This listing expired on July 1, 2013. Please contact for any updated information.
Aguacate Community Archaeological Project

Location: Aguacate Village, Toledo , Belize

March 8, 2013 to June 12, 2013

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Program Type


RPA certified



Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Project Director:

Dr. Patricia A. McAnany, UNC Chapel Hill; and Ms. Claire Novotny, UNC Chapel Hill

Project Description

Situated in rural southern Belize, this archaeology project provides a unique opportunity to experience community archaeology firsthand. The research evaluates social, political, and economic strategies of identity among rural Maya households in the Toledo district of southern Belize during the Late Classic period (A.D. 570-850). Conducted in collaboration with Aguacate, a Q‘eqchi’ Maya village, and Tumul K’in Center of Learning, a Maya-run high school, excavation of ancient households will enhance understanding of how rural farmers negotiated regimes of power concentrated at local political centers. Volunteers will get hands-on field experience in excavation methodology as well as a unique opportunity to work with local Maya communities and students on issues of cultural heritage.

During the 2012 season, 12 archaeological sites were mapped on Aguacate community land. The most complex site, Red Water, was chosen for excavation based on the heterogeouse nature of its architecture. Surface collections suggested that several of the seven structures were residences, but large open patios suggested a public or administrative function. Preliminary excavations indicated that one structure was indeed a residence, while another structure was most likely used for administrative purposes. In 2013 we will return to Red Water to continue exploring its enigmatic patios and additional structures. We will also excavate at two sites nearby to collect comparative chronological data.

In addition to archaeological methodology, this project works within a community-based participatory research frame; researchers work with and for the Maya community. In addition to excavations, this season we will be focusing our efforts on working with the Aguacate community to conserve the cultural and natural heritage of the Red Water site. Working closely with the Aguacate Conservation Committee, the project will help compose interpretive materials for the community that will be included in educational efforts and on site signs. Volunteers will also help coordinate site visits by high school students from Tumul K'in Center of Learning.

Period(s) of Occupation: Late Classic period (A.D. 600-900), Maya

Excavate ancestral Maya households in an under-investigated region of Beliz; work with contemporary Maya communities to expand knowledge of ancient Maya history.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 3 weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
Participants must have completed a field school or have commensurate experience.

Room and Board Arrangements

Accomodations will be provided by Tumul K'in Center of Learning, which is a residential high school. The project stays at one of the houses maintained for staff and visitors. Bedrooms include a wood-frame bed with thin mattress pads and pillows, as well as a dresser. Participants are responsible for linens and mosquito nets. All participants will be required to help with household chores, including cleaning and meal preparation.

Academic Credit

Number of credits offered: none


Contact Information
Claire Novotny
Dept. of Anthropology 301 Alumni Bldg.
Chapel Hill

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