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Archaeological Society presents program by Dr. Jaime J. Awe


Dr. Jaime J. Awe will be the evening’s speaker who will present: Let’s Talk of Graves, Eccentrics and Epitaphs: The Socio-Political Implications of Recent Discoveries at Xunantunich, Belize

Dr. Jaime J. Awe will be the evening’s speaker who will present: Let’s Talk of Graves, Eccentrics and Epitaphs: The Socio-Political Implications of Recent Discoveries at Xunantunich, Belize


Originally Published: September 18, 2017 1:56 p.m.

The next monthly meeting of the Verde Valley Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society, will be held on Thursday, Sept. 28, in the Community Room at the Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, at 7 pm.

If You Go ...

• What: Verde Valley Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society presents Dr. Jaime J. Awe

• When: Sept. 28, 7 pm

• Where: Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona

• How Much: Free

• More Info: Nancy Bihler 928-203-5822

Dr. Jaime J. Awe will be the evening’s speaker who will present: Let’s Talk of Graves, Eccentrics and Epitaphs: The Socio-Political Implications of Recent Discoveries at Xunantunich, Belize

Ongoing investigations and conservation efforts by a joint Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance (BVAR) and Belize Institute of Archaeology Project at Xunantunich have resulted in several significant discoveries at this major western Belize site.

In addition to a large royal tomb, caches of eccentric flints, and graffito, the finds include two hieroglyphic panels that implicate four royal courts of the Classic period, among them that of the Snake-head kings.

The discoveries also serve to demonstrate that, in spite of being the focus of explorations for more than a century, Xunantunich continues to provide us with intriguing new information on the significant roles played by Belize valley polities in the socio-political landscape of the Late Classic Maya lowlands.

Jaime Awe is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Northern Arizona University, as well as Emeritus member of the Belize Institute of Archaeology where he served as Director from 2003 to 2014. After receiving his Ph.D. at the University of London, England, he taught in the Anthropology Departments of Trent University in Ontario, Canada, then at the Universities of New Hampshire and Montana.

He joined the faculty at NAU in 2014.

During his extensive career in archaeology, Dr. Awe has conducted important research and conservation work at most of the major sites in Belize (including Altun Ha, Baking Pot, Cahal Pech, Caracol, Cerros, Lamanai, Lubaantun, and Xunantunich, and at Actun Tunichil Muknal, Chechem Ha, and Barton Creek Caves).

He has also published numerous articles in various books, journals, and magazines, his research has been featured in several national and international television documentaries, and he was a major collaborator on the Maya: Hidden World’s Revealed exhibition project that is presently being featured in several museums across the U.S.

When asked how he became interested in archaeology, he explained:

One day, at age 10, he and his older brother decided to dig in one of the mounds in Belize, which was located just behind their yard. At that time, known as the British Honduras, there was limited historical instruction on Belize and they knew very little of the ancient Maya.

They found a bag of potsherds, two obsidian blade fragments, and a broken mano. His career thus began as an “innocent looter”.

The effects of this first archaeological experience, nevertheless, had a lasting and profound impact on him. He kept thinking about the people who had built the mounds. How did they make those pots and tools? What did their children do for fun? Where were they now, and why did they leave their home on the little hill behind his parent’s house?

He moved to Belize City in the 70s to attend one of only two junior colleges majoring in Economics and Politics. Fortunately, his advisor, Father Richard Buhler S.J., had a Ph.D. in Anthropology and he had just convinced the president of the school to offer “Introduction to Anthropology” as an elective.

Awe signed up for the class and got much better grades in that elective than he did in his majors! Having no opportunity in Belize to pursue his education, he instead taught history at his former high school.

Exactly one and a half years later, he was offered the chance to apply for the post of archaeological assistant to the head of the Belize Department of Archaeology. He had been recommended by his college advisor, Father Buhler. One month later, in April of 1976, he became the junior officer of a two-person Department of Archaeology and hence his career and passion developed.

For over 40 years, since 1973, The Verde Valley Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society (VVCAAS) has been actively involved in the archaeology of the Verde Valley and the greater Southwest. 

The society is a volunteer organization with a long history of supporting professional archaeology, working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Museum of Northern Arizona Research Center, and Northern Arizona University. Whether you are a novice or professional, the Verde Valley Chapter welcomes everyone with an interest in archaeology and anthropology.

Admission is free.  For additional information or questions, contact: Nancy Bihler 928-203-5822.