Dr. Claire Ebert

BVAR Project Director

Dr. Claire Ebert is an anthropological archaeologist interested in the role of human-environment interactions in the emergence of cultural complexity among the ancient Maya. She has been a member of the BVAR Project since 2012. She received her PhD from The Pennsylvania State University in 2017 is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh. Claire’s research investigates the complex dynamics between people and their environments throughout the Holocene using method from environmental archaeology and archaeometry, including stable isotope analyses and radiocarbon dating. In particular, she interested in the Preclassic (1200 BC-AD 300) Maya of the Belize Valley and their social, economic, and environmental adaptations of the region’s earliest farming communities. She has also participated in archaeological projects at the Maya site of Palenque, in Hawaii, Africa, Arizona, and New Mexico.  

Claire oversees field and lab research conducted at the sites of Cahal Pech and Xunantunich, along with Dr. Jaime Awe. Her recent in investigations at Cahal Pech focused on excavating a Middle Preclassic E-Group assemblage. In upcoming field seasons, she plans to ground-truth the results of recent geophysics analyses in major plazas and conduct excavations in the Cahal Pech palace. Claire is also working on a new research project to examine the intensification of food production in relation to evolving tropical forest environments and climatic change during the Archaic period. While fluctuations in climate are often associated with societal collapse, instead this project examines the role of climate in the intensification of food production, permanent sedentism, and the development of societal ranking.

As a co-instructor of the BVAR summer field school, Claire also leads several ongoing projects in collaboration with other project members that provide students with opportunities to engage in different forms of archaeological analysis in the field with BVAR and in the Paleoecology and Isotope Geochemistry Lab at Pitt. Current projects include:

  • Ancient Maya human-animal interaction

  • Upper Belize Valley obsidian technological analysis and geochemical sourcing

  • Upper Belize Valley lidar (light detection and ranging) analysis project

  • Typological and geochemical compositional analyses of Early Preclassic (1200-1000 BC) and Middle Preclassic (1000 BC-AD 300) pottery

A list of her recent publications with other BVAR Project members can be found here.