybridity: Archaeologies of Amalgamation in Seventeenth Century New Mexico.  In Hybrid Material Culture: The Archaeology of Syncretism and Ethnogenesis, edited by Jeb Card.  Center for Archaeological Investigations, SIU-Carbondale.

2012*- The Rest is History:  Devaluing the Recent Past in the Archaeology of the Pueblo Southwest.  In "Decolonizing Indigenous Histories: Exploring Prehistoric/ Colonial Transitions in Archaeology,” edited by Siobhan M. Hart, Maxine Oland, and Liam Frink.  University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

2011*- The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: Pueblo Resistance and Accommodation during the Spanish Reconquista of New Mexico. In Enduring Conquests: Rethinking the Archaeology of Resistance to Spanish Colonialism in the Americas, edited by M. Liebmann and M. S. Murphy. SAR Press, Santa Fe.

2011- Liebmann, Matthew, and Melissa S. Murphy. Rethinking the Archaeology of Rebels, Backsliders, and Idolaters. In Enduring Conquests: Rethinking the Archaeology of Resistance to Spanish Colonialism in the Americas, edited by M. Liebmann and M. S. Murphy. SAR Press, Santa Fe.

2010- The Battle of Astialakwa: Conflict Archaeology of the Spanish Reconquest in Northern New Mexico. Forthcoming in The SAA Archaeological Record.

2010- Liebmann, Matthew and Christopher Toya. Foreword. In Pecos Pueblo Revisited, edited by M. Morgan. Peabody Museum Press, Cambridge.

2008*- The Innovative Materiality of Revitalization Movements: Lessons from the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. American Anthropologist 110(3):360-372.

2008*- The Intersections of Archaeology and Postcolonial Studies. In Archaeology and the Postcolonial Critique, edited by M. Liebmann and U. Rizvi, pp. 1-20. Altamira Press, Lanham, MD.

2008*- Postcolonial Cultural Affiliation: Essentialism, Hybridity, and NAGPRA. In Archaeology and the Postcolonial Critique, edited by M. Liebmann and U. Rizvi, pp. 73-90. Altamira Press, Lanham, MD.

2007*- Liebmann, Matthew and Robert W. Preucel. The Archaeology of the Pueblo Revolt and the Formation of the Modern Pueblo World. Kiva: The Journal of Southwestern Anthropology and History 73(2):195-217.

2007- The Archaeology of Jemez Resistance and Revitalization in the Pueblo Revolt Era. Archaeology Southwest 21(2):17.

2006- The Spanish Colonial Period in the Lands of the “Backsliding, Apostate Rebels of the Jemez Nation.” In Proceedings of the First Annual New Mexico Archaeological Council Field Conference. Vol. 1: Valles Caldera and Jemez River Corridor, edited by B. Doleman, A. Steffen, and T. Seaman, pp. 114-123.

2005*- Liebmann, Matthew, T.J. Ferguson, and Robert W. Preucel. Pueblo Settlement, Architecture, and Social Change in the Pueblo Revolt Era, A.D. 1680-1696. Journal of Field Archaeology 30(1):45-60.

2002*- Signs of Power and Resistance: The (Re)Creation of Christian Imagery and Identities in the Pueblo Revolt Era. In Archaeologies of the Pueblo Revolt, edited by Robert W. Preucel. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

2002- Reply to Schlesier. Plains Anthropologist 47(183):393-395

2002*- Demystifying the Big Horn Medicine Wheel: A Contextual Analysis of Symbolism, Meaning, and Function. Plains Anthropologist 47(180):46-56.



Anthropology 1080: North American Archaeology Lost Tribes and Ancient Capitals of Native America

Course Description: Have you ever wondered what life was like in America before 1492? When did the first people arrive in the Western Hemisphere? How did Native American languages, cultures, and societies develop in the millennia before written history? Why don’t we hear more about the ancient history of Native North America? In this course you will have the opportunity to explore the art, architecture, and artifacts left behind by the people who inhabited this continent over the past 15,000 years. This class will allow you to examine a truly world-class collection of artifacts from the Peabody Museum, giving you the unique opportunity to hold the material remains of Native American history in your own hands, and investigate the past with your own eyes. Take Anthropology 1080 and you’ll be introduced to the discipline of North American archaeology, examining the history you didn’t learn in high school. No prerequisites. This course is open to all students.

Anthropology 1190: Encountering the Conquistadors: The Archaeology of Indigenous Responses to the Spanish Conquest

Course Description: This course examines the effects of the Spanish Conquest on indigenous peoples of the Americas between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, providing an introduction to the archaeology of first encounters in the Caribbean, Southeast and Southwest US, Mesoamerica, the Amazon basin, and in the Andes. Topics addressed include the roles of disease, indigenous politics, native rebellions, and ecological change in the colonization of the “New” World. Special emphasis will be placed on the conquest/invasion experiences of the Taino, Aztec, Inca, and Pueblo peoples, based primarily on archaeological and historical evidence. Upon successful completion of this class students will be knowledgeable about indigenous societies of the Americas from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, narratives of Spanish contact and conquest, the impacts of colonization on the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere, and how we know what we think we know about the archaeology of the Americas immediately pre- and post-contact.

course website | syllabus

  Anthropology 2070a:  Archaeological Method and Theory

Course Description:
This graduate-level seminar considers the varied ways in which archaeologists make inferences about human behavior from the archaeological record. The course will review the principal interpretive frameworks that influence archaeological practice in the Anglo-American world. Beginning with an overview of major debates in the discipline during the past half-century, Anthro 2070a will go on to consider diverse topics that shape the field of archaeology today, including the use of analogy, Middle Range Theory, symbolism and meaning, social and cultural evolution, cognitive archaeology, feminist critiques, practice theory, and postcolonialism. The intent is to provide graduate students with a solid foundation in archaeological theory, resulting in an ability to understand, critically assess, and contribute to debates concerning the construction of contemporary archaeological discourse.


  Anthropology 2085: Archaeology of Religion and Ritual

Course Description:
This graduate seminar explores ritual and religious practices in archaeological contexts. Topics to be covered include anthropological perspectives on religion; origins of religion; religion and political economy; burial practices; materiality in/of ritual practice; and revitalization movements.

The course is designed for graduate students who wish to bring a cross-cultural perspective on ritual and religion to bear on their own research on archaeological data or contexts in a particular region. Undergraduates are welcome.  The goal of the class is not to instill any one particular perspective but instead to provide students with a broad exposure to many of the contemporary issues in the field.  


Mano and metate at the ancestral Jemez village of Astialakwa.

Jemez Black on white ceramics.

Warrior Petroglyph, Jemez Valley, New Mexico.

Topographic maps of the ancestral Jemez village of Patokwa.

Matt with Patrick, Ebanicio, and Cyrus (the next generation of Jemez archaeologists) at the ancestral Jemez site of Kiabakwa.

2012 President & Fellows of Harvard College | Harvard University Home | Department of Anthroplogy