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The Team

Dr. Terry Powis (Kennesaw State University), Project Director-My interest in Pacbitun began when I was an undergraduate at Trent University in the mid-1980s. At that time Dr. Paul Healy, Professor of Anthropology, was conducting major archaeological investigations at the site. When I returned to Trent in the mid-1990s as a graduate student I became involved in the research at Pacbitun, which was focused on defining the Preclassic period (900 BC-AD 250). It was this exposure to learning about the daily lives of the earliest Maya at the site that fueled, and continues to fuel, my archaeological research to this date. Beginning in 2008, with support from both Paul Healy and Jaime Awe, Director of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, I began my tenure as the Principal Investigator of the Pacbitun Regional Archaeological Project (PRAP). Today, the focus of research extends beyond the Preclassic period, incorporating studies by a number of graduate students, including Jenny Weber (Georgia State University), Jon Spenard (UC-Riverside), Kong Cheong (Trent University), and Arianne Boileau (Trent University). Since 2008, an archaeological field school has been run through Kennesaw State University. It is my intention with this field school to train students in the methods and techniques employed by professional archaeologists. My main goal is to prepare them for a successful career in archaeology in the 21st century. Find out more about Dr. Powis and Kennesaw’s anthropology program here


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADr. Sheldon Skaggs (Bronx Community College, City College of New York, and Georgia Southern University), Project Co-Field Director- I received my PHD in geoarchaeology from the University of Georgia, and a BA in anthropology from the University of Washington. I am an assistant professor at Bronx Community College, City University of New York, and an adjunct professor at Georgia Southern University. My primary focus is on archaeological tools and finding the source materials used in making the artifacts.  Additionally, I have  extensive geophysical survey experience in the state of Georgia, Belize, and Italy, participating in field schools in New Mexico, Sangro Valley, Italy, and Pacbitun, Belize.  I recently taught metal detection and shallow geophysics at Georgia Southern University. I have presented on geoarchaeology projects at DIG, SAA, and ISA conferences while also publishing in the Journal of Internet Archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Science, Journal of African Archaeology, and several archaeological texts. I am a cofounder and instructor for the RPA course on Advanced Metal Detecting for Archaeologists.


Dr. Jon Spenard (California State University, San Marcos), Landscape archaeology– I received my Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside (2014), my M.A. from Florida State University (2006), and my B.A. from Franklin Pierce University (1999). I have been working in the Maya area since attending the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance field school with Dr. Jaime Awe in 1998.  I returned there over the next two summers as one of the cave archaeology staff members.  I began an affiliation with the Cancuen project in Guatemala in early 2001 that spanned several years, which my Master’s research at Florida State University would eventually stem from. In early 2002, I had the opportunity to work in the Jolja caves in Chiapas, Mexico where I was one of three project members responsible for mapping the caves and reconnoitering others in the area.  I have worked off and on with the National Park Service and various CRM firms throughout the US Southeast and Southwest since 2003.  My current research is focused on understanding Pacbitun social organization by investigating if  local Pacbitun communities were using particular karst features (caves, rockshelters, bedrock outcrops, etc.) for ritual purposes.


George_SlothGeorge Micheletti (University of Central Florida), M.A., Project Archaeologist-I am a recent graduate of the Anthropology Master’s program at the University of Central Florida. George’s research at Pacbitun has primarily focused on the monumental architecture of Plaza A. Specifically, my thesis research investigated the E Group-like arrangement (Structures 1, 2, 4, and 5) in Plaza A. I have also been involved with the research and excavation of the Middle Preclassic sub-Plaza A platform, El Quemado. Terry Powis and I were recently awarded with National Geographic’s Research and Exploration Grant which will help to fund the digital preservation of El Quemado with the use of 3D modelling software.


Dr. Christophe Helmke (University of Copenhagen) Project epigrapher– Dr. Hemlke’s primary research interests are Maya archaeology and epigraphy. Other interests include ancient Maya cave utilization, household archaeology, Mesoamerican writing systems and rock art, as well as Amerindian mythologies. The majority of his research has focused on Mesoamerica, especially on the Classic Maya, the cultures of the Epiclassic in Central Mexico as well as Teotihuacan. Christophe is Associate Professor of American Indian Languages and Cultures at the Institute of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.





Jennifer Weber (University of Bonn), M.A., Project Co-Field director– I recently completed my masters thesis at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. Since starting my archaeological studies in 2005, I had the opportunity to work on numerous historic and pre-historic projects, including various Native American and historic sites in Georgia/US, the 18th century Fortress of Louisbourg in Canada, and the ancient Roman site of Waldgirmes in Germany. After a study-abroad visit to Belize in 2008, I participated in the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance field school the same summer, shifting my research focus to Maya archaeology. Specifically, I am interested in the various interconnections within the cultural landscape, with a focus on the peripheral area between Maya site centers and caves. Throughout my graduate career at Georgia State University I also developed a strong interest in computational archaeology, e. g. implementing productive modeling applications into my studies. In 2010, I joined the Pacbitun Regional Archaeological Project where I conducted a settlement survey in the periphery of Pacbitun as part of my thesis research. In addition to the landscape analysis conducted through settlement survey, feature excavations, and the application of GIS technologies at Pacbitun, I also continue to be engaged in Georgia archaeology through GADNR, where I started working in the Historic Preservation Division in 2009.


Nicaela (Nikki) Cartagena (The City College of New York) – Lab DirectorMy first degree is in medicine, and I am currently working on my second degree in Geoarcheology at the City College of New York. I joined PRAP during the summer 2014 field season as a student researcher working at “Mano Mound” and continued there in the summer 2015 field season. In 2016, I became PRAP’s lab director.






kaitlin-crowKaitlin Crow (New York University), Zooarchaeologist –I am a graduate student at NYU working towards my Master’s degree. My work at Pacbitun has been entirely focused around the Middle Preclassic temple, El Quemado, since I joined the project in 2015. Currently, I am researching Preclassic Maya sites and their faunal tool industries and contexts for my MA thesis.







Norbert Stanchly (Trent University), Archaeological Faunal AnalyistI am currently a part-time MA candidate at Trent University. I have conducted archaeological research in Belize since 1990 and have participated in excavations at over a dozen Maya sites including Cahal Pech, Lamanai, and Minanha. I am a specialist in Maya zooarchaeology and am currently completing my Master’s thesis on the analysis of faunal remains from the lowland site of Minanha with a specific focus on social zooarchaeology. I have conducted analyses of faunal assemblages from 17 different sites in Belize ranging in date from the Preclassic through to the Colonial period. During my 22 years of conducting research in Belize I have had the pleasure of working with researchers from a number of institutions including Trent University, Royal Ontario Museum, University College London, Boston University, SUNY Albany, and the University of Copenhagen. In 2001-2002 I worked with the Institute of Archaeology, Belize as site archaeologist for the Tourism Development Project at Lamanai. Although I currently reside in Toronto, Canada, I am married to a Belizean and consider Belize to be my second home.


 Former Staff

Arianne Boileau, Zooarchaeologist:  2011

Kong Cheong, Project Archaeologist 2010-2011

Jason Lee, Cave Archaeologist 2010-2011

Megan D. Parker, Paleoethnobotanist: 2012

Bryan Reece, Student Archaeologist:  2010-2011

Stephany Valdez, Cave Archaeologist 2010-2011

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