Stoner’s primary region of research is Mesoamerica, one of the six regions of the world where ancient civilization developed independently. He has conducted archaeological fieldwork in southern Veracruz on the Gulf Coast of Mexico and in the central Mexican highlands. His most recent fieldwork is focused on a small village site called Altica that is the oldest known site in the Teotihuacan Valley (~1250-850 BC). This region later hosted Mesoamerica's most populous city, Teotihuacan (~AD 1-650). Wes's research at Altica aims to understand the social, political, and economic foundations that led to the later evolution of such a large and socially complex city.
As the project in the Teotihuacan Valley winds down, Wes is turning his attention to intensive agricultural practices during the Classic period (AD 200-800) Gulf lowlands. In the wetlands of southern Veracruz, ancient peoples dug field-and-canal systems to irrigate and/or drain their agricultural fields. This is an ingenious system that made peoples more resilient to annual fluctuations in rainfall and it extended the growing season making harvest of at least one extra crop per year possible. Ancient peoples dug these systems over thousands of acres of land. Using high-resolution elevation data we can model water flow within the fields and simulate the adaptability of the system with different rainfall models. We can also compare the location of the fields to both residences and monumental architecture to understand the mechanisms by which people of status appropriated agricultural surplus to support themselves and ritual feasts that they coordinated.