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Northeastern Illinois University's

ANTH-380: Archaeological Field School in Belize

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 Dates:  May 19th through June 16th, 2013

Total cost for the trip is $2,989, (including airfare)

The Department of Anthropology at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) is pleased to announce the 2013 NEIU Summer Archaeological Field School, directed by Dr. Jon Hageman.  The Field School will be held in the Programme for Belize (PFB) lands of Belize, Central America.  The PFB lands are located in the northwestern corner of Belize, south and west of the village of Blue Creek.

Students will receive training in archaeological field methods, emphasizing excavation procedures as well as collection and analysis of living floor samples.  Students will also learn artifact processing and analysis in the field lab while actively participating in research focusing on rural Maya living in the Late/Terminal Classic (AD 600-900) period.

The Field School explicitly links these methods with research strategies to address broader anthropological questions.  Lectures on methods and Maya prehistory are integrated with fieldwork to more fully connect activities in the field with the larger research enterprise.  Field trips to La Milpa, Dos Hombres, Lamanai, and Tikal will place the research in the ancient social context.

The Field School accepts students with a variety of interests, including but not limited to, anthropology, archaeology, bioanthropology, geography and environmental studies, earth science, Latino/Latin American Studies, and history.  Students from groups historically underrepresented in anthropology are strongly encouraged. Tuition scholarships are available from the College of Arts and Sciences;  application
deadline for this tuition scholarship is March 1.  Please give the faculty member writing your letter at least two weeks notice in advance of this deadline.   


Research Program

The NEIU Field School is part of a multi-year research program investigating rural Maya populations in the Late/Terminal Classic (AD 600-900) period.  Our primary focus is on the nature of rural autonomy from Classic-era kings and cities.  Investigations address the relationship between rural populations and urban centers along two research fronts. The first is the continuation of an intersite survey transect between the sites of Dos Hombres and La Milpa. These are two of nine large sites in northwestern Belize, and were occupied through the end of the Classic period. Rural areas were also occupied from the Late Preclassic (400 BC-AD 250) through the Late and Terminal Classic. The aim of this work is to record the location and type of settlement in areas between these two large sites to identify sites for future work, where excavations can suggest the degree to which the larger sites exerted direct political control over rural populations.

A second front also explores the nature of rural autonomy from Classic-era kings and cities. This front focuses on identifying ways in which rural populations differentiated themselves socially from urban centers while creating and reinforcing identities distinct from those of other rural groups.  Past excavations in rural settings indicate the absence of elaborate polychrome pottery that typically indicates the presence of patronage relationships between urban lords and rural populations.  Rural Maya, therefore, were organized into largely autonomous groups, but the ways in which these groups maintained power locally are poorly known.  In 2013, our work will focus on the ways in which the heads of these rural social groups used food as part of highly charged ritual to not only define and enhance the prestige of their group relative to others, but also to reinforce the power of the group head.  Remains of feasting should reflect the presence of this ritual, particularly when compared to food refuse from other households. 

Excavations in pursuit of this research will be conducted at Guijarral, a small rural site located some 8 km northeast of La Milpa.  These excavations will open rooms within buildings thought to have been the location of food preparation and/or storage.  Floor deposits will be targeted for recovery, and interior floors will be gridded and scraped to collect materials ground into the floor through foot traffic and other processes.  This material will complement previous seasons' work on recovering paleoethnobotanical data from midden contexts.

The project will offer a unique look into the social and political-economic history of a particular settlement and region of the ancient Maya world.  In so doing, the research will contribute significantly to our understanding of social and political organization as well as to our understanding of such processes in similar societies.


Director and Staff

The Field School is directed by Dr. Jon B. Hageman, Associate Professor of Anthropology at NEIU.  Dr. Hageman has worked on archaeological projects in Belize and Guatemala since 1989.  He will be assisted by two experienced graduate students. We anticipate a student-to-staff ratio of about 3:1, ensuring that students will receive a great deal of individual attention and training.

The NEIU Field School will share the field camp with Dr. Rissa Trachman of Elon University, Dr. David Hyde of Western State Colorado University, and Dr. Fred Valdez, Jr., of the University of Texas.  We will have the opportunity to visit their excavations at the sites of Dos Hombres, Medicinal Trail, and La Milpa


R.E.W. Adams Research Station: Our Field Camp

The R.E.W. Adams Research Station is a field camp located in the heart of the tropical rainforest. Facilities include a dormitory, kitchen, latrine, laboratory, and tent platforms.  Students can request to stay in tents with one roommate or in the dorm with as many as three roommates, and must provide their own bedding (see equipment list). Meals will be prepared by kitchen staff.  As part of camp life, students will be assigned duties on a weekly rotating basis.  Photos of camp can be found in the Photo Gallery.


Application and Enrollment

The Field School (Anth 380) is a six credit-hour course which lasts four weeks, from May 19 to June 16, 2013.   Enrollment is open to undergraduate students. Prerequisites include:

  • Anth 213 Introduction to Archaeology, or
  • Anth 250 Latin American Archaeology, or
  • Anth 374 The Maya, or
  • Consent of Instructor

Applicants should be in good physical condition.  Applications are available from the Office of International Programs, Room LWH-0045.  The trip cost is $2,989, which includes airfare, transportation in Belize and to Tikal, room and board, and field equipment.  Students are responsible for bringing personal items (so check the equipment list).

Since enrollment is limited to 12 students, early application is advised.

THE APPLICATION DEADLINE IS MARCH 15, 2013, AT 4:00 PM. WE WILL ACCEPT APPLICANTS UNTIL ALL SPACES ARE FILLED. To apply, please contact the NEIU Office of International Programs (773-442-4796) for an application.

A $1000 deposit is due with your application.  The second installment ($1000) is due to the Bursar's office by April 15, and the third installment ($989) is due to the Bursar by May 2.

Minority students and students from groups historically underrepresented in anthropology are strongly encouraged to apply.

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