Sanders was a tireless fieldworker. He excavated and surveyed in many parts of Mesoamerica. His dedication in the field and his insights into the archaeological record made a lasting impression on me. When doing fieldwork, I still sometimes wonder what would Bill Sanders think about a particular context or situation or find.
I don't need to mention the accomplishments of William Sanders. He received most of the honors and awards that an archaeologist can get, he achieved the respect of the entire profession, and he was a larger than life figure in Mesoamerican archaeology. I'm sure that some very good obituaries will be published before long. I could not find a complete bibliography of his works on line, and I hope that such a list will be forthcoming.
Of greatest relevance to this blog, William Sanders published prolifically. Most or all of his many fieldwork projects have been published in the form of detailed data reports as well as interpretive studies. Few archaeologists can claim to have published as many data reports (WorldCat has 40 books listed). Many were published through the series, “Occasional Papers in Anthropology” at
Sanders also published some of the most influential syntheses of Mesoamerican archaeology.
Sanders always liked a good argument (as anyone who ever hung around Mesoamericanists at a meeting of the Society for American Archaeology can attest), and many of his debates were carried out in journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews. Published critiques and debates are essential for the health of archaeology, and Bill’s contributions were models of scientific argument. He always focused on the data and the issues, without the ad hominen attacks that are unfortunately all too frequent in archaeology today. I considered it a badge of honor that my very first professional conference paper (at the 1976 SAA meetings) was attacked by Bill Sanders. I wish there was time at such conferences now for discussion and questions after papers (although such time constraints did not always seem to bother Bill.....)
I’ll stop here; I could easily go on and on about William Sanders. I always had great respect and admiration for him as a scholar and as a person, and I was proud to count him as a mentor, a colleague, and a friend. His contributions to publishing in archaeology are matched by few. He also has the distinction of publishing a paper with one of my favorite titles: “The Jolly Green Giant in Tenth Century Yucatan” (Sanders 1979).
Sanders, William T. (1979) The Jolly Green Giant in Tenth Century Yucatan, or Fact and Fancy in Classic Maya Agriculture (review of Prehispanic Maya Agriculture, ed. Harrison and Turner). Reviews in Anthropology 6:493-506.
Sanders, William T., Jeffrey R. Parsons and Robert S. Santley (1979) The Basin of Mexico: Ecological Processes in the Evolution of a Civilization. Academic Press, New York.
Sanders, William T. and Barbara J. Price (1968)
A VERY SHORT LIST OF A FEW OF HIS IMPORTANT PUBLICATIONS:
- Sanders, William T. (1949) The "Urban Revolution" in Central Mexico. Undergraduate Honors Thesis Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University.
- Sanders, William T. (1956) The Central Mexican Symbiotic Region: A Study in Prehistoric Settlement Patterns. In Prehistoric Settlement Patterns in the New World, edited by Gordon R. Willey, pp. 115-27. Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology. vol. 23. Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, New York.
- Sanders, William T. (1967) Life in a Classic village. In Teotihuacán: Onceva Mesa Redonda, pp. 123-43. Sociedad Mexicana de Antropología, Mexico City.
- Sanders, William T. (1994-2000) The Teotihuacan Valley Project, Final Report. Occasional Papers in Anthropology. 5 vols. Department of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
- Sanders, William T. (1999) Three Valleys: Twenty-Five Years of Settlement Archaeology in Mesoamerica. In Settlement Pattern Studies in the Americas: Fifty Years Since Virú, edited by Brian R. Billman and Gary M. Feinman, pp. 12-21. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.
- Sanders, William T., Alba Guadalupe Mastache and Robert H. Cobean (editors) (2003) El urbanismo en mesoamérica / Urbanism in Mesoamerica. Proyecto Urbanismo dn Mesoamérica / The Mesoamerican Urbanism Project vol. 1. Pennsylvania State University and Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, University Park and Mexico City.
- Sanders, William T. and Joseph W. Michels (editors) (1977) Teotihuacan and Kaminaljuyu. Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
- Sanders, William T., Jeffrey R. Parsons and Robert S. Santley (1979) The Basin of Mexico: Ecological Processes in the Evolution of a Civilization. Academic Press, New York.
- Sanders, William T. and Barbara J. Price (1968) Mesoamerica: The Evolution of a Civilization. Random House, New York.
- Sanders, William T. and Robert S. Santley (1983) A Tale of Three Cities: Energetics and Urbanization in Pre-Hispanic Central Mexico. In Prehistoric Settlement Patterns: Essays in Honor of Gordon R . Willey, edited by Evon Z. Vogt and Richard Leventhal, pp. 243-291. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
- Sanders, William T. and David Webster (1988) The Mesoamerican Urban Tradition. American Anthropologist 90:521-546.
I've posted a List of books by William T. Sanders on WORLDCAT.