Joshua T. Schnell

Research Interests Bioarchaeology, Maya archaeology, Dentistry and oral care, Health and disease, Medicine and healing practices, Human body, Death and dying, Paleopathology, Ethnohistory
Ph.D. Dissertation Cultures of Oral Care in the Southern Maya Lowlands (250 BCE – 1000 CE)


Areas of Interest

My dissertation project outlines a culture of oral care among the Classic period Maya and seeks to broaden traditional understandings of Maya dentistry primarily by engaging with osteological evidence for therapeutic and hygienic practices. This project articulates with my broader interest in Classic Maya healthcare and healing practices. As an archaeologist and biological anthropologist, I am particularly concerned with the "big picture" of health in the past, including places of medicine and healing, the patient-practitioner relationship, the biosocial nature of medicinal practices, as well as the biological indicators of disease and trauma. My broader research program investigates how the Maya understood bodies (both theirs and others) through the alteration, care, and management of living people, and the disassembling and remaking of the dead. I have conducted fieldwork in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico at a variety of sites ranging from the Early Classic to Terminal Classic, including mortuary rockshelters and caves.

Previous Degrees

  • B.S. in Anthropology and B.A. in Religious Studies from Michigan State University
  • M.A. in Anthropology from Brown University