Program Details

The educational goals of RBAS are to provide all participants with an intensive grounding in field archaeology and instill a sense of what archaeology can tell us about the past. Although the field school has produced a number of professional archaeologis
Belmopan, Belize
Program Type:
Volunteer Abroad
Degree Level:
Work Types:
1-3 months

Program Overview

Program Description:
The Rio Bravo Archaeological Survey (RBAS) is a summer archaeology field school that trains students in field methods within the context of a state-of-the-art research project focused on ancient Maya commoners. The program is situated in an unexplored, tropical rainforest in northern Belize, Central America, and can be taken for 3, 6, or 9 college credits through the Community College of Philadelphia or the University of Texas at Austin. Non-credit volunteers are also welcome.

The educational goals of RBAS are to provide all participants with an intensive grounding in field archaeology and instill a sense of what archaeology can tell us about the past. Although the field school has produced a number of professional archaeologists, it is not meant only for those who want to pursue archaeology as a career. The field school is intended for students with varied personal educational goals who want to learn through direct experience how archaeologists decipher the remains of ancient cultures. The educational atmosphere in the field school benefits strongly from the fact that we have a mix of experienced and non- experienced students and volunteers, with diverse backgrounds, who come from all over (and outside) the United States. Participants learn survey techniques (used to create site maps), excavation methods (test-pits, trenches, and post-holing), archaeological record-keeping (in the form of standard archaeological record sheets, notebooks, and photographs), historical interpretation of ancient architecture, processing of artifacts in the field laboratory, and if resources permit, geo-archaeological procedures for soil coring and analysis.

RBAS participants take part in state-of-the-art scientific research, learning, first-hand, about ancient Maya culture and expanding their intellectual and personal horizons. Participants are also elligble to work on Cultural Resource Management (CRM) projects in US, following completion of the field school. Additionally, a major benefit of attending the RBAS Field School is that veterans (both credit-earning students and volunteers) are welcome to ask the Director and other staff for written recommendations for college or graduate admission, college transfer, scholarships, employment and similar issues. In some instances, these recommendations carry particular weight because the staff evaluate participants outside of a classroom setting. Listing a field school on your CV enables you to use the RBAS as a talking point to highlight your ability to: -participate successfully in a multicultural and otherwise diverse work environment, -operate in a time-sensitive context and carry assignments through to completion, -work in a project-oriented setting, carry out problem solving, -collaborate closely with others to achieve important results All of these skills are desirable capabilities in the modern, professional, globalizing workplace – as well as in continued undergraduate and graduate education.
Setting Description:
RBAS takes place in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area (RBCMA), which is owned and operated as a wildlife and environmental reserve in northwestern Belize by the Programme for Belize, a non-profit conservation organization (full background here). This now heavily forested region was once thriving with dozens of cities, towns, and villages during the Maya Classic period (A.D. 250-800), supporting hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps more. Participants stay for the duration of the project at the Richard E. W. Adams Research Facility, a remote research camp in the RBCMA that operates under the direction of the University of Texas's Programme for Belize Archaeological Project (PfBAP). Several independent research projects, the RBAS among them, use this facility as a base from which they carry out investigations in the largely unexplored forests of the RBCMA.
The total cost for 4-weeks of food and housing is $1885 per student (the amount collected by RBAS). This figure covers food and housing during the field school, transportation to/from the airport (3 hrs each way), field equipment, and daily transportation within the research area. Additional, individual expenses for each participant (for which they make their own arrangements) include: airfare, inoculations, travel medical insurance, personal equipment, and miscellaneous costs. Other costs may

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