Estrada-Belli has deep Guatemalan-Maya roots
By National Geographic Society
Published: June 9, 2004
Archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli of Guatemala is assistant professor of Mesoamerican archaeology at Vanderbilt University. Born in Rome, Italy, he decided to become an archaeologist when he became fascinated with the Maya site of Tikal as a young boy living in Guatemala. He went on to graduate with a B.A. cum laude in archaeology and anthropology from the University of Rome in 1991 and received a Ph.D. in archaeology from Boston University in 1998.
Estrada-Belli, 40, has extensive experience studying Maya civilization and landscape use. He also focuses on settlement patterns, remote sensing, computer applications in archaeology and maritime archaeology. He has conducted fieldwork, beginning in 1983, in Italy, New England and Guatemala. His current research includes fieldwork at and around Holmul, an ancient Maya city in the heart of the tropical forest of Petén , Guatemala. Discovered in 1911 by a Harvard University expedition, Holmul has remained largely unexplored. In 2003, at the nearby ancient Preclassic center of Cival, Estrada-Belli uncovered monumental sculptures and elaborate offerings that shed new light on the earliest beginnings of Maya dynastic symbolism. His discoveries at Cival are highlighted in the National Geographic Special "Dawn of the Maya,” which will be broadcast in the United States on PBS on May 12.
Estrada-Belli has written a book monograph on the archaeology of southeastern Guatemala and authored or co-authored more than two dozen professional articles and chapters on a variety of topics, including Preclassic, Classic and Postclassic Maya archaeological sites, Maya burial patterns, ceramic trade patterns, ritualized landscapes, and GIS and computerized analytical methods.