Location: Chan Chich, Belize
Chan Chich, Belize: "It's Better Here"
In 2017, the Field School in Maya Archaeology will be held at Chan Chich, Belize in association with the Chan Chich Archaeological Project (CCAP). The CCAP represents a truly special opportunity for college students to participate in a significant research project, while receiving instruction in archaeological field and laboratory methods. This year, the field school will include one 28-night long "regular" session and one 14-night long "mini-session." Students may sign up for either or both sessions. Students will have the opportunity to learn how to excavate, how to draw profiles and plan maps, how to record archaeological data, and how to process and analyze artifacts in the lab. Each session is limited to only nine students.
About Chan Chich
Chan Chich is tucked away in the jungles of northwestern Belize and is home to Chan Chich Lodge, a beautiful jungle lodge built in the main plaza of the site. Belize is an English speaking country with a stable government. It is easily reached from Texas on flights going through Dallas and Houston.
The archaeological site of Chan Chich is a medium-sized Maya city in northwestern Belize, very near the border with Guatemala. The area was first settled as a small village during the Middle Preclassic period (1000 to 250 BC) and occupied until the Terminal Classic period, ca. AD 850). Most of the visible architecture dates to the Late Classic period (AD 600–850). In the late 1980s, Gallon Jug Ranch was established on 130,000 acres of jungle, including the site of Chan Chich. Chan Chich Lodge was built in the Main Plaza at the site shortly after that. While some may see that as a negative impact to the ruins, the construction of the lodge and the return of legitimate economic activity to the area put an end to the illegal looting that had been going on at Chan Chich and the nearby archaeological sites for several years.
2017 Research Plans
Preliminary plans for the 2017 season call for students to work at two three of Chan Chich.
Upper Plaza: In the Upper Plaza, which is the royal acropolis at the site, we will focus excavations on buried architecture in the northern part of the plaza and continue to refine the chronological sequence. The excavations will build off of exciting discoveries made during the 2016 season.
Norman’s Temple: At Norman’s Temple, we will also be building off discoveries we made in 2016. We will be exposing more of a collapsed room on an elite palace to look for ancient Maya graffiti. We will also be exposing more of a dense artifact deposit on the surface the courtyard that appears to be related to the abandonment of the group.
Household Archaeology: Our third excavation goal will be to investigate residential structures in the eastern part of the site core. We will target a small courtyard and nearby mounds to study domestic craft specialization and domestic architecture.
Archaeology is Hard Work!
Archaeology is fun and exciting, but it is also physically challenging work in difficult conditions. Survey involves hiking through the forest, wearing snake guards, and carrying a heavy backpack. Excavations involve lifting heavy objects, as well as using picks and shovels. Everything we do is in a tropical climate with high heat (often over 90 degrees) and high humidity (often over 70 percent). We sometimes have to work in the sun and other times in the rain. There are bugs, snakes, bats, scorpions, and poisonous plants.
Period(s) of Occupation: Late Preclassic period Maya, Late Classic period Maya, Terminal Classic period Maya
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 14 nights
Room and Board Arrangements
Students will be housed in the casitas and cabanas at Chan Chich Lodge, a remote jungle resort. More information about the lodge is available on their web site: www.chanchich.com. The lodge has a restaurant, a bar, a swimming pool, wireless internet in the restaurant and bar, 24-hour electricity, and cell phone coverage. There is no TV at the lodge.
The program includes three meals per day while at the lodge, and there is a full-service bar. Students will be able to use the swimming pool and walking trails. Other activities, including horseback riding, guided jungle tours, mountain bike riding, canoeing, etc. can be arranged through the lodge, but are not included in the cost of the program.