Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project
Dr. Julie A. Hoggarth
BVAR Project Director
Julie started working with BVAR in 2001 as a field school student and continued with the project as junior staff and as research staff on her PhD research at Baking Pot (completed in 2012 at the University of Pittsburgh). Throughout her time with the project she has also worked on excavations at Caracol and directed excavations in the settlement of Cahal Pech in Belize. She has also worked on multiple projects in Panama, as well as on investigations in California and Colorado.
Julie is an anthropological archaeologist with research interests on the effects of climate on the collapse and regeneration of complex societies. Her central research questions focus on understanding how shifts in climate affected sociopolitical organization, agricultural production, and demography in the Maya Lowlands. Julie's research applies an interdisciplinary approach that integrates history, demography, archaeology, paleoecology, and climate research to understand the impacts of abrupt climatic change from the Classic to Colonial Periods in the Maya Lowlands.
Julie recently completed a 2.5 yr postdoc working with the Human Paleoecology and Isotope Geochemistry Lab in the Anthropology Department at Penn State. During her postdoc she worked to compile archaeological and historic datasets from across the region to integrate with high-resolution climate proxy records. This information will allow us to understand the effects of specific drought episodes on agricultural production and demography for prehistoric and historic Maya populations. During her postdoc she also learned how to prepare charcoal samples, as well as to process and purify bone collagen, for AMS 14C measurement. These methods form the foundation for her new research program.
Her new NSF funded project, Examining the Disintegration of Maya Polities and Demographic Decline in the Central Maya Lowlands, (BCS-1460369, in collaboration with Jaime Awe, Douglas Kennett, and Brendan Culleton) focuses on developing a high-precision radiocarbon chronology for the Belize Valley, based at the sites of Baking Pot and Cahal Pech. Ultimately, this project aims to identify chronological correlations (or lack thereof) between episodes of severe drought from the ninth to eleventh centuries with precisely dated archaeological evidence for political and demographic collapse.
Julie is the Co-Director of BVAR and is an Assistant Professor in Anthropology at Baylor University. She is currently working to develop comparative methods for investigating archaeological examples where climate has impacted prehistoric societies. Identifying causal relationships is integral to this goal and her current work is strongly focused on chronology building. As such, she is developing the Radiocarbon and Archaeological Sample Preparation (RASP) laboratory in the Anthropology Department at Baylor. She is also focused on developing quantitative and comparative methods that will allow for the systematic study of climatic effects on populations across time, as well as how people respond and/or adapt to environmental change, and she is a member of the Terrestrial Paleoclimatology Research Group in the Geoscience Department at Baylor.
Her publications can be found here.