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Belize Summer 2010 Handbook - In

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					                                         San Ignacio, Belize
                              Program Handbook - Summer 2010
The Belize Summer Field Program in Maya Archaeology program is offered by
International Academic Programs (IAP) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This IAP
Program Handbook supplements the IAP Study Abroad Handbook and provides you with
the most up-to-date information and advice available at the time of printing. Changes may
occur before your departure or while you are abroad.

Questions about your program abroad (housing options, facilities abroad, etc.) as well as
questions relating to academics (e.g. course credit and equivalents, registration deadlines,
etc.) should be directed to International Academic Programs at UW-Madison.

This program handbook contains the following information:

Contact Information ........................................................................................................... 1
Program Dates .................................................................................................................. 2
Preparation Before Leaving ............................................................................................... 2
Travel and Arrival Information............................................................................................ 5
The Academic Program ..................................................................................................... 5
Living Abroad .................................................................................................................... 7

Contact Information
On-Site Program Information
Dr. Jason Yaeger
Resident Director
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology at UW-Madison

UW-Madison Information
International Academic Programs (IAP)
University of Wisconsin-Madison
250 Bascom Hall, 500 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53706
Tel: 608-265-6329, Fax: 608-262-6998

For Program Advising & Grades:
Tammy Gibbs
IAP Study Abroad Advisor
Tel: 608-261-1020

Emergency Contact Information

Summer 2009
In case of an emergency, Dr. Jason Yaeger can be reached by cell phone (from the U.S.
dial 011, then 501 (country code), then 622-2587), and Nabitunich (housing facilities) has
a land line (823 2309). These phone numbers should be used in emergencies only.

In case of an emergency, individuals can also call the main IAP number (608) 265-6329
between 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; after-hours or on weekends call the IAP staff
on call at (608) 516-9440.

Embassy Registration
All program participants who are U.S. citizens must register at the U.S. Embassy before
departure as this will help in case of a lost passport or other mishap. You can register on-
line at If you are not a U.S. citizen, register at your
home country‟s embassy or consulate.

U.S. Embassy in Belmopan, Belize
Floral Park Road
Belmopan, Cayo
Tel: +501-822-4011, Fax: +501-822-4012

Program Dates
Arrival Day/First day of program: May 31, 2010
Departure day: June 28, 2010

* See “Travel and Arrival Information” for details on arrival/departure time.

Preparation Before Leaving
Refer to the Pre-Departure Checklist on pages four and five of the IAP Study Abroad
Handbook for essential information.

Immigration Documents
U.S. citizens will need a valid passport to travel to Belize. Apply immediately for a
passport if you do not already have one. Passport information and application forms can
be found on the U.S. State Department website ( If you
already have your passport, make sure it will be valid for at least 6 months beyond the
length of your stay abroad. Non-U.S. citizens should contact the Belize embassy to
determine entry requirements.

U.S. citizens do not need visas for tourist visits of up to thirty days, but they must have
onward or return air tickets and proof of sufficient funds to maintain themselves while in
Belize. All non-Belizeans are required to pay an exit fee of U.S.$35 when leaving Belize.
Additional information on entry and customs requirements may be obtained from the
Embassy of Belize at

Summer 2010
Health Information
Consult with your health care professional(s) about your trip to Belize, as well as the
Center for Disease Control (CDC) website at The CDC recommends
the use of an anti-malarial drug, chloroquine prophylaxis, and a rabies vaccine is
recommended but not required for travel to Belize.

Handling Money Abroad
The Belize Dollar (BZ$) is commonly exchanged at BZ$2 to US$1. Most hotels, resorts,
restaurants, and tour operators will accept U.S. currency, traveler's checks, or credit
cards. When using your credit cards in Belize, most establishments will add a 5% service
charge to your bill. Always make sure that you understand which dollar rate is being
quoted. Is it Belize Dollars or U.S. Dollars?

The program fee covers your tuition, round-trip transportation to and from the Belize City
airport on May 31 and June 28th, and transportation, guides, and meals on all excursions.
The fee also covers meals with the group, but students will be responsible for their own
drinks and any meals they choose to have away from the group. Students will be
responsible to pay out-of-pocket for international transportation, course reading materials,
drinks, telephone and internet use, entertainment costs, and exit fee upon leaving Belize.

We recommend you bring US cash or traveler's checks for your personal expenses.
Credit cards are accepted in some hotels and shops, and they can be used to get cash at
the bank, but there is a service charge. ATMs are not common. There are a few in the
country, but it is best not to rely on them.

Here is a recommended packing list for the program:

Belize is very casual, so you don‟t need dressy clothes, although you may want a nice
shirt / blouse and pants or skirt for going out in town. You will be able to wash your own
clothes or pay somebody to wash them for you, but you should bring enough clothes for 5-
7 days as outlined:

      Field clothes: The key is balancing protection from bugs, thorns, and sun, with not
       overheating. Avoid dark colors, heavy fabrics, and polyester; think cotton and
       breathable fabrics. We recommend lightweight but durable long pants. You could
       wear jeans, but they are heavy and hot. We also suggest cotton T-shirts or light,
       long-sleeved shirts. T-shirts are cooler, but they do not protect you from the sun
       as well. Shorts and T-shirts are great when you‟re working in the lab or hanging
       around camp. Bring at least one long-sleeved shirt for the occasional cool
       evening. Remember these are field clothes – don‟t bring your nicest outfits, as
       they will get torn, stained, and very sweaty.
      Weekend clothes for excursions: Shorts or long-pants, T-shirts. Please, no
       muscle shirts, short-shorts, or dirty or ragged clothes when in town or visiting sites.
      Footwear: You should bring a pair of good walking shoes or boots. They will likely
       get wet, so heavy hiking boots are not recommended because they don‟t dry

Summer 2010
       quickly. Something with vents is also recommend so your feet don‟t get too hot.
       Some people like sneakers or cross-trainers. Bring calf-length socks to protect
       your ankles from irritating plants, and so you can tuck your pant legs in to protect
       against ticks.
      A pair of tevas or other sandals for wearing around camp and into the river,
       preferably not leather (if they get wet, they don‟t dry out well).
      Swimming suit
      Hat (preferably one that covers your ears) and sunglasses

The program will supply all of the archaeological gear and equipment you will need, but
you should bring:
    Small backpack or day pack.
    Canteen or water bottle. A wide-mouth bottle is easiest for mixing Gatorade and
       for washing, but anything will do. 1-liter plastic bottles can be purchased locally.
    Work gloves (optional). You‟ll be shoveling and picking and doing hard work. If
       your hands are soft, bring cotton or light canvas work gloves that dry quickly.
    Insect repellent. Dr. Yaeger prefers 100% DEET, but others use Deep Woods Off
       or Skintastic.
    Permanone (optional). This is a synthetic pyrethrin that you spray on your pant
       legs. It lasts 2 weeks and repels and kills ticks and other pests. This item is
       banned in California.
    Sunscreen with a high SPF (at least 15!).
    Poncho or other rain gear. Do not bring an umbrella.
    Trowel (optional). A pointed, bricklayer-type trowel; most prefer the Marshalltown
       brand, and a 4½-inch or 5-inch is best.
    Compass (optional). A plate compass like those made by Brunton, Silva, Suunto,
    Pocket knife (optional). Do NOT put it in your carry-on!
    If you really want to go „hard-core‟, bring a 3-meter tape measure (make sure it‟s
       metric), a line level, and a plumb bob.

Personal items
If you have a certain comfort food or snacks you need, you might want to bring some
(candy, granola, power bars, gum, beef jerky, etc.) Most of this is available in Belize, but
if there‟s something you really need, be on the safe side and pack it. Gatorade is a good
idea, too.

You might want earplugs for swimming or sleeping (if your roommate snores!), and some
people bring a small battery-powered fan for evenings. For recreation, bring some
reading material or DVDs. And of course, bring a camera and film (which is expensive in
Belize, but available). Some people like to bring a diary or a sketch pad.

Summer 2010
We recommend against bringing valuable electronic equipment, as it can be the target of
theft or ruined by the frequent power surges and outages. For the items you do bring, the
electricity in Belize is 110V, just like the U.S.

Travel and Arrival Information
Students must arrive at the Belize international airport outside of Belize City on May 31,
2010. A group pickup will be arranged for travel to San Ignacio. There are relatively few
flights to Belize. As of March 2010, they are:

   Taca Airlines 410 from Chicago via Guatemala and San Salvador, arrives 9:42am
   American Airlines 2103 from Miami, arrives 10:20 am
   Continental Airlines 1627/ United Flight 3322 from Houston, arrives 10:24 am
   Delta Air Lines 4345 from Atlanta, arrives 11:00am
   American Airlines 2173 from Miami, arrives 12:50
   Continental Airlines 1628/ United Flight 3323 from Houston, arrives 14:40
   American Airlines 2193 from Dallas/Ft. Worth, arrives 14:50

Dr. Yaeger will make one group pick-up at the Belize City airport on May 31. When
purchasing your ticket, please be sure to arrive before 4:00 pm. It is a two-hour drive back
to San Ignacio, and it is best if we return to camp in time to get unpacked and settled
before it gets dark. There is a later Taca flight (listed above), but it arrives too late in the
day, so please do NOT take that flight.

The program will also make one airport drop-off on the morning of June 28.

The Academic Program
General Information: Belize Summer Field Program in Maya Archaeology
This four-week program offers students the opportunity to participate in archaeological
investigations of ancient Maya sites in the Mopan Valley of Belize. Students will learn
about survey, mapping, excavation, recording, artifact analysis, and laboratory techniques
through evening lectures and workshops, and they will put those techniques into practice
each day at the field site and laboratory. Students will also learn about Maya
archaeology, architecture, and art by visiting important archaeological sites in the region
on weekend field trips.

The fieldwork site is located near the beautiful town of San Ignacio. Known locally as
"Cayo," San Ignacio is located in west-central Belize, cradled in a picturesque valley
between the Macal and Mopan Rivers. The graceful Hawkesworth Suspension Bridge
spans the Macal River to unite San Ignacio with Santa Elena, together called the “Twin
Towns.” Although Cayo has a collective population of only 13,600 people, it is ethnically
very diverse. In the Cayo marketplace you‟ll hear Spanish, English, Creole, Yucatec
Mayan, and Plattdeutsch, and you might even hear Garifuna, Chinese, or Marathi. The
region around San Ignacio is an ecotourism paradise, known for its beautiful rivers, jungle
caves, and important Maya sites.

Summer 2010
The program is directed by Dr. Jason Yaeger, Associate Professor of Anthropology at
UW-Madison. Professor Yaeger has 18 years of field experience in the Maya area and
has published widely on Maya and Inka archaeology, particularly on the topics of ancient
Maya urbanism, the organization of rural villages, and the Classic Maya Collapse. The
fieldwork that students will be conducting is part of his current research program to
understand the way people in the countryside between the large sites of Xunantunich and
Buenavista responded to political competition between those two sites.

Course Information
Students will spend 8 hours each weekday engaging directly in archaeological research.
Students will rotate between the field site and the field laboratory, so that they get to
experience all facets of archaeological fieldwork. Evening lectures, a field manual and
selected readings on archaeological method and theory will provide background to
students for their fieldwork, but most of the learning will be hands-on, experiential learning
under the guidance of the Resident Director, Field Director, and other project staff.

Students will also learn about Maya archaeology, art, and architecture through half-day
and full-day field trips to important archaeological sites in the region and relevant
readings. Participants will cross the Mopan River on a hand-cranked ferry to visit
Xunantunich, where everyone can climb the 140-tall pyramid called El Castillo and visit
the royal palace that Prof. Yaeger excavated in 2003. The program will also visit Cahal
Pech, nestled in the hill overlooking San Ignacio, and travel through the Mountain Pine
Ridge to reach Caracol, the largest site in Belize, its massive pyramids shrouded in dense
jungle. To fully understand how the Maya used the ancient landscape, participants will go
underground and explore Actun Tunichil Mucnal cave, where the Maya deposited dozens
of pottery vessels and a dozen people as offerings to their gods. Finally, the program will
visit one of the most impressive sites in all of the Maya world, Tikal, with towering
pyramids that reach over 210‟ tall, dozens of carved monuments depicting the site‟s kings
and queens, and a museum showcasing the incredible jade, pottery, and other objects
found in the site‟s royal tombs.

Upon successful completion of the program, students earn 6 UW-Madison credits:
Anthropology 370 (Field Methods in Archaeology) for 4 credits and Anthropology 453
(Study Abroad in Archaeology) for 2 credits. These courses will all count toward the 15
credits of upper-division coursework required for Anthropology majors, as well as the
fieldwork credits required for the Archaeology Certificate.

There will also be opportunities to design independent research projects for students who
wish to pursue a senior thesis or project in future seasons.

Because of the length of the program, students are not able to take these courses for

Grades in Anthropology 370 will be based on participation in fieldwork, labwork, and
lectures, and a final field report that includes all of your field notes and interpretations.

Summer 2010
Grades in Anthropology 453 will be based on participation in lectures and site visits, and a
final exam.

Living Abroad
Belize (formerly British Honduras until the name of the country was changed in 1973) lies
on the eastern or Caribbean coast of Central America, bounded on the north and part of
the west by Mexico, and on the south and the remainder of the west by Guatemala. The
inner coastal waters are shallow and are sheltered by a line of coral reefs, dotted with
islets called 'cayes', extending almost the entire length of the country.

There is a low coastal plain, much of it covered with mangrove swamp, but the land rises
gradually towards the interior. The Maya Mountains and the Cockscomb Range form the
backbone of the southern half of the country, the highest point being Doyle's Delight (1124
meters above sea level) in the Cockscomb Range. The Cayo District in the west includes
the Mountain Pine Ridge, ranging from 305 to around 914 metres above sea level. The
northern districts contain considerable areas of tableland. There are many rivers, some of
them navigable for short distances by shallow-draught vessels. A large part of the
mainland is forest.

Today Belize's population is estimated to be at approximately 273,700. The country is a
melting pot of many races and over the years the muliti-racial make-up has risen through
the influx of many people of Central America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. Males
outnumber the female population only by 1%.

The population census shows that the main ethnic groups: Mestizo, Creole, Ketchi,
Yucatec and Mopan Mayas, Garifuna and East Indian maintains a large percent of
Belize's population. Other ethnic groups: German and Dutch Mennonites, Chinese, Arabs
and Africans accounts for a small percentage of the population. The ethnic groups,
however, are heavily intermixed.

English is the official language of Belize. However, English Creole is widely spoken and
remains a distinctive part of everyday conversations for most Belizeans. Spanish is also
common and is taught in primary and secondary schools in order to further develop
bilingualism. Spanish is spoken as a mother tongue by the majority of the people in the
Orange Walk and Corozal Districts, north of Belize and the Cayo District in the west. In
the southern Districts: Stann Creek and Toledo, there are people whose first language is
Garifuna or Maya.

Belmopan is the capital of the country. Built in 1970, it is the seat of Government and has
been classified as the Garden City of the country. It was created following extensive
damage to the former capital Belize City, caused by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. Belmopan
is geographically located at the centre of the country, some 80 kilometers to the south-
west of Belize City on higher ground. It serves as a hurricane refuge for Belizeans and
has the largest number of hurricane shelters in the country. Its population today is
estimated at 11,100 and is increasing as more people relocate to the Capital. However,

Summer 2010
Belize City still remains the hub of commercial activity and one of the most urbanized
centers of Belize with a population of 58,000 people

Information in this section adapted from:

The group will be staying at Nabitunich, a rural eco-hostel dedicated to hosting study
abroad programs. Students will live in simple but comfortable rooms dotted along a
hillside with a wonderful view of Xunantunich. Each cottage has a ceiling fan and private
bathroom, and it has electric outlets. Nabitunich is in the countryside, and there is no
cable TV or an internet connection. Do not think you‟ll be bored after coming back from
the field, though. Besides the lectures that will take place some evenings, there will be
DVDs to watch, card games to play, and notes to type up. The resort is located only 5
minutes from a great swimming hole, and it‟s a working farm with horses that can be
rented by the hour. The group will go into San Ignacio or the nearby village of Succotz
several times each week, which will provide participants with an opportunity to use the
internet, call home, and/or purchase any personal items they need.

The group cannot easily accommodate visitors on the project, as we will be occupying all
of the rooms at Nabitunich and our field vehicle will be full with project staff and crew.
Furthermore, you will be fully occupied on weekdays and weekends from the duration of
the program. Therefore, if you have friends or family who would like to visit you in the
field, they should be advised to come at the end of the field season for you to meet up
with them after the program ends. If somebody will be visiting Belize during the field
season, please advise Dr. Yaeger immediately. He can recommend hotels and car rental
agencies. He also is able to show visitors around Buenavista, but he must be consulted in
advance and visitors will have to be responsible for their own lodging and transportation.

Students will take turns making simple breakfasts for the group in the Nabitunich kitchen,
as is the custom on archaeological projects in the region. Bag lunches made by
participants will be eaten on-site in the field each day. Dinner meals will alternate
between meals prepared by the group at Nabitunich and dining out at different restaurants
in the San Ignacio and nearby towns.

The program will do its best to accommodate all allergies and special dietary needs. It is
not always easy to do so, however, and Dr. Yaeger must be informed beforehand.

You should check with a travel health specialist as soon as possible to inquire about
recommended vaccinations and prescriptions. Your CISI medical insurance should cover
any health emergencies in Belize, but you should bring a full supply of any over-the-
counter or prescription medications and supplements that you need. Consider an anti-
diarrhea, just in case. Your prescription medications and supplements should be in their
original pharmacy containers, bearing the pharmacy label with your name (not anyone
else's name). Bring a copy of your prescription in case you need to request more in

Summer 2010
The program will have fully stocked first-aid kits, but it is a good idea to bring a personal
supply of aspirin, allergy medicine, band aids, antibiotic cream, etc. If you are allergic to
bee stings, foods, or plants, we strongly recommend that you ask your doctor about an
„epi-pen‟ in case of an allergic reaction. If you wear glasses or contacts, bring a spare

The rainy season begins in late May, so June can be rainy, with short but severe rain
storms. It won‟t rain every day, though, and it will be largely sunny. Day-time
temperatures are typically in mid-80s to low 90s, with night-time temperatures dipping to
as low as the mid-70s.

When making calls, keep in mind time zone differences
( Time observed year round is GMT-6, which is the
same as United States Central Standard Time. Daylight Savings Time is not observed in

To make an international call to the United States, dial the access code for the country
from which you are calling plus the United States country code (always “1”) followed by
the appropriate U.S. area code and local number. To call internationally from the United
States, dial “011”, the country code, city access code (if necessary) and the phone
number. Country and city codes can be found online
( Some of above steps can vary if you are
using a calling card.

Skype is a free, downloadable software application that allows users to make live video
and voice calls over the internet. Skype users can also add money to their account and
can then use the service to call land lines and cell phones internationally at very low rates.
Additionally, Skype also provides an instant messaging function as well as file sharing.

To create a Skype account, users must download the application from
and create a user name and password. Once the application is installed onto their
computer, they can search for friends either by first and last name or using their friends'
Skype usernames. Once a friend is added to a users contact list, they will be able to see
whether that person is available to chat. If two users both have web-enabled video
cameras for their computers, they will be able to chat face to face. For users without a
web cam, a microphone is all that‟s required for calls to another computer.

Websites of Interest

   International Academic Programs (IAP) at UW-Madison:

   General Orientation Information:
   (includes topics such as culture shock, international travel, etc.)

Summer 2010
   U.S. State Department:

   U.S. State Department Students Abroad site:

   Center for Disease Control:

   Current Exchange Rates:

Student Testimonials
I am very interested in going into the field of archaeology professionally, so I knew that
this field program would be great experience for me, and it was. I feel I learned many of
the skills needed to be an archaeologist; survey, excavation, lab work and more.

I wished to gain the knowledge and experience of archaeological field methods and gain
first hand knowledge of the environment of the ancient culture I have studied. Both goals
were fulfilled.

The best part of the program was the hands-on learning I had. I actually got to set up an
excavation unit, dig it, and help interpret it, which is a much better way to learn these skills
than by just reading about them.

This is the single best college experience I‟ve had, academically speaking.

Feeling absolutely comfortable in a different country and culture, and working outdoors for
~8 hours a day was personally rewarding. Intellectually rewarding was traveling to the
ancient Maya sites and seeing first-hand the products of the culture.

Summer 2010
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