Texas Tech University

Chan Chich Archaeological Project

IFODroneSpear PointBEASTSurvey

About the CCAP

The CCAP is an on-going research effort of Texas Tech University with a permit area covering over 144,000 acres in northwestern Belize. The project completed its thirteenth season of research at the ancient Maya city of Chan Chich and its fifth season of regional survey and excavation on Gallon Jug Ranch and Laguna Seca Ranch, under the auspices of the Belize Estates Archaeological Survey Team (BEAST), in 2019. See below for links to our available interim reports, articles, and maps.

The project studies the rise of divine kingship, the distinct evolution of Maya urbanism in the eastern lowlands, the demise of the monumental centers in the Terminal Classic period (AD 810–900), and the resettlement of the lowlands by the Maya centuries later. Between 2016 and 2018, the project investigated essential components of the above overarching research foci including the development of the royal acropolis; craft production, distribution, and exchange in urban and suburban contexts; the possibility that one elite courtyard was built as a defensive enclave; and the nature of life at Kaxil Uinic. The project also conducted aerial survey and mapping using drones, mapped and tested previously recorded sites, and conducted other regional studies.

In 2016, the CCAP conducted excavations at Chan Chich, investigated the rise of divine kingship during the Terminal Preclassic at the Upper Plaza and the abandonment of the site during the Terminal Classic at Norman's Temple. BEAST conducted the second season of excavations at the historic Maya village of Kaxil Uinic and surveyed over 14 square kilometers of cleared pasture with a drone. The 2016 season's interim report is now available for download.

In 2017, the CCAP continued excavations in the Upper Plaza at Chan Chich, exposing a buried early Late Preclassic building nicknamed Blanca and documenting a fascinating burial with indications that it may be a royal interment. The project also excavated a residential courtyard southeast of the Main Plaza, and investigated a stone tool workshop in the northeastern corner of the Main Plaza. The 2017 season's interim report is now available for download.

In 2018, the project continued work in the Upper Plaza and at the stone tool workshop near Structure A-6. For the first, time BEAST conducted mapping and testing at the site of Gallon Jug, discovering a buried Early Classic (?) platform nicknamed Esperanza in the plaza at the site.

In 2019, we returned to the Upper Plaza to intensively study Structure A-13. BEAST, under the direction of Dr. Claire Novotny, produced a topographic map of the site core of Gallon Jug and conducted extensive excavations at a residential courtyard east of the Main Plaza.

Sadly, our 2020 and 2021 seasons were cancelled by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, we successfully returned to the field in June 2022 to renew excavations at Chan Chich and Gallon Jug. Our work included a collaborative research project funded by the National Science Foundation to study ancient Maya marketplaces. At Chan Chich we conducted systematic excavations to test the hypothesis that the North Plaza at the site served as a Late Classic marketplace! We are also thrilled to report that the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping (NCALM) at the University of Houston collected lidar data over our entire 590 square kilometer research area in May 2022. We hope to have the results by the end of 2022.

If you wish to support the CCAP through a financial contribution directly to Texas Tech University for the project, you can do so by clicking this link. Any contribution made to Texas Tech University is greatly appreciated and is tax deductible! Feel free to email Dr. Houk for more information about the project and our future plans.

Student Research

Between 2012 and 2019, the CCAP has supported seven thesis research projects. Each of the completed theses listed below are available through the Texas Tech University Library.

Kilgore, Gertrude
2018 Maya Household Identity and Domestic Activity Areas at Courtyard D-4, Chan Chich, Belize.

Sandrock, David
2017 BEAST Mode: Two Seasons of Archaeological Survey on the Gallon Jug-Laguna Seca Property in Northwestern Belize.

Booher, Ashley M.
2016 Assessing the Form and Function of the Sacbeob and Associated Structures at Chan Chich, Belize.

Bonorden, Alyssa Brooke
2016 Comparing Colonial Experiences in Northwestern Belize: Archaeological Evidence from Qualm Hill Camp and Kaxil Uinic Village. (winner of Outstanding Thesis Award for 2018 in the category of Social Sciences)

Vazquez, Edgar
2015 In Service of the King: The Form, Function, and Chronology of Courtyard A-3 at Chan Chich, Belize.

Kelley, Krystle
2014 Establishing the Acropolis: Two Seasons of Investigations in the Upper Plaza of Chan Chich, Belize.

Harris, Matthew C.
2013 A Short Walk from Paradise: Initial Excavations at Kaxil Uinic.

In addition to graduate student research, the CCAP and BEAST support undergraduate work, as well. Bridgette Degnan (University of Virginia) and Nicholas Kopp (University of Central Florida) have used data from the project for their honors theses.


Burial CC-B14



Data from the CCAP feature prominently in Ancient Maya Cities of the Eastern Lowlands, a book by Brett A. Houk published by University Press of Florida in 2015,  in Ritual, Violence, and the Fall of the Classic Maya Kings, edited by Gyles Iannone and colleagues (2016), and in Approaches to Monumental Landscapes of the Ancient Maya, edited by Brett A. Houk and colleagues (2020).

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Novotny, Claire, and Brett A. Houk
2021 Ancient Maya Patolli from Gallon Jug, Belize. Latin American Antiquity doi:10.1017/laq.2021.11.

Houk, Brett A., and Brooke Bonorden
2020 The "Borders" of British Honduras and the San Pedro Maya of Kaxil Uinic Village. Ancient Mesoamerica 31:554–565.

Houk, Brett A.
2020 Contextual and Compositional Comparisons of Abandonment-Related On-Floor Deposits at Chan Chich, Belize. Ancient Mesoamerica 31:89–98.

Houk, Brett A., and Ashley Booher
2020 All the World's a Stage: The Late Classic Built Environment of Chan Chich, Belize. In Monumental Landscapes: How the Maya Shaped their World, edited by Brett A. Houk, Barbara Arroyo, and Terry G. Powis, pp. 152–170. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

Houk, Brett A., Gregory Zaro, and Mark D. Willis
2020 Tikin Ha and Ancient Maya City Planning in the Eastern Three Rivers Adaptive Region. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 17:93–104.

Jacobson, David, Tanvi Honap, Cara Monroe, Justin Lund, Brett A. Houk, Anna Novotny, Cynthia Robin Cynthia, Elisabetta Marini, and Cecil Lewis
2020 Ecology and Ancient Human Microbiomes. Philosophical Transactions Royal Society B 375:20190586.

Kilgore, Gertrude, Claire Novotny, and Brett A. Houk
2019 Household Archaeology, Late Classic Occupation, and Terminal Classic Abandonment at Courtyard D-4, Chan Chich, Belize. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 16:271–281.

Bonorden, Brooke, and Brett A. Houk
2018 Kaxil Uinic: Archaeology at a San Pedro Maya Village in Belize. In Archaeologies of the British Empire in Latin America, edited by Charles Orser, Jr., pp. 13–35. Springer International Publishing, Cham, Switzerland.

Gallareta Cervera, Tomás, Brett A. Houk, and Claire Novotny
2018 The Development of Terminal Preclassic and Early Classic Royal Architecture at Chan Chich, Belize. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 15:141–151.

Harrison-Buck, Eleanor, Brett A. Houk, Adam R. Kaeding, and Brooke Bonorden
2018 The Strange Bedfellows of Northern Belize: British Colonialists, Confederate Dreamers, Creole Loggers, and the Caste War Maya Refugees of the Late Nineteenth Century. International Journal of Historical Archaeology. Published online, May 3, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-018-0461-6.

Bonorden, Brooke, and Brett A. Houk
2016 Archaeological Investigations at Kaxil Uinic and Qualm Hill, Two Colonial Period Sites in Northwestern Belize. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 13:337–347.

Booher, Ashley, and Brett A. Houk
2016 Investigating Processional Architecture at Chan Chich, Belize. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 13:261–271.

Herndon, Kelsey, Gregory Zaro, Brett A. Houk, David Sandrock, Edgar Vazquez, and Ashley Booher
2015 Investigating Urban Form and Kingship: Preliminary Results of the 2014 Chan Chich Archaeological Project. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 12:339–346.

Houk, Brett A., and Gregory Zaro
2015 Lithic Production and Domestic Economy in an Ancient Maya Neighborhood at Chan Chich, Belize. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 12:127–134.

Houk, Brett A., Krystle Kelley, David Sandrock, and Kelsey E. Herndon
2014 The Chan Chich Archaeological Project and the Belize Estates Archaeological Survey Team, 2013 Season. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 11:327–336.

Houk, Brett A.
2011 The Curious Case of Kaxil Uinic. Mono y Conejo 6:3–7.

Houk, Brett A., Hubert R. Robichaux, and Fred Valdez, Jr.
2010 An Early Royal Maya Tomb from Chan Chich, Belize. Ancient Mesoamerica 21:229–248.

Interim Reports

2022 Season Report (24.1 mb)

2019 Season Report (13.5 mb)

2018 Season Report (8.7 mb)

2017 Season Report (75.2 mb)

2017 Season Report (11.6 mb) This version is an optimized PDF and a much smaller file.

2016 Season Report (54 mb)

2016 Season Report (7.6 mb) This version is an optimized PDF and a much smaller file.

2015 Season Report (60 mb)

2015 Season Report (10 mb) This version is an optimized PDF and a much smaller file.

2014 Season Report

2013 Season Report

2012 Season Report

1998 and 1999 Seasons Report

1997 Season Report

CCAP Field Manual

CCAP Field Manual, Version 1.0, 2015 (iBook version). This version is meant to be read on an iPad and includes interactive features. 

CCAP Field Manual, Version 1.0, 2015 (PDF version). This version lacks the interactive features that are found in the iBook version.

Maps and Drawings

Chan Chich Site Map (Large)

Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work