Texas Tech University

Brett A. Houk, Ph.D.

Professor of Archaeology, Anthropology Graduate Coordinator

Email: brett.houk@ttu.edu

Phone: 806-834-8107

I am a professor of archaeology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at Texas Tech University. 

I teach courses on Maya archaeology, Texas prehistory, field archaeology, and cultural resource management. Please email me if you have any questions or comments about my courses or research projects.

My CV is available here.

Winner of a 2015 Professing Excellence Award, sponsored by TTU Student Housing.

Winner of the 2017 College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Research Award, Social Sciences.

Awarded a President's Excellence in Research Professorship for 2020–2022.

Recording a burial at Chan Chich, Belize


1996 Ph.D. in Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. Dissertation Title: The Archaeology of Site Planning: An Example from the Maya Site of Dos Hombres, Belize.

1992 M.A. in Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. Thesis Title: Excavations at Nak'nal (BA-22a): Small Site Investigations in Northeast Petén, Guatemala.

1990 B.A., cum laude, in Anthropology; Minor in Geology, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas.


My research is on ancient Maya urbanism and the relationship between divine kingship and architecture at the site of Chan Chich, Belize. I also study the Terminal Classic period, the collapse of divine kingship, and the abandonment of the great Classic-period cities of the Maya lowlands, as well as the reoccupation of western Belize by the San Pedro Maya in the late 1800s.

My major projects for the past several years have been three books for University Press of Florida. My sole-authored book, Ancient Maya Cities of the Eastern Lowlands was published in 2015. Using data collected from different sites throughout the eastern lowlands, including the Vaca Plateau and the Belize River Valley, the book presents the first synthesis of these unique ruins. Considering the sites through the analytical lenses of the built environment and ancient urban planning, the book reconstructs their political history, considers how they fit into the larger political landscape of the Classic Maya, and examines what they tell us about Maya city building.

My second book is a co-edited volume entitled Ritual, Violence, and the Fall of the Classic Maya Kings. Published in 2016, this is the first comprehensive volume to focus on the varied responses to the failure of Classic period dynasties in the southern lowlands. The contributors offer new insights into the Maya "collapse," evaluating the trope of the scapegoat king and the demise of the traditional institution of kingship in the early ninth century AD--a time of intense environmental, economic, social, political, and even ideological change.

A third book, Approaches to Monumental Landscapes of the Ancient Maya, came out in February 2020. This edited volume is a collection of chapters by scholars funded by Alphawood Foundation Chicago. It explores the varied ways in which archaeologists approach the concept of "monumentality."

Take a look at the website for the Chan Chich Archaeological Project to learn more about my ongoing research in Belize. 


Ritual, Violence, and the Fall of the Classic Maya Kings

ML Book cover

Just for fun, here's a 3D PDF of Stela 31 from Tikal. This was created from 17 iPhone photos of a replica in Mexico City.

Contact Information

Visit me: Holden Hall 277

Email mebrett.houk@ttu.edu

Call me: 806-834-8107

Send me something in the mail
SASW Department
Texas Tech University
Box 41012
Lubbock, TX 79409-1012

Ship me something via UPS or Fedex:
SASW Department
Texas Tech University
Holden Hall 158
1011 Boston Avenue
Lubbock, TX 79409

Random Star Trek Quote

"Insufficient facts always invite danger."

-- Spock

Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work