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Faculty Profiles

Dean Arnold, Ph.D.

Dean E. Arnold, Ph.D.

Professor of Anthropology Emeritus

On Faculty since 1973, Retired 2012

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After thirty-nine years of teaching experience at Wheaton, Dean Arnold retired in May 2012. Dr. Arnold's contributions to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology will be long remembered. After three years of teaching at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Arnold went to Universidad Nacional San Antonio Abad in Cuzco, Peru as a Fulbright lecturer. After finishing his work in Peru, Dr. Arnold came to Wheaton in 1973. He was a Fulbright scholar a second time in Mexico in 1984, returning to Yucatán, Mexico to continue his study of potters that he began in 1965. He has completed field-work in the US Southwest, Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia and has ongoing research interests in a long-term study of the relationship of social change and technological change among potters in Ticul, Yucatán, Mexico, having studied them extensively over a period of forty-three years.

Dr. Arnold is internationally known as a scholar in ceramic ethnoarchaeology, specifically the organization and technology of ceramic production. He has published numerous books and articles covering topics ranging from the ecology of production to the standardization of ceramic pastes and the social organization of potters. In 1996, he was awarded the Society for American Archaeology's Award for Excellence in Ceramic Studies >> (details). He is also a Research Associate at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Dr. Arnold received the Wheaton College Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Service to Alma Mater in 2008. His discovery is still spotlighted and appreciated by his fellow anthropologists, as seen in this recent article from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

Dr. Arnold enjoys listening to classical music and traveling. He and his wife June have two grown daughters, Michelle and Andrea.

University of Illinois, Urbana
Ph.D., Anthropology, 1970
Dissertation titled, "The Emics of Pottery Design From Quinua, Peru."

University of Illinois, Urbana
M.A., Anthropology, 1967

Wheaton College, IL
B.A., Anthropology, 1964

  • American Anthropological Association (Fellow)
  • Society for American Archaeology
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow)
  • Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
  • Associate, Current Anthropology
  • Fulbright Alumni Association (Life Member)
  • Chicago Area Chapter, Fulbright Alumni Association
  • Clare Hall, Cambridge (Life Member)
  • American Scientific Affiliation
  • Human Origins
  • Medical Anthropology 
  • Ceramics and Culture
  • Cross-Cultural Ethics
  • Latin American Peoples
  • Biculturalism
  • Pre-Columbian Civilizations
  • Senior Capstone

Individual: Dr. Arnold is currently working on several projects. He has done extensive work on the ethnography of pottery production using the study of contemporary potters to evaluate assumptions archaeologists use in their study of the past. In 1995, Dr. Arnold received $90,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to synthesize more than thirty years of research among Maya potters in Ticul, Yucatán, Mexico and to prepare a book length monograph. The purpose of the synthesis was to show the relationship of social change and technological change and to demonstrate how that relationship can be used as a tool to interpret the unwritten past. 

Dr. Arnold also has carried out research showing the relationship between the ancient pigment 'Maya Blue' and contemporary Maya culture. Maya blue is an unusual pigment consisting of the clay mineral palygorskite and indigo that was used by the ancient Maya for murals, pottery, and on human victims before they were sacrificed. In the late 1960s, he demonstrated that one of the principal components of Maya Blue, the clay mineral palygorskite, was still being used by the contemporary Maya. Through a triangulation of methodologies, he showed that the modern Yucatec Maya were aware of the unique properties of palygorskite and used it for pottery temper and for the treatment of illnesses. 

Student: Dr. Arnold has written several professional papers with students and two of them have been published. Several more are being prepared or are in press.

  • Arnold, Dean E. 2008. Social Change and the Evolution of Ceramic Production and Distribution in a Maya Community >>. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.
  • Arnold, Dean E., Jason R. Branden, Patrick Ryan Williams, Gary M. Feinman and J.P. Brown 2008. "The First Direct Evidence for the Production of Maya Blue: Rediscovery of a Technology." Antiquity 82: 152-164.
  • Arnold, Dean E., Hector Neff, Michael D. Glascock, and Robert J. Speakman 2007. "Sourcing the Palygorskite Used in Maya Blue: A Pilot Study Comparing the Results of INAA and LA-ICP-MS. Latin American Antiquity 18(1): 44-58.
  • Moshier, Stephen O., Dean E. Arnold, Larry L. Funck, Raymond J. Lewis, Albert J. Smith, John H. Walton and William R. Wharton 2007. "Theories of Origins: A Multi- and Interdisciplinary Course for Undergraduates at Wheaton College." Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith 59(4): 289-296.
  • Arnold, Dean E. 2006. "Why Are There So Few Christian Anthropologists? Reflections on the Tensions Between Christianity and Anthropology." Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 58(4): 266-282.
  • Arnold, Dean E. 2006. "Las vasijas como símbolos. El caso del gremio de alfareros de Ticul, Yucatán." In Etnoarqueología: El Contexo Dinámico de la Cultura Material a través del Tiempo, edited by Eduardo Williams (Zamora, Michoacán, Mexico: El Colegio de Michoacán, pg. 105-126.
  • Arnold, Dean E. 2005. "Early Inca Expansion and the Incorporation of Local Ethnic Groups: Ethnohistory and Archaeological Reconnaissance in the Region of Acos, Department of Cusco, Peru. Andean Past 7:219-249.
  • Arnold, Dean E. 2005. "How do Scientific Views on Human Origins Relate to the Bible?" In Not Just Science: Questions Where Christian Faith and Natural Science Intersect, eds. Dorothy F. Chappell and E. David Cook, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan) pg. 129-140.
  • Arnold, Dean E. 2005. "Maya Blue and Palygorskite: A Second Possible pre-Columbian Source." Ancient Mesoamerica 16:51-62.
  • Arnold, Dean E. 2000. "Does the Standardization of Ceramic Pastes Really Mean Specialization?" Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 7:333-375.
  • Arnold, Dean. E. 1999. "Advantages and Disadvantages of Vertical-half Molding Technology: Implications for Production Organization. "In Pottery and People: A Dynamic Interaction, edited by J. M. Skibo and G. M. Feinman, pp. 50-80. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press. (Foundations of Archaeological Inquiry Series)
  • Arnold, Dean E. 1993. Ecology of Ceramic Production in an Andean Community >>. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Arnold, Dean E. 1985. Ceramic Theory and Cultural Process >>. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. (1st Paperback Edition, 1988; 2nd printing, 1989; 3rd printing, 1997; 4th printing, 1998; now in 'on demand' reprint format.)
  • Arnold, Dean E., H. N. Neff, R. L. Bishop, and M. D. Glascock. 1999. "Testing Interpretative Assumptions of Neutron Activation Analysis: Contemporary Pottery in Yucatán, 1964 - 1994." In Material Meanings: Critical Approaches to the Interpretations of Material Culture, edited by E. Chilton, pp. 61-84. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press.
  • Arnold, Dean. E., H. N. Neff, and R. L. Bishop. 1991. "Compositional Analysis and 'Sources' of Pottery: An Ethnoarchaeological Approach." American Anthropologist 93:70-90.
  • Arnold, Dean E., H. N. Neff, and M. D. Glascock. 2000. "Testing Assumptions of Neutron Activation Analysis: Communities, Workshops and Paste Preparation In Yucatán, Mexico." Archaeometry 42:301-316.
  • Arnold, Dean E. and A. L. Nieves. 1992. "Factors Affecting Standardization." In Ceramic Production and Distribution: An Integrated Approach, edited by G. J. Bey III & C. A. Pool, pp. 93-113. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.