Page updated 14 September 14
The Ka'Kabish Archaeological Research Project (KARP), directed by Dr. Helen R. Haines, provides students with the opportunity to excavate an ancient Maya ruin in the rain forest while living in a small Belizean village. Work at the site focuses on, among other things, excavations into the plazas to expose Formative period (ca. 600-800 BC deposits). The project is based in the local village of Indian Church, adjacent to the ruins of Lamanai, and is available for ANTH-3000Y credit. Additional information, photos, and copies of reports are available on the KARP site.
The Belize Field School will be not be offered in 2024.
It will resume May 2025
Ka'Kabish is a medium-size centre in north-central Belize located approximately 10 km from the larger, and more famous, site of Lamanai. The core area of Ka'Kabish was separated roughly in half by the construction of a modern road that connects the village Indian Church to San Filipe.
In contrast to the extensive research conducted at Lamanai (cf. Graham 2004), little was known about Ka'Kabish prior to the start of the Ka'Kabish Archaeological research project in 2007.
Contrary to initial expectations that envisioned Ka'Kabish as a secondary political centre, part of a multi-scalar administrative polity ruled by Lamanai, recent research has shown that Ka'Kabish was a dynamic and autonomous city for most of its history.
To date the project has mapped over 90 structures in eight groups. Excavations into the largest of these groups (Group D) has revealed that Ka'Kabish enjoyed a long history of occupation. Starting in the Middle Formative period (ca. 800-600 BC) the site lasted through to the end of the Late Classic period (ca. AD 600-900). Ongoing investigations into the surrounding settlement zone show that, while the core of the city may have declined, rural populations continued to thrive until the contact period (ca. 1500 AD).
The combination of monumental architecture and residences, both elite and commoner, show a thriving, multi-tiered community. Preliminary date gathered from the structures and plazas inside the site core show that the city functioned as the focus for local political and ritual activity for over 1,800 years. Information from the settlement zone suggests that the residential occupation lasted well past the "collapse"; thereby extending the history for the community over approximately 2,300 years.
The Field School
The project provides students with the opportunity to see a site before large-scale excavations and restoration have taken place. In 2012, a buried Middle Formative platform (ca. 800-600 BC) was discovered. As only a small portion of this building was discovered, work in 2017 concentrated on excavating two of the main buildings (D-10 a range building and D-14 the suspected royal palace).
Students will get experience in laying out units, stratigraphic excavation, and mapping. Students will also spend 1-2 days in the lab learning to process the artifacts found. Excavation and laboratory work is scheduled for Monday to Friday. Saturday and Sunday mornings are free time (see Optional Trips & Free Time for more information). There will be weekly Sunday afternoon lectures on Maya history and archaeology and a final test the Friday night before departure.
Students may obtain a ANTH-3000Y field school credit through Trent University. Those wishing to do so must arrange this at the time of application. Participation is limited to 16 students.