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Brent Woodfill

Brent has been involved in archaeological research for over 15 years. He joined BVAR as a student in 1998 and returned as junior staff member in 2000, working at Barton Creek Cave. His honors thesis at Macalester College, “Caves and the Rise of the Late Preclassic Maya Elite,” was related to his fieldwork in the Belize Valley.

He is currently a doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University and working as the director of the Vanderbilt Upper Pasión Archaeological Cave Survey, a subproject of Proyecto Arqueologico Cancuen. His work focuses on the Candelaria Caves National Park in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, a major pilgrimage center in the latter part of the Early Classic period (AD 350-600) related to the first major expansion of Tikal and its control over the trade routes between the highlands and lowlands. Investigations have focused both on the approximately 30 km of cave and on several small surrounding villages which were occupied after the system lost much of its importance.

In addition, Brent is involved with local community development, helping to create sustainable, responsible tourism in the Candelaria Cave system run by two small Q’eqchi’ communities. He led a group of development workers and Q’eqchi’ villagers on a trip to Belize to see Chechem Ha, Barton Creek Cave, and Actun Tunichil Muknal in order to experience already functioning cave tourism and is, along with Counterpart International and members of BVAR and the WBRCP, currently involved with strengthening ties between the tourist industries of northern Alta Verapaz and Belize.

Research interests include:

    The anthropology of ritual
    Ceramic analysis
    Practice theory
    Early Classic political organization