Cara Tremain of Langara's Department of Sociology and Anthropology and research partner Alec McLellan of Trent University (Ontario) were awarded a $53,000 in fall 2022 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). This funding allows them to start work excavating the ancient Maya Coco Chan site in Belize.

The research team will consist of Tremain, McLellan, a graduate student from Trent University, at least one student from Langara, and an undergraduate student from Galen University in Belize. Because of the limitations of accessing graduate studies in archaeology in Belize, there are a lack of opportunities for Belizeans to receive funding grants like SSHRC. Tremain and McLellan are working on building collaborations with archaeologists and students in Belize, so the SSHRC funding is beneficial to Belizeans as well as Canadians.

The research work will focus on finding evidence of Spanish presence at the Coco Chan site. As the core of the site is now set within a jungle, initial work will include cutting back vegetation to reveal more of the ancient settlement. The site has not been studied in detail before, so its size and how many ancient buildings there were is unknown. Further research will also be conducted using modern advancements such as drone technology and 3D scanning. This work will be conducted in Believe over four weeks in June 2023.

The SSHRC grant will be used toward initial research at the site. Tremain's and McLellan’s goals are to collect data that will provide more information about the site and to look for proof of ancient Maya interactions with the Spanish there. Depending on their findings, there is great possibility for additional research at the site specifically related to Spanish colonization.

Learn more about archaeology at Langara College. Visit our Sociology & Anthropology Department page for more information.