Maya Archaeology — Rio Bravo Archaeological Survey and Field School, Belize

This listing expired on June 20, 2023. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Blue Creek, Orange Walk District, Belize

Season: June 16, 2023 to July 13, 2023

Session Dates: Full Session - June 16-July 13, 2023; First Two-Week Session: June 16-June 30, 2023; Second Two-Week Session June 30-July 13, 2023.

Application Deadline: June 20, 2023

Deadline Type: Rolling


Discount for AIA members: $100 discount for AIA members

Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer

RPA Certified:

Programme for Belize Archaeology Project, Orange Walk District, Belize

Project Director:
Stanley L. Walling, Ph.D., R.P.A.

Project Description:

The Rio Bravo Archaeology Field School provides college-level instruction in archaeological field methodology within a state-of-the-art research project at ancient Maya commoner sites in a previously unexplored tropical forest in northwestern Belize.

In 2023, under the guidance of an experienced archaeological staff, teams of veterans, students, and volunteers will rotate between excavation, digital survey mapping, and laboratory activities as they investigate the densely distributed, forest-covered remains of household structures, residential terraces, relic water-control systems — and one of the only known Late Classic-period (A.D. 600-850) commoner ballcourts.  A primary theme of the RBAS is the documentation of archaeological evidence of the complexity of the lives of every-day Maya, who likely made up 95% or more of this culture’s population.

Come help us explore the sophistication of the largely unappreciated small-community-level of ancient Maya culture as it existed in the last decades before the collapse of Maya civilization. An optional 6 undergraduate academic credits are offered through the University of Texas at Austin. Non-credit volunteers are welcome.  (See below for more information about academic credit).  (Note that there is a $100 discount for those who apply to the field school by April 1, 2023.)

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Period(s) of Occupation: Maya Late-Terminal Classic Period (A.D. 700 - 850)

The RBAS is based at a tropical research station in a protected rainforest in Northwestern Belize, Central America where the last human residents were the ancient Maya who occupied the area until 1200 years ago. The RBAS field school includes an education in traditional excavation, electronic survey, and laboratory techniques, plus (as circumstances permit) a focus on geoarchaeological techniques, such as ground-penetrating radar. During the 2023 season (June 16- July 13 - dates approximate) particular attention will be paid to what appear to be several commoner ballcourts scattered over the Late-Terminal Classic landscape of this hinterland area. Additionally, the 2023 season will include reconnaissance and survey in several previously unexplored areas of the forest.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 2 weeks (4 recommended)

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: None

Room and Board Arrangements:
Accommodations consist of dormitory space and covered tent stations (tents provided) in the Richard E.W. Adams Research Facility of the Programme for Belize Regional Archaeology Project. Camp will be shared by researchers and students from several universities. Full-time cooks prepare three meals per day and laundry is done by hired laundresses off-site once a week. Cost: $2290 for the four-week program ($2190 if you are an AIA member). This figure covers food, housing, transportation to/from the airport (3 hrs. each way), field equipment, and daily transportation within the research area for the length of your stay. Additional costs include airfare, misc. personal expenses, inoculations, and travel medical insurance. Minimum of two weeks stay required ($1330 field school fee for two-weeks).

Academic Credit:
For those who are interested in academic credit, 6 undergraduate credits are offered by University of Texas at Austin at the In-State summer rate for the four-week field school. There is no 3-credit option. Taking the field school for academic credit is not required. Many Project participants are volunteers. Arrangements for credit should be made through Dr. Walling and must be in place by March 20, 2023. Contact Dr. Walling for more information (

Contact Information:

Dr. Stanley Walling

Director, Rio Bravo Archaeological Survey




United States

Phone: 973-349-4647


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