Nestled within the heart of north-central Belize lies an ancient Maya city known as Ka'kabish. Here, Trent University Durham GTA Anthropology professor Dr. Helen Haines and her team have taken on a mission to meticulously map the diverse array of structures that grace the grounds of Ka'kabish. Their efforts have yielded astounding results, revealing the existence of over 100 buildings organized into twelve distinct groups. This discovery paints a vivid picture of Ka'kabish as a thriving metropolis that flourished for over two millennia - a testament to its significance in ancient Maya civilization.
“Ka'kabish is not just an archaeological site; it is an opportunity to learn about all aspects of ancient Maya civilization,” said Professor Haines. “The significance of this site lies in its ability to provide us with a glimpse into the complex social, political, and economic systems that shaped the lives of the Maya people. Through our research at Ka'kabish, we are rewriting history, by expanding our understanding of this remarkable civilization, particularly in this under-researched corner of the ancient Maya world.”
Beyond the realm of architectural exploration, Prof. Haines leads a group of students and to Ka’kabish each year to delve into documenting the intricate world of objects and artifacts that bear the legacy of the Maya people. By analyzing these items, her team can learn more about the Maya culture and how they lived. This invaluable research serves as a key to unraveling the enigmatic tapestry of the ancient Maya civilization and understanding their remarkable contributions to history.
Out of the classroom and straight into history
In addition to her research work, Prof. Haines is also an educator who aims to inspire the next generation of academics to love archaeology and history. She believes in the transformative potential of experiential learning and provides Anthropology students from Trent with the opportunity of a lifetime - to actively participate in the excavation process at the Ka'kabish site. Through hands-on experiences, students are empowered to excavate, unveil ancient artifacts, and engage with these remnants of the past.
The Ka'kabish Archaeological Research Project (KARP) is supported by invaluable partnerships with local communities and organizations. These dedicated collaborators contribute to the project's success by undertaking crucial tasks such as the restoration of ancient ruins, the training of knowledgeable park rangers, and the facilitation of enriching educational excursions. Together, they form an indispensable network of collective efforts, fostering a shared commitment to uncovering the secrets of the past.
"The Ka'kabish Archaeological Research Project aims to uncover the rich history of the ancient Maya city of Ka'kabish while providing important learning experiences for students interested in archaeology,” shared Prof. Haines. "KARP offers students the opportunity to do actual fieldwork as part of an active research project while working towards their degree. Their participation makes meaningful contributions directly to graduate theses and dissertations, as well as advancing our understanding of the ancient Maya. It also, I hope, fosters awareness of the value understanding ancient cultures can have in the modern world."