Christopher L. von Nagy, Ph.D.

Head, Shared History; Teaching Associate Professor
Christopher Von Nagy


Christopher von Nagy is interested in the multi-faceted public communication of the humanities, the ways in which humanities research is and can be interpreted to diverse audiences and how various communities use and understand sites, monuments and stories. He is a practicing anthropological archaeologist and public historian. He works with students and communities to develop, represent and collaboratively interpret the oral and documentary historical record - written and material. In addition, he co-directs a bi-national research project in Guerrero, Mexico, where he and his colleagues focus on the Olmec-period site of Quioptepec-Oxotitlán (Oxtotitlán Cave). There, they work in conjunction with the local Nahuatl-speaking community - in particular, the community's committee for archaeology - to understand the region's role in the development of early Mesoamerican civilization. Von Nagy's research includes the high precision documentation and contextualization of some of Mexico's oldest public art using multispectral and computational techniques, close range UAV survey and GIS, computational analysis and 3D visualization of data and traditional ethnohistoric and archaeological methodologies. Simultaneously, he is interested in the role the art and site play in the lives of the various groups who visit, study, worship and perform there.

Through his career, von Nagy has undertaken archaeological and historical research elsewhere in Mesoamerica: the Mexican states of Tabasco, Zacatecas, Yucatán and in the Alta Verapaz of Guatemala, as well in the United States. Related to his interest in environmental archaeology and the computational analysis of large datasets, he has participated in global climate research applying skills in database management and data visualization. Von Nagy has taught at both university and secondary levels and has a particular interest in place-based and experiential learning. He has also worked in curatorial roles in museum environments. He served as chair of the history department of Sage Ridge School and is a trained Montessori educator. Von Nagy received an A.B. from the University of California, Berkeley with a focus on environmental archaeology and a Ph.D. from Tulane University in New Orleans, specializing in the anthropology and archaeology of Ancient Middle America.

Research Interests

  • Public history, public archaeology and the public communication of science and humanities research
  • The digital humanities
  • The ethnohistory and archaeology of the Americas, particular of Mesoamerica
  • The origins and nature of the city

Class Materials

  • HIST/ANTH 309 Museum Studies
  • HIST 344/703 Andean Ethnohistory
  • HIST 399 History Department Practicum
  • HIST 498 The Maya World (Maya History and Epigraphy)
  • HIST 705 Maya Epigraphy readings course
  • ANTH 201 Peoples and Cultures of the World
  • ANTH 202 Archaeology
  • ANTH 425/FLL 304 Native Central and Andean America in the Post-Conquest Period and Literature About Indigenous People of Central and South America (co-taught double course)
  • ANTH 440D/640 Archaeology of Ancient New World Civilizations
  • ANTH 701 Nahua religion in the Late Postclassic and Colonial Periods
  • ANTH Practicum on close range, autonomous (drone) remote-sensing
  • RST 101 Introduction to Religious Studies


  • 2017 "Strategies for 14C Dating the Oxtotitlan Cave Paintings, Guerrero, Mexico," Advances in Archaeological Practice 5.2 (2017): 170-183. Co-Author with J. Russ, M. Pohl, H. Hurst, L. Ashby, and M. Rowe.
  • 2016 "Olmec," "Olmec and Maya Interaction." In Encyclopedia of the Ancient Maya. Ed. Walter R. T. Witschey. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 250-254.
  • 2014 "El sacrificio en la unidad política de La Venta, Tabasco." Tabasco: una visión antropológica e histórica. Ed. Miguel Ángel Rubio Jiménez and Rebeca Perales. Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico: Gobierno del Estado de Tabasco. Instituto Estatal de Cultura de Tabasco, 2014. 85-155. Co-author with Mary D. Pohl, Maria Tway, Shannon Weatherby, Lori Collins, and Travis Doering.
  • 2013 "Physicochemical Study of Black Pigments in Prehistoric Paints from Oxtotitlán Cave, Guerrero, Mexico" Co-author with Joseph McPeak, Mary Pohl, Heather Hurst, Marvin Rowe, Eliseo Padilla Gutiérrez, and Jon Russ. In Archaeological Chemistry. Edited by R.A. Armitage. Washington D.C.: American Chemical Society Books.


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, Tulane University, 2003
  • A.B., University of California, Berkeley