Our fieldwork during the 2024 season will focus on the site of Baking Pot. This site and others where we have worked (Cahal Pech, Xunantunich) are located on the outskirts of the modern town of San Ignacio, capital of the Cayo District of Belize, Central America (click here for a location map and general info on Belize).
Cahal Pech and Baking Pot are among the largest prehistoric Maya sites in the upper Belize River Valley and served as the capitals of medium-sized kingdoms in the Classic period (ca. AD 250-900). The BVAR Project excavations at Cahal Pech have revealed that this site is the location of some of the earliest Maya settlements in the Maya lowlands. First settled between 1200-1000 BC, the site was continuously occupied until the 10th century AD. The project will continue work at Cahal Pech to document the earliest village settlements in the Belize River Valley dating to the Early Preclassic period (1200-1000 BC).
Despite many years of investigations at Baking Pot, large portions of the monumental site core remain unexcavated and sections of the settlement area remain unexplored. Research at Baking Pot will focus on the monumental center at the palace complex of Group B, clearing sections of the palace's structures and courtyards in order to understand the timing of the abandonment of the palace by the royal court. This research will build on excavations that were conducted in the palace complex during previous field seasons.
The field school is designed for extensive exposure to archaeological methods and techniques. This program spans three weeks and includes extensive training in archaeological field techniques: survey, excavation, and artifact processing, among other skills. This option forms a complete curriculum including all lectures, site tours, and written exams and is tailored for students wishing to obtain academic credit for this field course. It is also suitable for enthusiasts seeking in-depth exposure to archaeological field experience.
Session 1: 2 to 22 June, 2024
Session 2: 30 June to 20 July, 2024
Cost: $2300.00 USD per three-week session
Notice! Please read carefully before you consider filling out our application. Thank you for your interest in our project.
All applicants must be at least 18 years old and in sufficient good health to handle the rigors of this project.
Field archaeology is physically, emotionally and mentally challenging. It is imperative that applicants be prepared to meet these challenges.
Registration fees cover weekly lodging, weekday meals, as well as transportation to and from the airport and the site.
Travel to and from Belize and incidental expenses are the responsibility of the participant. Students must book their flights on the specified session start and end dates, as the project cannot transfer students from and back to the airport on other dates.
Optional academic credit may be obtained for the program through the Northern Arizona University Center for International Education.
Additional details are provided in the application form.
Accreditation: Academic affiliation of the BVAR project is through Northern Arizona University. Through this accreditation, students wishing to obtain academic credit for their participation with the BVAR project may do so by prior arrangement between the department and registrar of their home institution.
Facilities: The cost of the field school covers weekly room and board. Accommodation includes shared bedrooms and bathrooms. Daily meals consist primarily of local fare at Hode's Restaurant. Breakfast and dinner are held at the restaurant with lunch meals delivered out to site.
Travel: Travel to and from the archaeological sites are provided on a daily basis. No work is conducted on weekends and thus no transportation is provided on Saturdays and Sundays (except airport transportation on scheduled days). At the start of each session attendees will also be greeted at the International airport in Belize City (BZE) and shuttled to our headquarters in San Ignacio, the capital of the Cayo District (see map here). Those wishing to make alternate travel plans to San Ignacio may do so, providing they arrive in time for the start of the session.
Travel to and from Belize forms part of the incidental expenses of the participant. In addition, we may help to organize optional weekend tours with local travel agents and tour guides. Additional travel to the coast of Belize or to neighboring Mexico or Guatemala may also be arranged by individuals before or after their session dates.
Lectures: Several lectures are given as part of the field school curriculum and students will be assessed by the content of their field notebooks as well as written exams. Informal on-site lectures will include an introduction to site reconnaissance, survey, excavation unit set-up, and the mapping of archaeological features in section and in plan. Formal lectures given in evenings during the work week will cover topics associated with Maya prehistory. Specific thematic lectures will focus on current BVAR research including examinations of architecture, ceramic remains, osteology, and hieroglyphic writing. Lab sessions will cover basic finds processing and inventory as well as preliminary artifact analyses. Based on interest we can accommodate lectures on artifact illustration. Students are advised that they will be expected to keep up with required reading and will have to bring the course notebook to the field with them to read at the end of workday.
In addition, the annual Belize Archaeology Symposium will be held the week between the first and second sessions. This is an ideal way to gain a good perspective on the archaeology that has taken place during the course of the previous year. These presentations allow you to be among the first to find out about the newest interpretations and discoveries made. Participation costs to attend the conference are incidental and details will be posted once these become available.