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Lamanai Archaeological Project (LAP), Belize – Staff & Researcher Profiles

 PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS:

 
Dr.
Elizabeth Graham

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.

Research at Lamanai has been sponsored by a wide range of organizations and people over the years: the British Academy, UCL Institute of Archaeology and Graduate School, Andante Travel, the National Geographic Society (NGS), the Foundation for Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (FAMSI), the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Royal Ontario Museum, and York University, Ontario. Initial grants secured by Graham from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), and from the British High Commission's Small Grants Fund included community development initiatives that are now organized by Karen Pierce. Ongoing efforts to improve collections access are part of the Friends of Lamanai initiative. The direction of research and development at Lamanai is coordinated with the aims of Belize's Institute of Archaeology, part of the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH). Through this partnership, tourism development support has been gratefully received from the International Development Bank, US Aid to International Development (AID), and the U.S. State Department's Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation through the Lamanai Historic Monuments Conservation Project, directed by Jaime Awe and John Morris.

  

Dr. David Pendergast

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 lagoon.  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.

 

Dr. Scott E. Simmons

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 American Archaeology.

  

STAFF & RESEARCHERS  

 

Dr. Jim Aimers

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:  http://www.homepages.ucl.ac.uk/~tcrnjja/, http://www.homepages.ucl.ac.uk/~tcrnjja/postclassic.html and http://www.homepages.ucl.ac.uk/~tcrnjja/IMP.html

   

Louise Belanger

Since 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 tourists.  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

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)

 

Laura J. Howard

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 (SAA), which promotes archaeology for the public.

  

Dr. Linda Howie

Linda Howie received a Masters' of Science degree in Archaeomaterials from University of Sheffield, 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 pottery traditions.

  

Stan LotenDr. Stan Loten

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 University, Ottawa.  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

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.

 

Dr. Richard Meadows

Richard 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:  "I recast 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 Research Laboratory.

 

 

Karen Pierce

Currently Karen is an MA candidate at University of Colorado/Denver (it’s never too late!). While pursuing an MFA at Arizona State University, she was inspired by studies of Precolumbian Mesoamerica and South America in art history courses. Previous careers in the fields of architecture and art led her to attend a Maya architecture field school at Lamanai in 1998 and she has been involved in Belize archaeology and community development projects ever since. With the help of other archaeologists and artists, I directed the Indian Church Artisans training program enabling local villagers to learn craft and business skills and to market their craft locally. Past archaeology projects include the Maya Archaeometallurgy Project at Lamanai, the Lamanai Archaeology Project, the Marco Gonzalez Archaeology Project, CBAS (Tipan Chen Uitz), Ka'Kabish, and the Belize Tourism Development Project which included making reproductions of stelae and altars at Lamanai and Caracol. Karen's current research interests are focused on Maya architecture and the built environment, particularly the building programs and architectural modifications carried out at elite residences and city-centers during the Classic-to-Postclassic transition and understanding the socio-political transformations that these changes reflect.

 

Dr. Terry Powis

Before working at Lamanai in 1998, Terry Powis excavated for 10 years in the Belize Valley at a number of sites (Cahal Pech, Baking Pot, Pacbitun, and Blackman Eddy).  He received his M.A. from Trent University in 1996, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.  His research interests include early Maya pottery, the rise of social inequality, architecture and settlement of the Preclassic Maya, and diet and subsistence.  His dissertation focuses on theoretical and methodological positions of the studies of Lamanai ceramic types, contexts and functions.  He is also interested in the patterns of ceramic production and consumption associated with the emergence of social inequality in northern Belize during the Late Preclassic period (400 BC - 250 AD).  His thesis is titled A Conjunctive Approach to the Analysis of Preclassic Ceramics at Lamanai, Belize.  Currently Terry Powis is Assistant Professor at Kennesaw State University.  To learn more about some of Powis's research see the following link http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20020720/fob8.asp.

 

Norbert Stanchly

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 Services Inc.

 

Dr. Christine White

Christine 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.


 
Darcy Wiewall
 


Darcy Wiewall
has worked at the site of Lamanai since 2000. Her dissertation research project is entitled, The Impact of the Spanish Colonial Regime on Maya Household Production at Lamanai, Belize during the Late Postclassic to the Colonial Period Transition. A Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation and a Dissertation Fellowship from the American Association of University Women has supported her project. It is interdisciplinary and focuses on defining and differentiating the effect of political change on commoner household production systems and gender relations during times of political change. Specifically, she is concerned with how women and men in households integrate political change within their productive capabilities and how households respond in light of their access to resources and social organization. The central premise is that “commoners” actively participate in social negotiations of power and domination. In this dynamic, households are active participants in the adaptation, accommodation, and resistance processes of culture change. Her study integrates ethnohistoric documents and multiple lines of archaeological data to develop a socio-economic model of household organization, production and consumption strategies, in relation to regional power dynamics. As such, the analysis goes beyond “add women and mix” to delve into the gendering of production and reproduction.

 


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