Learning Archeology In Situ At Chan Chich Lodge

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We recently posted a brief description of this program in the events section on the Chan Chich Lodge website, and here we provide a longer description written by the program organizers. The photos are from recent years of the program. I am looking forward to welcoming Professor Houk and his team of archeology students to Chan Chich Lodge few weeks from now, and especially looking forward to the opportunity guests of the lodge will have to join the evening lecture series, discussing the history of the location and particular discoveries from the site:

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Guests of Chan Chich Lodge are the most recent inhabitants of the ancient Maya city of Chan Chich. Abandoned around AD 900, the once proud buildings, plazas, courtyards, reservoirs, gardens, and fields were gradually reclaimed by the jungle for over 1,100 years…

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Chan Chich is one of over a dozen sizable Maya cities scattered across the landscape of northwestern Belize and northeastern Guatemala.

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We know from excavation data that Chan Chich was settled as early as 900 BC and occupied continuously until its abandonment at the end of the Classic period around AD 850. We do not know the names of the rulers who commissioned the larger buildings at the site, but we have excavated one of their tombs. The site probably began as a simple agricultural village, but around AD 200 someone calling himself a king was buried in the Upper Plaza, signaling Chan Chich’s rise as a ceremonial center.

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The site reached its maximum size between AD 600 to 800, and most of the larger buildings were built during this period, which is known as the Late Classic. What we know about the ruins of Chan Chich is based on multiple seasons of archaeological research at the site. The first project to study Chan Chich was the Rio Bravo Archaeological Project, directed by Dr. Thomas Guderjan. Guderjan’s crews mapped the site and investigated looter’s trenches while the lodge was being constructed. In 1995, a small team from the Programme for Belize Archaeological Project, led by Dr. Fred Valdez, Jr., spent three days refining the map of the site’s center.

2013 Structure A-15 Photo CCAPIn 1996, Brett A. Houk began the Chan Chich Archaeological Project (CCAP). During that first season, three archaeologists mapped 1.5 square kilometers around the lodge, discovering over 100 previously unknown structures in the surrounding forest. During the summers of 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2001, staff and students conducted excavations at several locations across the site including the Main Plaza, the Upper Plaza, the ball court, Norman’s Temple, the Western Plaza, and Group H.

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In 2012, after an 11-year hiatus, the CCAP began investigating the site again as an archaeological field school run through Texas Tech University. The project operates during the summer, and offers guests a unique opportunity to observe archaeology in action!

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