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Anthropology Research

Chan Chich Archaeological Project

PI: Dr. Brett A. Houk, Assistant Professor

Project Dates: On-going, 2012 to present.
Project Funding: Cost-sharing field school with startup support from College of Arts and Sciences, SASW, and TTU Office of Vice-President for Research ($45,000 combined)

Summary: In 2012, Brett A. Houk renewed the Chan Chich Archaeological Project (CCAP), which had previously operated between 1996 and 2001. The CCAP includes an archaeological field school run through Study Abroad and is supplemented by grants and other funds. In 2012, two graduate students conducted thesis research as part of the project. Investigations targeted two very different questions and sites. First, remote sensing and large block excavations were used to study the Upper Plaza at Chan Chich, a part of the site first studied in 1997. Second, two graduate students supervised mapping and testing at Kaxil Uinic, a smaller Maya site 2.6 km west of Chan Chich. The Kaxil Uinic investigations included relocating a historic Maya village and chicle camp approximately 0.5 km away from the prehistoric ruins.

Right now, the CCAP is trying to raise funds to conduct a LiDAR survey of at least 36 square kilometers around the site. Such a survey will cost around $20,000. If you are interested in supporting this research, please consider making a donation to the Latin American Archaeology Research Fund and specify "Chan Chich Archaeological Project" in your gift. Our ultimate goal is generating funding to survey the entire 135,000-acre Gallon Jug ranch, a more ambitious effort that will cost around $190,000.




Numu Tekwapu: Revitalizing and Teaching the Comanche Language

PI: Dr. Todd McDaniels, Assistant Professor, Comanche Nation College
PI: Dr. Jeff Williams, Professor, TTU

Project Dates: 30 September 2009 through 21 September 2011
Project Funding: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ($213,000)

Summary: With generous funding from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Native Americans, Drs. McDaniels and Williams are working with the Comanche tribe and through Comanche Nation College on a large-scale project to preserve the Comanche language. The project will plan, design, and create multimedia language learning tools as teaching materials to accompany Comanche language courses taught at and through Comanche Nation College. The teaching materials will form part of a comprehensive community plan to revitalize the Comanche language, which according to the most recent community assessment data has fewer than 25 genuinely fluent speakers. Comanche is the heritage language of the approximately 13,000 tribally-enrolled members of the Comanche Nation.

The demand for both Comanche language instruction and learning materials is strong within the Comanche community, especially among adults and elders. The project’s strategy is to involve college-aged students directly in the revitalization efforts since they will be the next generation of parents who could provide a Comanche-language centered household for children. Ultimately for the Comanche language to survive the negative impacts of the boarding school experience and other innumerable linguistic atrocities, its transmission from parents to children has resume.



La Milpa Core Project

PI: Dr. Brett A. Houk, Assistant Professor

Project Dates: On-going, 2007 to present.
Project Funding: Cost-sharing field school, TTU Research Enhancement Fund Grant, and National Geographic Society grant for the 2011 season ($125,000–175,000 combined)

Summary: The La Milpa Core Project (LMCP) has been investigating the southern plazas at La Milpa, Belize each summer since 2007. La Milpa is the third largest Maya ruin in Belize and was occupied for nearly 1,500 years. The LMCP has been funded by the cost-sharing Field School in Maya Archaeology each season and by an internal Research Enhancement Fund (REF) grant during the 2009 season. The REF grant was used to investigate Structure 21, the fifth largest pyramid at La Milpa. The LMCP has made significant discoveries relating to the nature of Plaza B at La Milpa, radically altering the previously established architectural history for the site and uncovering important information regarding ritual planning during the Late Classic period (ca. A.D. 600–800). New radiocarbon dates from multiple contexts have shown that La Milpa was occupied for as much as a century longer than previously believed. Two of these dates come from a dense deposit of artifacts in Courtyard 100, showing significant activity during the Terminal Classic period. The 2011 season was supported by a grant from the National Geographic Society to investigate the Terminal Classic occupation at Courtyard 100. The research of the LMCP is resulting in two MA theses, and numerous papers, reports, and articles by the PI.



Casilina East Service Area Archaeological Project

Project Consultant: Dr. Robert Paine, Professor

Project Dates: On-going, 2006 to present.
Project Funding: Italian government grant.

Summary: This is contact archaeology project that involves the recovery and paleopathological assessment of the Roman Republic and Imperial Roman period burials from the archaeological site of Aquinum, Italy. The archaeological and paleopathological company working this site is Charun S.r.l. of Rome. The site was discovered as part of a motorway service area (The Casilina East Service Area) construction project in part sponsored by the interest group Autostrade. The Roman town of Aquinum is near the modern city of Casilina, Italy. The burials date from the 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD. During the 2007 field season 125 burials were recorded and examined. The most interesting individual examined so far is a male suffering from leprosy. The paleopathological analysis has been presented at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in 2008. The 2009 field season uncovered over 250 additional burials; they have yet to be examined. One tomb yielded over 100 burials. The paleopathological assessment of the newly recovered burials will continue in 2009–2010.