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An HSU Program - Belize Archaeology Field School
Rio Bravo, Belize (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Summer
Homepage: Click to visit
Budget Sheets Summer
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2016 03/15/2016 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
Fact Sheet:
Instruction language:
Program Type:
HSU Summer Faculty led
Minimum GPA:
Housing options:
GE classes offered:
Academic areas:
Open to non-HSU students: Yes Credit type: Resident Credit
Tuition payment made to: Extended Education
Students must be in good standing:
Program Description:

An HSU Program - Belize Archaeology Field School

                        Program Overview

Dates: May 22-June 19 2016

Field Conditions
Housing and Meals
Required Reading
Resources and Additional Information

The HSU Belize Archaeology Field School involves survey, excavation at several Maya sites, and laboratory experience working directly with excavated Maya artifacts. Field techniques, lectures on Maya culture history and instruction concerning artifact analysis are provided. The field school is directed by Dr. Marisol Cortes-Rincon.

The project area of the Programme for Belize Archaeology Project (PfBAP) is in northwestern Belize on land owned by the Programme for Belize, a Belizean controlled non-profit organization. The HSU field school works under a permit issued from the Institute of Archaeology to Dr. Fred Valdez, Director of the Programme for Belize Archaeology Project (PfBAP).  PfBAP research focuses on the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area, a nature reserve of more than 250,000 acres. The research area is home to a great variety of neotropical wildlife, including many birds and monkeys.

What you will learn

Field work requires physical labor, great sense of humor, and a good attitude. You will learn about Belizean cultures, Maya archaeology, and cultural sensitivity, and more. You will attend field school meetings, lectures, to spend many hours in the field taking part in field survey and/or excavations. You also will reflect upon and write about your experiences in a field journal and papers.HSU students in mosquito nets

The instructor and teaching assistant will teach you how to carry out survey, excavation, and laboratory techniques. You will be asked to put into practice everything you are learning.

This program has two major interrelated themes. The first theme will be an examination of Belizean cultures via an anthropological viewpoint. Cultural anthropology is one of the four main areas of study within the discipline of anthropology. You will study modern Belizean life ways, the sociocultural history of the country, verbal traditions, and the impact of tourism and development, among other things. You will also become well-versed in cultural sensitivity and intercultural communication.

The second theme — archaeology — includes
practical training in field techniques and classes relating to archaeology and settlement studies. Archaeology is the study of ancient cultures through the analysis of material cultural remains. This field school will serve as an introduction to the basic methods and techniques used in material cultural analysis, and provide you an excellent opportunity for hands-on learning. You will make observations of archaeological finds and learn associated field techniques.

When you finish this program, you should:
  • have a working knowledge of archaeological methods for field and laboratory research, including survey, excavation, stratigraphic interpretation, dating, classification, and typology.
  • have learned how archaeologists make inferences about human behavior and practice by recognizing patterns in the distribution, form, and context of material remains.
  • understand how archaeological records are created and transformed.
  • understand the major transformations in human prehistory, the sites that are important to their understanding, and the theories archaeologists have proposed to explain them.
  • have developed a sense of stewardship over the irreplaceable resources of the archaeological record.
  • understand and reflect upon many cultural practices and the history of the people of Belize.
  • appreciate the difficulties and joys of living and working in “foreign” cultures and the wisdom such experiences can produce.

Course Structure

The courses include field participation in all activities, lectures, discussions, and field trips to local sites. Many of the lectures in Belize will be held in situ rather than in a traditional classroom setting, and a few talks will be given by various PfBAP researchers. Participation is obviously vital for all courses, so please be there both in mind and body.

See detailed course descriptions for ANTH 306 and ANTH 357


ANTH 306   |   ANTH 357

ANTH 306: Cultures of Belize
This course is designed to assist you in adjusting to life in a culture other than your own. Some of you may have traveled abroad before, and may just be interested in learning a bit more about yourself and how to adapt to cultural differences. But for others, going to Belize will be their first time overseas. We will examine the issues of culture shock, stereotyping, misperceptions and misunderstandings, ethnocentrism and intercultural communication. We hope this class will help you to:
  • recognize and deal with culture shock
  • identify the aspects of your own culture that affect your values
  • see your own culture in a different light
  • explore the roots of ethnocentrism and the process of stereotype formation
  • incorporate new attitudes and behaviors into your interactions with people who view the world from a different perspective
  • increase your cultural sensitivity
  • improve your ability to communicate across cultures
  • better adapt to and enjoy your time in Belize

General Education
Anthropology 306 is a General Education (Area D - Upper Division) course and has been designed with GE goals in mind. This course should help you to further develop your ability to think and communicate clearly and effectively and to gain a better understanding of the human experience through the examination of culture and human interaction.

Course Requirements
Evaluation in this program will be through field participation, and three two-page papers. Any questions, confusion about the course grading, etc. should be clarified/settled with Prof. Cortes-Rincon as soon as possible.

Field Participation (40%)
You will be evaluated based on their individual progress and ability to work in teams. Team work is a big part of the evaluation process. The Teaching Assistant and Instructor will keep track of each student’s progress in the field, camp, and when visiting local sites and villages.

Short Paper(s) 60%
      First Paper Due May 27
      Second Paper Due June 11
      Final Paper Due June 24

You are required to write three two-page papers (hand-written papers are acceptable as long as you write legibly) reflecting on your field experiences. You may write the first paper on your flight to Belize City about what your preconceived expectations of the project and your opinion of the local culture(s). Your second paper may be about daily life in camp and discuss the many different cultures that are found just within our camp. Your third paper may be about whether or not the program met your expectations, your preconceived opinion of Belize, and camp life prior to your arrival and how these changed after your field school experience. The last paper may be written while you are on your flight(s) home, and the assignment should be submitted via Moodle.

This course fulfills upper division Area DCG and GE requirements.


Upon completion of this course, you should achieve a broad understanding of the following:
  1. To expose students to different Belizean cultures, beliefs, and every day practices while participating in an abroad program.
  2. The changing relationship between humans and their natural world through time
  3. Examples of current research being conducted at HSU and other academic institutions

General Education Outcomes: Diversity and Common Ground

Upon completion of this program you will be able to:
  • explain how the diversity of cultures creates an assortment of knowledge, experiences, values, world views, traditions, and achievements.
  • explain how cultural differences and identities are produced and perpetuated through a variety of social, cultural, and disciplinary discourses (i.e. popular culture, literature, science, among others).
  • explain and critically analyze how differential privilege and power occurs and how it creates problems such as inequalities, prejudicial exclusions, and injustices.
This course explicitly contributes to students’ acquisition of skills and knowledge relevant to HSU Learning Outcomes:
  • Effective communication through written and oral modes
  • Critical and creative thinking skills in acquiring a broad base of knowledge and applying it to complex issues
  • Take responsibility for identifying personal goals and practicing lifelong learning
Area D Measurable Learning Outcomes:
  • Human behavior over time and in the context of Belizean cultures and Central American region
  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of and ability to apply archaeological and ethnographic vocabulary. Written assignments will demonstrate application of concepts and principles to a specific instance.
  • The contributions and context of diverse human experiences in Belize dealing with gender, ethnicity, class, and religion.
  • Through written or presentational assignments, students will demonstrate the interrelationship of four of the core “organizing principles” of the social sciences.
  • Students will explore the principles, methodologies, value systems and ethics employed in social scientific inquiry.
As part of the Department of Anthropology’s outcome goals, students completing this course will be able to:
  • provide a global appreciation and understanding of human cultural and biological diversity, both past and present.
  • examine the impact of European colonial expansion on non-European cultures.
  • provide time depth to our understanding of human cultural development.
  • explore the relationships between past human cultures and the environment.
  • provide the practical foundations for assuming the roles and responsibilities of a productive member of a community.
Contact Hours
We spend eight hours in the field from Sunday to Friday which encompasses lectures, hands-on experience, and note taking totaling 48 contact hours. Additionally, we have 1 hour lectures in the evenings from Monday to Thursday which total four hours.

On Saturdays, we take our students to visit archaeological sites outside of PfBAP, we provide students with a historic occupation of the site along with the archaeological work and finds at each site. This activity is usually 4 hours on Saturdays. On a weekly basis, the total contact hours are 56. For the duration of the field school, the total contact hours are 224.

There will not be a grade curve. Final letter grades for the course(s) will be figured as follows:

A = 93-100%; A- = 90-92.9%
B+ = 87-89.9%; B = 83-86.9%; B- = 80-82.9%
C+ = 77-79.9%; C = 73-76.9%; C- = 70-72.9%
D+ = 67-69.9%; D = 60-66.9%; F = <59.9%

Please note: If the class is taken CR/NC, 70% or higher is required to pass the class.

ANTH 357 - Field Archaeology
Archaeology is a subfield of anthropology that focuses on the study of people of the past through their materials remains. Archaeology offers a unique perspective on human history and culture that has contributed greatly to our understanding of both the ancient and the recent past.

Archaeology helps us to understand not only where and when people lived on the earth, but also why and how they have lived, examining the changes and causes of changes that have occurred in human cultures over time, seeking patterns and explanations of patterns to explain everything from how and when people first came to inhabit the Americas, to the origins of agriculture and the rise of complex societies.

The principal focus of this course will be instruction in the basic field techniques required both in cultural resource management and in more strict research settings. You will learn how to map with different techniques (i.e. tape and compass, Theodolite, Total Data Station, and GPS). You will also learn how to use a hand held professional GPS unit (Magellan Mobile Mapper 6). We will use the GPS units for most of the mapping in the survey transect. You will learn how to map various features in the field with the GPS unit, and how to download the data to a laptop. You will also learn the basics of computer cartography using the data files collected with the GPS unit.

You will also learn how to lay out a grid and excavate small test pits that will help in evaluating the research potential of an archaeological site. Following this, you will learn the basics of larger scale excavation. Emphasis will be placed on sampling procedures, excavation techniques, collection of special samples, field laboratory procedures, documentation, and field assessment of findings as these relate to research objectives. Laboratory instruction includes the analysis of artifacts, features, architecture, and other remains recovered in the field.

Field techniques training will be supplemented by lectures. Subjects vary but generally cover excavation objectives, lithic analysis, ceramic analysis, osteological analysis and Maya prehistory.

Evaluation in this program will be through a field journal and field participation. Any questions, confusion about the course grading, etc. should be clarified/settled with Prof. Cortes-Rincon as soon as possible.

Class Exercises (20%)
The assignments include exercises designed to illustrate archaeological concepts described in the field lectures and/or in your texts, as well as readings that are intended to stimulate critical thinking concerning important issues in the practice of archaeology and the study of human prehistory.

Reading journal (40%)
You will be required to have a field journal detailing field activities from the moment you arrive in the field up to your last field day. This journal should not be a personal diary.

The journal should have the following: (1) a short description of the field events of each day, noting significant finds and field techniques; (2) address the field research questions and how you and the rest of the team are fulfilling these goals.

Each entry should be at least one to two pages long. Please note that you should keep careful notes while in Belize. It is recommended that you do each entry in the evenings. Field notebooks will be graded on organization, details, and context.

Field journals will be collected every Friday afternoon and returned on Saturday night.

Field Participation (40%)
Students will be evaluated based on their efforts to learn archaeology and survey methodology in the field. Team work is a big aspect of the evaluation process. The Teaching Assistant and Instructor will keep track of each student’s progress both in the field and in camp.


Upon completion of this course, students should achieve a broad understanding of:
  1. the archaeology of a specific region including the historical development of archaeological work in the area, the culture history of the region, and the character of current research related to interpreting and understanding human behavior in the region during the Classic period (A.D. 250 - 900)
  2. everyday practices of archaeological practices and interpretation
  3. the methods and theories archaeologists use to reconstruct the past
  4. the changing relationship between humans and their natural world through time
  5. examples of current archaeological research being conducted at HSU and other academic institutions
This course explicitly contributes to students’ acquisition of skills and knowledge relevant to HSU Learning Outcomes:
  • Effective communication through written and oral modes
  • Critical and creative thinking skills in acquiring a broad base of knowledge and applying it to complex issues
  • Take responsibility for identifying personal goals and practicing lifelong learning
As part of the Department of Anthropology’s outcome goals, students completing this course will be able to:
  • provide a global appreciation and understanding of human cultural and biological diversity, both past and present.
  • provide time depth to our understanding of human cultural development.
  • explore the relationships between past human cultures and the environment.
  • provide the practical foundations for assuming the roles and responsibilities of a productive member of a community.

Field Conditions

Field Activities
The field activities take place in a tropical forest environment with poisonous/venomous insects, spiders, snakes, and other animals. Students undergo training prior to and during field excursions on avoiding potential dangers. In addition to being vigilant and avoiding contact with potentially dangerous animals, students are not to walk off trail without supervision and without wearing appropriate clothing (such as high-ankle boots and snake guards).

Students are shown a specific way of walking in the jungle (single-file and a few paces apart from each other). We walk in this manner to avoid falling and tumbling down on top of the next person. It also allows ample time to warn the rest of the team in case of danger. The workers walk ahead of the team, with one staff member in front of the students, the students in the middle, and the other staff in the rear of the crew. No student is to walk trails alone or walk trails in groups without first informing and obtaining permission from the course instructor.

Environmental & Natural Disaster Risks
Belize is potentially subject to tropical rainstorms and subsequently floods. The PfBAP area is located in a tropical wet forest with a lot of rain with high humidity and very humid temperatures. The rainy season in Belize begins mid-June and ending November. Students are cautioned to be prepared for hiking and other outdoor activities in inclement weather (rains), heat and humidity. The field school dates are prior to the beginning of the rainy season to avoid potential weather issues.

Cultural Sensitivity & Student Responsibility
Central to any study abroad program is immersion in a new culture and surroundings, which can be difficult at times. Cultural sensitivity and cultural transition discussions will occur during orientation sessions and will be a dominant theme throughout the program.

Students are expected to act in a mature and responsible manner. The program staff may send home any individual whose conduct, in the opinion of the program staff, is detrimental to the program or to the other students. This includes uncooperative or disruptive behavior, alcohol abuse, illegal drug use, and failure to perform satisfactory academic work. Fees will not be refunded if a student is asked to leave the program early.

The avoidance of any illegal drug use, drug purchase, or drug sales cannot be stressed enough. Belizean officials inflict severe penalties on foreigners breaking domestic laws, especially illegal drug use. Students are cautioned that a foreign passport and ignorance of local laws will not protect them nor is it likely that anyone from the program or the U.S. Embassy/U.S. Government (or other embassies) be able to provide assistance if they are arrested or convicted for drug use or other crimes. An arrest of this nature will endanger the future of the project in Belize and may result in denial of future archaeological permit by the Institute of Archaeology (IoA) in Belize.

Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities should consult the HSU Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) in House 71, 707-826-4678, and read about the specific housing and field conditions at the R.E.W. Adams Research Facility before applying. Students are encouraged to meet with faculty to discuss any accommodations needed for the program. Reasonable accommodations may be available for students who have a documented disability. All accommodations must be approved through the Student Disability Resource Center.

Health & Safety
This program will be physically challenging. While in Belize, students are required to hike for many hours daily in very warm and humid weather, while carrying a heavy pack. Students are also expected to be awake and ready for the field before sunrise. We leave for the field from camp at 7:15AM.

Participating students should be in good health, and should have a medical examination prior to departure to Belize. Students are responsible for obtaining all immunizations required by the US Public Health Service for Belize as well as the student's medical condition and history. Students can find information on vaccinations and health precautions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and the World Health Organization (WHO) web site.

Medical Facilities
Participants with health issues should be aware that the medical facilities are not the same standard as those in US. Program participants should purchase all prescription medicines needed prior to leaving for Belize, and should bring spare pairs of glasses and/or contact lenses if they wear them. Medical insurance via Wells Fargo Insurance Services for the entire duration of the program is required for each participating student and is paid directly by the student to Wells Fargo. The student may purchase additional coverage (e.g., luggage insurance, etc.) and/or additional length of time if desired.

PfBAP has first-aid kits in the field and large first-aid kits in the laboratory building in camp. Also, there is a nearby clinic for non-threatening illnesses. Medical assistance at the clinic is provided by a registered Mennonite nurse. She has been taking care of students, staff, and volunteers for many years. The course instructor will have her own vehicle to take my students to the clinic as needed. The Mennonite clinic is roughly 15-20 minute drive from camp.

Additionally, Northern Medical Plaza Hospital, located in Orange Walk, has a great facility and offers care for various maladies. The hospital in Orange Walk is roughly a 35-45 minute drive from camp. Belize Medical Associates, located in Belize City, provides excellent health care for any type of ailments. The latter is approximately a two-hour drive from camp.

Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid by all Belizean providers. Medical expenses that are covered by the required coverage via Wells Fargo and not billed by the Belize provider may be reimbursed to the student by filing a claim form. Most medical facilities accept credit cards. The Mennonite clinic is very inexpensive; the nurse has government grants to provide health care to the local villages, Mennonite communities, and the various archaeological projects in the Orange Walk vicinity.

Housing & Meals

Field school students will stay in the R.E.W. Adams Research Facility (the archaeology camp). HSU participants will share the camp with other field schools from accredited universities. They will have a chance to meet students from other universities that will be conducting research on other sites in the program area. Other field schools will be from other universities including Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and possibly Europe.

The R.E.W. Adams Research Station is a field camp located in the heart of the tropical rainforest. Facilities include a dormitory, kitchen, latrine, laboratory, and tent platforms. While at R.E.W. Adams Research Facility, students will stay in dormitory style cabin. The dormitory has eight rooms, with two bunk beds in each room. Each room will be occupied by four students. Males and females have separate rooms.

Students also have the option of staying in tents. Each tent will be occupied by two students. Mattresses and/or foam sleeping pads will be provided. Students are responsible for bringing linens, pillows, and mosquito netting.

Electricity is generated by a 10,000 watt generator that runs approximately three hours in the morning to provide light for preparing our breakfast and three hours in the evening for reading and study. Additional light or electricity is sometimes available (on sunny days) from electricity generated by solar panels.

Meals & Special Nutritional Needs
Program costs paid by students cover the cost of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meals are served at pre-set times in the morning, afternoon, and evening in a cafeteria-style setting. Meals generally include meat, rice and beans, and various side dishes (including fruit and/or vegetables).

Vegetarian options are available for most meals. However, it may be difficult to accommodate strict vegan diets, so be sure to inquire about this prior to applying if this is crucial to you.

During work days, we pack our lunch immediately after breakfast and eat in the field.

Water & Drinks
The only drinking water in camp is available from the taps in the back of the cafeteria and it is available at all times. There is also bottled water available for purchase in the cafeteria.

The hot weather can also cause water loss which can lead to serious dehydration. We encourage our participants to always carry water bottles when out in the field and to be sure to take sips of water continuously throughout the day. Everyone is expected to pack at least 4 bottles of water for the field (1 gallon total per person).

Additionally, during meals, there is a variety of free juice available (made with purified water).

Required Reading

  • The Maya, Seventh Edition (Ancient Peoples and Places). Coe, Michael D. Thames and Hudson. 2005.
  • Course Packet (series of articles on survey procedures and archaeology field techniques)
  • Belize in Focus: A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture.  Peedle, Ian. Interlink Books. 1999.

required reading


Resources & Additional Information

Students are required to register with the State Department prior to leaving for Belize at the website.

The Political Climate of the Country/Location

The information below was accessed on September 05, 2010 from:

Belize is a parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster model and is a member of the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II is head of state and is represented in the country by Governor General Dr. Colville N. Young, Sr., a Belizean and Belize's second governor general. The primary executive organ of government is the cabinet, led by a prime minister (head of government). Cabinet ministers are members of the majority political party in parliament and usually hold elected seats in the National Assembly concurrently with their cabinet positions.

As of September 05, 2010, there are no travel warnings or alerts for Belize. Updated information can be obtained via U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

U.S. Embassy in Belize
Floral Park Road
Belmopan, Cayo
Telephone: (501) 822-4011 (501) 822-4011
Fax: (501) 822-4012
Monday to Friday
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closed on U.S. and Belizean Holidays

The Embassy of the United States of America serves as the focal point for the U.S. Mission and is the primary federal agency leading foreign relations in Belize on behalf of the U.S. Government. In addition to the various sections of the Embassy, there are also other U.S. Government agencies working in Belize.



Marisol Cortes-Rincon
Office: BSS 538
Phone (707) 826-4335

Faculty profile for Marisol Cortes-Rincon
E-mail Instructor

HSU Offices

College of e-Learning & Extended Education
2nd Floor Student & Business Services Building
Phone: (707) 826-3731

Center for International Programs
Feuerwerker House (House 13)
Tel:  (707) 826-4142