The Department of Anthropology at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) is pleased to announce the 2015 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 northwestern 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 (A.D. 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, and we are working under a permit issued by the Belize Institute of Archaeology to Dr. Fred Valdez, Director of the Programme for Belize Archaeological Project.

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. 

2015 Field School Dates and Costs

Tuition scholarships are available from the College of Arts and Sciences; application deadline for this tuition scholarship is February 1. Please give the faculty member writing your letter of recommendation at least three weeks notice in advance of this deadline.  

  • Trip duration: May 20 through June 17, 2015 (tentative)
  • Total trip cost: $3,695 (including airfare)
  • Tuition and fees for Illinois residents: $2169.60 ($3,993.60 for non-residents)

Application and Enrollment

The Field School (ANTH - 380 Archaeological Field School) is a six credit-hour course which lasts four weeks. 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 and payment schedule are available from the Instructor and from Office of International Programs, Room LWH-0045. 

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

The application deadline is on January 24, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. We will accept applicants until all spaces are filled. 

To Apply

Please contact the Office of International Programs (773-442-4796) or email Jon Hageman, at for an application.

The trip cost is $3,695, 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).

A $1,000 deposit is due with your application. The second installment ($1,347.50) is due to Student Payment Services by February 13, 2015 and the third installment ($1,347.50) is due to Student Payment Services by March 13, 2015.

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

Field School Research Program

The NEIU Field School is part of a multi-year research program investigating rural Maya populations in the Late/Terminal Classic (A.D. 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 B.C. - A.D. 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 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 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 2015, 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.

Field School Director and Staff

The Field School is directed by Dr. Jon B. Hageman, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Northeastern. 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 Field School will share the field camp with Dr. Fred Valdez, Jr. of the University of Texas. We will have the opportunity to visit excavations at the site of La Milpa. 

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

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.