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Amy Hirshman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor - Anthropology


Dr. Amy Hirshman (Ph.D. Michigan State University) specializes in the ancient western Mesoamerican Tarascan state (AD 1350-1525). Her work has appeared in a number of edited volumes and journals such as Ancient Mesoamerica, Ethnoarchaeology, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, and Journal of Archaeological Science. Her broad interests in social complexity, material culture and political economy have been brought to bear on many multi-method research projects on the emergence of the Tarascan state and the interrelationship between states, households, and craft production. Her current research projects include contextualizing the contemporary ethnographic record of regional potters to better understand the organization of ceramic production in the archaeological record from the Lake Pátzcuaro Basin, Michoacán, México, the Tarascan state core. She is also conducting petrographic analysis of ceramics and ceramic resources from several sites within the basin in order to understand the complex nature of the long-lived and diverse ceramic paste recipes found in both pre-state and state contexts. Dr. Hirshman currently teaches courses on Mesoamerica, ancient states, biological anthropology and material culture.  She was instrumental to the development of the standalone major in anthropology at WVU. In addition to the research publications mentioned above, she has also published on pedagogy in Strategies in Teaching Anthropology

Selected Publications

Cohen, Anna S., Hirshman, Amy J., Pierce, Daniel E., and Jeffrey R. Ferguson. 2022 “Local Production and Developing core Regions: Ceramic Charact5erization in the Lake Pátzcuaro Basin, Western Mexico.” Latin American Antiquity. DOI:  

Rosencrance, Richard L. and Amy J. Hirshman. 2021 “Over the Hills and Far Away: Middle to Late Woodland Archaeology and Toolstone Conveyance at Hyre Mound (46RD1), West Virginia.” North American Archaeologist 42 (2)140-176. Doi: 10.1177/0197693120976316.  

 Hirshman, Amy J. 2021 “A Case of Archeological Classification.” In Crossing Borders, making Connections: Interdisciplinarity in Linguistics, Allison Burkette and Tamara Warhol, eds., pp. 143-167. Boston: de Gruyter Mouton.  

 Hirshman, Amy J. 2020 ““They too Can Help”: Hidden Producers and Flexibility in the Organization of Collaborative Labor in Pottery-making Households in Michoacán, México from the 1940 to 2020.” Ethnoarchaeology 12 (1): 1-20. Doi: 10.1080/19442890.2020.1735095. 

Pollard, helen Perlstein and Amy J. Hirshman. 2018. “La producción y el intercambio de cerámica prehispánica en la Cuenca del lago de Pátzcuaro.” In Cerámica en México: El universo téchnico, social y cognitivo del alfarero prehispánico, edited by Annick Daneels and Chloé pomedio, pp. 305-318. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, México D. F. 

Hirshman, Amy J. 2018. Product Continuity and Change in Persistent Household Ceramic Production:  The Tarascan Case.” In Ceramics of Ancient Americas:  Multidisciplinary approaches, edited by Yumi Park Huntington, Dean E. Arnold, and Johanna Minich, pp. 335-354. University press of Florida, Gainesville. 

Hirshman, Amy J. 2017. Documenting Accommodation and Change in the Tarascan Ceramic Economy. In Innovative Approaches and Exploration in Ceramic Case Studies, edited by Sandra L. López Varela, pp. 41-52. Archaeopress Archaeology, Oxford, UK. 

Hirshman, Amy J. 2017. Documenting Accommodation and Change in the Tarascan Ceramic Economy. In Innovative Approaches and Exploration in Ceramic Case Studies, edited by Sandra L. López Varela, pp. 41-52. Archaeopress Archaeology, Oxford, UK.

Hirshman, Amy J. and David Haskell. 2016. “Evaluating Contrasting Models of Ceramic Production in the Tarascan State:  Negotiations in Clay.”  In Cultural Dynamics and Production Activities in Ancient Western Mexico, edited by Eduardo Williams and Blanca Maldonado, pp. 201-214. British Archaeological Reports International Series, Oxford, UK.   
Hirshman, Amy J. and Christopher J. Stawski. 2013. “Distribution, Transportation, and the Persistence of Household Ceramic Production in the Tarascan State.”  Ethnoarchaeology 5 (1):1-23.  Doi:  10.1179/1944289013Z.0000000002
Hirshman, Amy J. and Jeffry R. Ferguson. 2012. “Temper mixture models and assessing ceramic complexity in the emerging Tarascan state.”  Journal of Archaeological Sciences 39 (10):3195-3207.  Doi:10.1016/j.jas.2012.05.003 

Courses Taught at WVU 

  • ANTH 105 Introduction to Anthropology
  • ANTH 250 Archaeology Laboratory (regular and Honors sections)
  • ANTH 252 Biological Anthropology (regular and Honors sections)
  • ANTH 254 Cultural Anthropology
  • ANTH 258 Introduction to Archaeology
  • ANTH 354 Mesoamerican Archaeology
  • ANTH 359 World Prehistory
  • ANTH 389 Writing in Sociology/Anthropology
  • ANTH 450 Archaeology of Ancient States
  • ANTH 488 The Capstone Experience
  • ANTH 490 Teaching Practicum (regular and Honors sections)
  • ANTH 491 Professional Field Experience
  • ANTH 451 Anthropology of Material Culture
  • ANTH 495 Independent Study
  • ANTH 497 Research