From: D. Clark Wernecke [SMTP:102402.2332@...
Sent: Monday, October 11, 1999 12:03 AM
Subject: Fieldwork opportunity
Location: Cayo District, north of San Ignacio, on the western border
Site: El Pilar Archaeological Reserve for Maya Flora and Fauna
Period: 450 BC-AD 1000
Dates: March 20-June 30
Application deadline: February 30
Minimum age: 18
Experience required: The program takes volunteers and students. Volunteers
and students should be at least 18 years old and in good physical shape.
Experience is preferred, but not required. BRASS is particularly interested
in graduate students looking for advanced projects in a number of areas:
archaeology, ecology, plant and wildlife biology, history, agriculture, and
community development. Participation can be arranged for as little as two
weeks or as long as the entire field season, with participants interested in
the field season taking precedent.
Skills preferred: Program needs people interested in ceramics, drafting,
computers, and photography as well as those with archaeological field
Cost: $2500 for lodging (in modern accommodations with bathroom and
showers), meals (Monday-Saturday), and local commute. Travel to Belize and
Sunday meals not included. Cost is a tax deductible donation to the
University of California (inquire for details).
Bibliography: Fedick, Scott, and Anabel Ford, "The Prehistoric Agricultural
Landscape of the Central Maya Lowlands," World Archaeology 22, pp. 18-33,
1990. Ford, Anabel, and Scott Fedick, "Prehistoric Maya Settlement Patterns
in the Upper Belize River Area," Journal of Field Archaeology 19, pp.
35-49, 1992. The BRASS/El Pilar Website WWW:
Director: Dr. Anabel Ford
Contact: ISBER/MesoAmerican Research Center
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
FAX: (805) 893-2790
D. Clark Wernecke
Field Director - BRASS/El Pilar Program
1002 Huntridge Drive
Austin, TX 78758
The Belize River Archaeological Settlement Survey (BRASS) was
initiated in 1983 by Dr. Anabel Ford in the upper Belize River area
Ignacio, Belize. Pioneering work in settlement survey has shown that this
region was occupied very early and continuously. Dr. Ford had previously
finished a large-scale settlement survey in Guatemala between the sites of
Tikal and Yaxha and was eager to recover more data regarding the
development of Maya settlement. The BRASS project was designed to closely
examine the relations between house sites and the natural environment and
their spatial patterning. In 1983-92 the project surveyed three large
transects, one 10-km and two 5-km long. The 10-km transect ended at the
ancient Maya city of El Pilar which straddles the border between Belize and
El Pilar was recorded by Belize's Department of Archaeology in the 1970s,
but its full extent was then unknown. A preliminary map of the site was made
by BRASS in 1984 and the first full-scale investigation of El Pilar was
finally begun in 1993. In May 1997 a statutory instrument was signed
designating the nine-square-kilometer reserve as Belize's newest national
park. In December 1997 the Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas (CONAP) of
Guatemala declared a 1000 hectare reserve around the Guatemalan portion of
A preliminary chronology based on ceramic comparisons has revealed that
monumental constructions at El Pilar began in the Middle Preclassic (500 BC)
and continued with the last major remodeling completed in the Terminal
Classic (1000 AD). This long sequence spans more than 15 centuries and
testifies to a continuous and methodical development in the area.
El Pilar has more than 25 identified plazas in an area of approximately 100
acres (38 hectares), ranking it equal with major centers of the lowland Maya
region. It is the largest center in the Belize River area, more than three
times the size of other well-known centers such as Baking Pot or
Xunantunich. There are more than a dozen large pyramids and many range
buildings. The site is divided into three primary sectors: Xaman (North)
Pilar, Nohol (South) Pilar, and Pilar Poniente (West). The eastern and
western sections are connected by an offset causeway system extending
between two large public plazas. Survey and excavations have been
concentrated in the eastern side of El Pilar within Belize. The western
section, Pilar Poniente, is across the border in the Republic of Guatemala.
The BRASS/El Pilar Program is an international, multidisciplinary program
which includes archaeology, ecology, ecotourism, tourism development,
education, cultural anthropology, history and more.
Funding permitting, the 2000 field season will focus on completion of a
tunnel excavation, survey of the Belizean Reserve and education and
community development projects.
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