Archaeological Project (LAP), Belize
– Staff & Researcher Profiles
Elizabeth Graham has been the Director of the Lamanai Archaeological Project since 1998. She is Professor of Mesoamerican Archaeology at University College London (UCL), Institute of Archaeology. She participated in the investigations directed by her husband, David Pendergast, at Lamanai from 1983 to 1986, and served as the Archaeological Commissioner of Belize from 1977 to 1979. She has worked at various sites in Belize since 1973, including the Spanish colonial site of Tipu, not far from Chaa Creek in the Cayo District. The Spanish colonial investigations at both Tipu and Lamanai are described in her book, Maya Christians and Their Churches in Sixteenth-Century Belize (2011, University Press of Florida). Graham's excavations at Lamanai built on Pendergast's earlier work by focusing on periods of transition. The years bridging the Preclassic to Early Classic periods, the Terminal Classic to Postclassic, and the transition to the European presence have all received attention. The most recent emphasis is on the British colonial period, although all of Lamanai's investigators and supporters are now putting their energies behind improving access to the on-site collections. This means not just display, but exploring ways in which a wide range of people—artists, craftspeople, students, guides, ecotourists—will be able to view and even handle the excavated material.
David Pendergast was the former
director of the Lamanai Archaeological Project and has worked in Belize
since the late 1950’s, first at ritual cave sites then as director for
the Altun Ha Project. He directed excavations at Lamanai
from 1974 to 1986, during which time he was able to establish the
extremely long chronological history of the site. More
recently he also taught an upper level four-week field course
focusing on Maya Architecture for the Lamanai field school.
Pendergast has also worked on the Taino site, Los Buchillones in
Cuba, which included the recovery of intact wooden material from the
From 1964 to1996, he was Curator
of New World Archaeology at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM),
Toronto, and from 1996 to 1999 Vice President for Collections and
Research at the ROM. One of the leading Mesoamerican archaeologists
he has excavated at Altun Ha, Lamanai, Marco Gonzalez, and other sites
in Belize. Pendergast is
also an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of
Archaeology, University College of London.
Scott E. Simmons is co-director of the
Lamanai Archaeological Project along with Elizabeth Graham.
He is an Assistant Professor of Archaeology at the University of
North Carolina, Wilmington.
He has been directing research on Maya metallurgy at Lamanai
since 1998 and has been working in Belize since1986. He is interested in
understanding the relationships that existed in Late Postclassic and
Spanish Colonial times between copper production, social status and
economic power. He also
heads up Lamanai’s field school
and also serves as one of the board of directors for the Society for
Jim Aimers received his Ph. D. in 2002
from Tulane University, his dissertation title is: Cultural Change on
a Spatial and Temporal Frontier: Ceramics of the Terminal Classic to
Early Postclassic Transition in the Belize Valley.
He has been working in Belize since the late 80's and in addition
to Lamanai has worked at numerous sites including Cahal Pech, Baking
Pot, Negroman-Tipu, and Chechem Ha Cave.
Three informative web sites are:
1979 Louise Belanger has been the archaeological illustrator for the
Lamanai Archaeological Project, Belize.
In 2001-2 Louise and Claude Belanger undertook the restoration of
limestone masks on Maya temples at Lamanai as part of the Tourism
Development Project (TDP) sponsored by the government of Belize. She has
organized workshops in ceramics for residents at the nearby Indian
Church Village as part of a craft development
initiative; this ongoing
project is helping to enable local people to access the wealth of
archaeological imagery at the site and make craft items for sale to
Louise has a degree in Ceramics from Central St Martins, London
UK. She taught art for 10 years in London schools; part time work as an
archaeological illustrator turned into a full-time occupation in 1980
for David Pendergast, director of the Lamanai Archaeological Project,
which has, since 1997, been under the directorship of Elizabeth Graham
of University College, London. To
learn more and see her work: www.louisebelanger.com.
Claude Belanger served as site
architect and camp manager for the Lamanai Archaeological Project during
the initial 12 years of work with David Pendergast. Work at Lamanai by Belanger included assistance with the
production of the official site map that encompasses 4.5 sq km of over
715 structures that was worked on in the 1974 to 1976 field seasons.
Belanger also assisted with the survey, mapping, and teaching of
the 1998 and 1999 field school sessions.
He also served as director for the Lamanai Tourism Development
Project (LTDP) that was conducted from 2000 – 2003.
The work included new tourist facilities (visitor center, dock,
paths, and bathrooms) as well as consolidation and reconstruction of the
ancient Maya buildings and structures in Lamanai's central precinct.
Belanger assisted with the Altun Ha and Caracol consolidation
work as well. Work was
funded by Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and carried out under
the direction of Jaime Awe, of the Institute of Archaeology (NICH).
(Pictured here with C. Belanger is Meredith Martinez who
through the years has assisted the Lamanai Archaeological Project)
In 1997, a year after her first Belize
archaeological experience Laura Howard received her masters' degree in
anthropology from Florida State University. She has been with the Lamanai Archaeological Project since
then and assists with annual field schools,
served as the resident archaeologist for the Lamanai Outpost Lodge and
Research Center from 1997 – 2001, and has become active in community
development in Indian Church Village.
She works closely with the traveling public through her company
Beyond Touring and is a member of the Public Education Committee (PEC)
of the Society for American Archaeology
which promotes archaeology for the public.
Linda Howie received a Masters' of
Science degree in Archaeomaterials from University of
England, and recently she received her Ph.D. Her work included petrographic analysis of ceramics that investigated
continuity and change in ceramic production and consumption during the
Classic to Postclassic transition at the Maya center of Lamanai, Belize.
Variability in vessel style, raw materials and technology was used to
reconstruct the community-level patterns of ceramic production and
consumption and investigated the ways in which community-based
activities involving ceramics were affected by regional-level
developments, such as the disruption of networks of politico-economic
relations, population migrations and military pressures. The results of
the study reveals a period of cultural transition within the community,
marked by innovative ideas and their blending with well-established
Stan Loten served as head architect of
the Lamanai Archaeological Project from 1974 – 1986. Loten serves as a Distinquised Research Professor at the
School of Architecture at Carelton
Aside from Lamanai he has conducted fieldwork in the Maya area at
Altun Ha and Tikal. He also has research interests in Andean archaeology and
architecture at the pre-Inca site of Marcahuamachuco, Peru. Recent work
by S. Loten can be seen: http://www.csms.ca/Loten.htm.
Tracie Mayfield specializes in historical period archaeology and zooarchaeology. She received a B.A. (2006) in anthropology from DePaul University in Chicago, an M.A. (2009) in historical archaeology from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, and a Ph.D. (2015) in anthropology/archaeology from the University of Arizona in Tucson. She has worked at Lamanai since 2008. Tracie's studies focus on the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century at Lamanai when a British sugar plantation was constructed at the site.
Meadows completed his dissertation research in 2001 from the University
of Texas at Austin. His dissertation titled:
Crafting K'awil: A
Comparative Analysis of Ancient May Symbolic Lithics from Three Sites in
Northern Belize, included material from Lamanai.
In describing his own work Meadows says:
these items (ceremonial flints) as stone symbols that were the result of
a continuum of production, acquisition, and consumption.
These artifacts are the crystallization of the technological
knowledge required to produce the desired forms, the symbolic knowledge
that allowed for specific iconographic and cosmological themes prevalent
in other Maya artistic media to be rendered in stone, and the political
economic knowledge (i.e. context) in which production and acquisition
took place. The fact that
these are prestige items produced from locally available raw material is
important in understanding the political economic context in which the
crafters were interacting with the elite. Many of the artifacts also
exhibited pigments, residues, and even remnants of textiles. Researchers
at the SCMRE have completed initial analysis of some of these materials.
Further analysis of the textiles is being undertaken presently to
understand the composition of dyes visible on the material."
Meadows is a Research Fellow of the Mesoamerican Archaeological
Dr. Terry Powis
Norbert Stanchly received his B.A. in
Anthropology (Specializing in Archaeology) from the University of
Toronto and is currently a M.A. candidate in the Department of
Anthropology, Trent University, Canada.
He has undertaken archaeological research in Belize since 1990.
His research interests include ancient Maya subsistence, Maya
architecture, and tourism development in Belize. Stanchly specializes in the identification and analysis of
animal remains recovered from Maya sites and has been involved in the
analysis of animal assemblages from a number of sites in Belize and has
worked with a number of British, Canadian, and American archaeological
projects. Norbert has been
the zooarchaeologist for the Lamanai Archaeological Project since 1997
and is conducting an ongoing analysis of the animal remains from Lamanai.
He also participated in the Lamanai Tourism Development Project (LTDP)
in association with the Institute of Archaeology, Belize.
Currently Stanchly is a full time staff of Archaeological
White is currently at the University of Western Ontario
and is in charge of the Lamanai Archaeological Project's skeletal
material. She is a bioarchaeologist who utilizes stable isotopic (chemical) & forensic analysis of mummified as well as human skeletal remains to construct diet, life histories of disease, physical activity, environment & geographical relocations on both individual & complete populations. This way of tracing ancient people puts the flesh back on them and allows the reconstruction of social structure, living conditions, economic & political behavior, migration, warfare, marriage patterns, and colonization. White’s research addresses important archaeological issues mainly in Latin & North America, Western Europe, the Nile Valley and the North Atlantic. Her work also helps us to understand the role that socio-political upheavals, environmental change, and technological revolutions may have played in the history of human health, nutrition & population growth or decline.