Center for Archaeological and Tropical Studies | College of Liberal Arts
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Belize Archaeological Project

The Programme for Belize Archaeological Project (PfBAP) is directed by Dr. Fred Valdez of the Department of Anthropology at The University of Texas at Austin. Since 1992, with the permission of the Institute of Archaeology of the Government of Belize, the PfBAP has conducted original research concerning the ancient Maya civilization. The project area of the PfBAP is in the Orange Walk District of northwestern Belize, near the Mexican and Guatemalan borders, on land owned by the Programme for Belize, a Belize-controlled non-profit organization established in 1988.

PfBAP research focuses on the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area, a nature reserve that is over 260,000 acres in size. The PfBAP research area contains over 60 ancient Maya settlements. The research area is home to a great variety of neotropical wildlife, including many birds, cats, and monkeys.

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The research area is home to a great variety of neotropical wildlife, such as the howler monkey. Photo credit Bruce Templeton.

Researchers at PfBAP have authored many research reports, and several dissertations and theses have been produced. The field school program involves survey, excavation at several Maya sites, and laboratory experience working directly with excavated Maya artifacts. Field techniques, lectures on Maya culture history and instruction concerning artifact analysis are provided during each session. The PfBAP offers archaeological fieldwork opportunities for volunteers of any age and experience level as well as opportunities for students to earn college credit.

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Students, volunteers, and staff excavate a site at the PfBAP. Photo credit Bruce Templeton.

As a student or volunteer, you will have the chance to obtain hands-on experience in general aspects of field archaeology, including excavation, survey, mapping, artifact processing, and artifact analysis. Field techniques training will be supplemented by lectures. Subjects vary, but generally cover excavation objectives, lithic analysis, ceramic analysis, osteological analysis, and Maya prehistory. All project participants will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of archaeological fieldwork aspects.