Location: Banana Bank, Belize
The Archaeological Survey & Mapping in Belize (ANTH 674) course is a 4-credit, intensive course offered during the January Term (Jan. 2-19, 2014) and involves hands-on training in field reconnaissance, survey and mapping of ancient Maya archaeological sites, and the use of ArcGIS software in the production of site maps. Students also gain some experience in field excavations of archaeological sites and processing of artifacts in our lab in Belize. The field course is designed to introduce students to the methods used to collect and analyze archaeological data in a hands-on field setting and exposes students to all aspects of archaeological field work, especially survey and mapping techniques. The field program is part of the Belize River East Archaeology (BREA) project, directed by Dr. Eleanor Harrison-Buck, and focuses on the recording of ancient Maya archaeological sites in the eastern Belize River valley. This program in Belize is offered through the University of New Hampshire (UNH) but is open to students at other universities. The field program will be of interest to a wide range of students, including those studying archaeology, geography, forestry and environmental studies, architecture and urban planning, and geology, among other fields.
To Apply: Whether you are a UNH student or affiliated with another university, you can participate in the 2014 Archaeological Survey & Mapping in Belize course. To participate, you must first complete the application form (https://cola.unh.edu/study-abroad/applying). There are no pre-requisites or additional requirements to join the program aside from the standard UNH eligibility requirements. However, it is important for all prospective participants to be fully aware of the conditions of the field school and expectations of the participants. The project requires all participants to live and cooperate in close quarters with others and involves hard physical labor in a hot, tropical environment, often hiking into remote parts of the jungle. Roads are not always going to be paved and in good condition and some riverside sites are only accessible via canoe. Excavating entails lifting up to 25 pounds, swinging a pick, and using a shovel, in addition to more detailed work using a trowel, dental pick, and paint brush. Survey entails hiking through the jungle while wearing snake guards and a backpack (carrying up to a gallon of water).
Additional Details about the Course: The course is limited to no more than 12 students. Because we keep the field school small, the program offers an incredible staff-to-student ratio, with intensive, one-on-one instruction in archaeological field and laboratory methods from staff who all have years of field experience and can share their various areas of expertise in Maya archaeology. In addition to the Director, the BREA project includes a large group of staff, including a professional surveyor and other graduate and post-graduate PhDs trained in Maya archaeology, survey, mapping, and ArcGIS software.
In addition to the daily field activities, the course consists of nightly lectures on a variety of topics related to survey and mapping and ancient Maya settlement archaeology. Evening labs will include hands-on practicums, such as artifact analyses with one-on-one training from program staff. During evening labs, students also will receive training in post-processing data and creating maps in ArcGIS. The goals of the course are to: a) provide students with an overview of ancient Maya settlement archaeology and b) offer students a thorough understanding and hands-on working knowledge of how archaeological sites are recorded through various survey and mapping techniques, as well as the final map production using ArcGIS software.
The program also includes an excursion to the town of San Ignacio and several site tours of nearby Maya ruins, including the large sites of Xunantunich and Cahal Pech. There is a free long weekend where optional trips can be arranged, allowing students to explore other parts of the country, such as the cayes.
Period(s) of Occupation: Maya Preclassic-Postclassic times
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 18 days
Room and Board Arrangements