Field Research in Maya Archaeology (ANTH 450-PWP)

*Undergraduate applicants only, graduate students are not eligible*

Heller_ANTH 450


Program Information

This Problems Without Passports is an opportunity to conduct archaeological fieldwork in one of the most exciting regions in the Americas, the ancient Maya world. Students will work directly with a team of interdisciplinary scholars, led by Dr. Eric Heller, to excavate the site of La Milpa North, in Northwestern Belize. This site is an ancient Maya palace compound located on a breathtaking hilltop that overlooks the remains of a once-thriving civilization. The home of a lineage of high-ranking military and political leaders from 750 – 950 CE, La Milpa North stood during a period marked by uncertainty, strife, and regional abandonment known as the “Maya Collapse.”

Field archaeology is a rigorous undertaking rife with physical and mental challenges. Learning about history and culture in a classroom setting is one thing, but trekking through the jungle, excavating ancient ruins, and utilizing the latest technologies to model archaeological sites in virtual reality is quite another!

This course is designed to teach students intensive and efficient field research methods and archaeological theory through an experiential framework. While on site, students will learn landscape survey, excavation techniques, laboratory analysis, as well as 3D scanning and virtual reality visualization of cultural heritage landscapes and artifacts. In addition, students will visit local archaeological sites and enjoy lectures on the rich culture and history of the Maya region. Beyond the archaeological, students will interact with an interdisciplinary team of scholars and conservationists while learning about the unique rainforest environment in which they are immersed. Finally, there are ample opportunities to engage in cross-cultural learning experiences through interaction with local Belizean research assistants and staff as well as members of the nearby Mennonite community.

Contact Information

Faculty Director: Eric Heller