The thing that makes the Maya at the Playa Conference so special can be seen below. We have gone to great lengths to coordinate a meeting of some of the best minds in the field of Maya archaeology and culture and you have the opportunity to learn right beside them. Many names and faces will need no description but we also have some of the brightest young stars in field who will be on site sharing their research.


Maya at the Playa 2018


Jaime Awe is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Northern Arizona University, Member Emeritus of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, and Director of the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project. During his extensive professional career, he has conducted research and conservation at all the major archaeological sites in Belize, and his Western Belize Regional Cave Project was the first to apply a regional approach to the study of subterranean sites in the Maya area. In December 2017, he received a Field Discovery Award from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in recognition of his ongoing discoveries and investigations at Xunantunich Belize. Awe has also published numerous articles in various books, journals, and magazines, and his research has been featured in several national and international television documentaries. He presently resides in Flagstaff, Arizona and he continues to conduct archaeological research in western Belize.

James Brady is best known for pioneering the archaeological investigation of Maya caves.  Between 1981 and 1989 he directed excavations at Naj Tunich (National Geographic, August 1981, Archaeology Nov/Dec 1986) and from 1990 to 1993 he directed the Petexbatun Regional Cave Survey (National Geographic, February 1993).  Moving to Honduras, Brady headed a three year archaeological investigation of the Talgua region (Cave of the Glowing Skulls, Archaeology May/June 1995).  Since 2001, he has led a Cal State L.A. field school to Peten, Guatemala.  He co-directed a project studying Ulama, a modern survival of the ancient Aztec ballgame Ullamaliztli (Archaeology Sept/Oct 2003; Smithsonian Magazine, April 2006).  From 2008-2010 he directed the investigation of Midnight Terror Cave in Belize and currently he is working at Chichen Itza.

Dr. Brady is widely published with over 125 publications to his credit.  He has edited, with Keith Prufer, In the Maw of the Earth Monster: Mesoamerican Ritual Cave Use, from the University of Texas Press and Stone Houses and Earth Lords: Maya Religion in the Cave Context, from the University Press of Colorado.

Dr. Brady's research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, two grants from the Explorers Club and three grants from the National Geographic Society. He has also won two Fulbright Fellowships, a Dumbarton Oaks Fellowship and a Samuel H. Kress/Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study of the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art.  He was a visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen in the Fall of 1998. He jointed the Department of Anthropology at California State University, Los Angeles in 1998 where he has been named Distinguished Faculty Alumnus (2006), Outstanding Professor (2008), and Presidential Distinguished Professor (2014-2015), the university’s highest faculty honor.

Dr. Brady's work has received considerable media attention.  He has appeared in television programs on National Geographic Explorer, The Discovery Channel, A & E, The Learning Channel, and The History Channel.  He has also been featured in Newsweek, National Geographic, Archaeology Magazine, Science News, New Scientist, Américas, The Economist and Smithsonian Magazine as well as a host of newspapers including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Allan B. Cobb has been working with archaeologists in Mesoamerica since 1989 as a caving specialist. The many projects Allan has worked on have taken him to Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and Mexico. He has explored and mapped caves for projects as well as providing logistical support to get archaeologists and students into and out of caves. In addition, Allan has assisted projects in developing methodologies and techniques for studying caves. He is currently working with the Gran Aquifero Maya Project in Yucatán and Quintana Roo.

Jeremy Coltman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Riverside. Recent research interests include Classic Maya legacies on later cultures of Mesoamerica, a topic now in the process of becoming an edited volume. Coltman has conducted fieldwork in Belize and for the past two years, has been working at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico. His dissertation is on the solar cult of war at Early Postclassic Chichen Itza.

Cameron Griffith is currently a faculty member in the departments of Geosciences and Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work at Texas Tech University and a research associate in the Garrison Institute on Aging of the TTU Health Sciences Center.  He has done archaeological work in Belize with the BRASS, BVAR, and WBRCP projects, at the surface sites of El Pilar, Baking Pot, Cahal Pech, Pook's Hill, Caracol, and Cahal Witz Na.  Cameron has also done extensive research in numerous cave sites in Belize and Honduras, such as Actun Tunichil Muknal, Actun Ka'am, Actun Yaxteel Ahau, Cueva Corralito, Cueva Especial, and Gordon’s Caves #’s 1-4.  Some of his research interests and skills include GIS, remote sensing, agent-based modeling, the anthropology of tourism, applied computational demography, and rock art.  Cameron is also currently involved in two separate research endeavors investigating the anti-diabetic properties of Chaya, a medicinal plant from Mesoamerica.

Stanley Guenter studied archaeology at the University of Calgary, La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, before receiving his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the latter in 2014. He has worked with three projects in Guatemala, at the sites of El Peru-Waka, La Corona, and a number in the Mirador Basin, as well as at Cahal Pech in Belize with AFAR, at Lake Minnewanka, in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada, and at Phnom Kulen in Cambodia. Stan's work involves combining archaeological, epigraphic, and ethnohistoric data to better understand ancient civilizations and their history, and to compare this with paleoenvironmental data to better understand how ancient societies affected and were affected by their changing climates.

Harri Kettunen - Harri Kettunen has carried out interdisciplinary research projects on Mesoamerican related topics, combining archaeology, anthropology, iconography, epigraphy, and linguistics. His publications include textbooks on Maya hieroglyphs, methodological studies on Maya iconography, and interdisciplinary articles on Mesoamerican related topics. Harri is currently working as an Academy of Finland Research Fellow at the University of Helsinki.

Maxime Lamoureux-St-Hilaire presently is a George Stuart Residential Scholar at the Boundary End Center, NC. Max received his Ph.D. from Tulane University (2018) and his M.A. from Trent University (2011). Max is most fascinated by how ancient governments worked and in trying to understand what this can tell us about our own political and economic systems. Specifically, he studies the nuts and bolts of Classic Maya royal courts as evidenced by their regal palaces. Recently, Max has excavated the regal palace of La Corona, Guatemala, although his archaeological work has also allowed him to dig big holes in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Québec.

Shawn Morton is a Lecturer in Anthropology at Northern Arizona University. Much of his work has focussed on aspects of public performance and ritual within the ancient cityscape and broader landscape of the Maya region, including extensive work in the deep cave contexts of Belize. He is currently a co-Director of the Stann Creek Regional Archaeology Project.

Holley Moyes is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Merced and Associate Dean of the School of Social Science, Humanities, and Arts. As an archaeologist of religion her interest is in how ideologies affect social processes and human decision-making.  She specializes in ritual cave use and her volume Sacred Darkness: A Global Perspective on the Ritual Use of Caves (University Press of Colorado, 2013) is a testament to the ubiquity of ritual practice in caves over time and space. Although she has conducted research in Tibet, Israel, Turkey and the American southwest, most of her field research focuses on ancient Maya ritual cave sites and their role in the development, maintenance and demise of the Classic period political system. She worked with the Belize Regional Cave Project where she helped to develop archaeological cave recording methods and is currently the principal investigator for the Belize Cave Research Project which has documented over 30 caves sites over the last seven years as well as the Las Cuevas Archaeological Reconnaissance. Investigations at the Las Cuevas site in Belize provide an opportunity to examine ritual behavior during the tumultuous Late Classic period when Maya society was undergoing radical socio/political changes due to internal and external stresses.  

Dominique Rissolo - Biosketch not submitted

Jennifer Saracino received her Ph.D. in Art History and Latin American Studies from Tulane University (New Orleans, Louisiana) in May 2018. Her research is centered on cross-cultural encounters and interactions between the indigenous population and Europeans and their impact on the visual and material culture (particularly maps and cartographic representations) of Central Mexico in the early colonial period. Her dissertation focuses on the Mapa Uppsala, the earliest known map of Mexico City painted by indigenous artists after Spanish Conquest. She is currently Assistant Professor of Art History at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.

Brent K.S. Woodfill is an Assistant Professor at Winthrop University and a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution. He is the director of the multidisciplinary Proyecto Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, which combines archaeology, ethnography, ethnohistory, ecology, geology, and community development to understand the economic, political, and religious importance of the eponymous archaeological site and current neighbors. He received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University after conducting fieldwork at caves and mountaintop shrines at the base of the Guatemalan highlands. He has previously taught at Georgia State University, the University of Louisiana, and Slippery Rock University.

Gabe Wrobel  is an associate professor of anthropology at Michigan State University, specializing in bioarchaeology. He directs the Central Belize Archaeological Survey Project, on which he and his students investigate mortuary contexts primarily in caves and rockshelters. He has also conducted bioarchaeological research in Egypt and the southeastern US, and has recently joined a collaborative project studying the population history of Papua New Guinea.

Marc Zender received his PhD from the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology of the University of Calgary in 2004. He has taught at the University of Calgary (2002-2004) and Harvard University (2005-2011), and is now an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Tulane University, New Orleans, where he has taught linguistics, epigraphy, and Mesoamerican indigenous languages (e.g., Yucatec and Ch’orti’ Maya, Classical and Modern Nahuatl) since September 2011. Marc’s research interests include anthropological and historical linguistics, comparative writing systems, and archaeological decipherment, with a regional focus on Mesoamerica (particularly Mayan and Nahuatl/Aztec). He is the author of several books and dozens of articles exploring these topics. In addition to his research and writing, Marc is the editor of The PARI Journal, and (with Joel Skidmore) co-maintainer of Mesoweb, a major Internet resource for students of Mesoamerican cultures.