The mission of the PaleoWest Foundation is to support archaeological research, education, and preservation worldwide to advance the profession and create and sustain knowledge relevant to today’s world. To this end, the Foundation has established a research grant program to support innovative archaeological research. If selected, grants up to $5000 will be awarded to applicants. The number of awardees will depend on funding availability and the quality of the grant applications. Applicants must fill out the application form and submit it by March 31. There are no restrictions on who may apply. Requirements include allowing the Foundation to feature any Foundation-supported project on the Foundation’s website, on social media, and in presentations to the public. Phased research projects may be considered.
PaleoWest Foundation 2019 Research Grant Award Winner
Congratulations to Dr. Jon Spenard of California State University San Marcos for winning this year’s PaleoWest Foundation Research Grant award. The PaleoWest Foundation is pleased to support the 2019 field season of the Rio Frio Regional Archaeology Project.
The 2019 fieldwork is the second field season of a multi-year project in the marginally studied Mountain Pine Ridge/Rio Frio region of Belize. The long-term goal of the project is to document the ritual landscape through the detailed study of modification and material remains within caves, rock shelters, and other natural features, continuing both researchers’ work in the Belize Valley. It also seeks to understand how prehistoric Maya people used the unique resources of the region, to identify basic settlement patterns, and to model how local sites fit into regional exchange networks. Goals of the 2019 season include excavation, mapping, and digital documentation of several cave sites to build initial chronologies, identify regional affiliations, and document modification within the caverns as well as conducting limited surface reconnaissance to locate Maya settlement.
Another primary goal of the larger project is to advance digital documentation methods of cultural sites and conduct paperless fieldwork. Recent efforts include 3D feature and excavation mapping, 3D cave mapping, and the creation of virtual cave tours using spherical panoramas as well as the use of database driven field forms on iPads. Project staff have spent the last several years developing photogrammetric techniques for mapping features and portions of the caves nearly tripling the amount of data captured each season. These virtual recreations are an important tool in writing more detailed and accurate descriptions of cave environments after the research team has left the field and virtually bringing others into the cave. They can also be used as a baseline for assessing the effects of tourism and looting by modeling yearly changes.
Additionally, the project seeks to continue building community relationships with native Maya living in the nearby village of San Antonio, through project employment as guides and workmen and training of volunteers and local observers. This project comports perfectly with the mission of the PaleoWest Foundation and we are very proud to be a part of it.