AFAR 2019 Research Outlook

The start of another day in the field…

The start of another day in the field…

AFAR will celebrate its 14th field season this summer. A good bit of growth has taken place during those years and we’ve moved from a team of four students tagging along with the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance (BVAR) Project for two weeks in 2006 to close to one hundred students and adults working on four different archaeological sites over the course of the entire summer. In my wildest dreams,  I wouldn’t have imagined that I would be working at historically significant sites in Belize, Spain, Greece, and Portugal, much less working on those sites with dozens of my own students and friends. It has been an archaeological thrill ride filled with great times and amazing discoveries and this summer promises to be even more exciting than the last twelve.

Our operations within the BVAR Project still remain the flagship in our large project fleet. Since 2006, we have worked alongside Dr. Jaime Awe and many great scholars investigating the classic Maya city of Cahal Pech in Western Belize. Our joint efforts have yielded a wealth of knowledge about this once great city and our focus on site preservation has developed the site, making it a top tourist destination in the area. Our team consisting of five archaeologists and fourteen students will return to the site from July 21 to August 4, when we will focus our efforts on continued excavations on the site’s western ball court. Our team first investigated the ball court in 2016, exposing the feature’s central playing alley and the interior walls of the two structures that create the alley and further explored its form and function in 2018. This season our research goal is to excavate the exterior walls of these two structures, seeking to better understand their utility and structural layout and also the central alley dividing the two structures. 


Although it is difficult to believe, this will be the sixth season of excavations at the medieval castle of Zorita de los Canes in central Spain. It’s warm residents and frontier landscape aren’t the only things that have left us in awe over the years. Ever so timidly, the gorgeous castle has revealed its secrets to our team over the years. Over the last five years we have looked into many sections of the castle, this year we will explore the dungeon in the Tower of the Counts and continue excavations in Area 4 to the north of the castle's chapel. We will run two separate two-week sessions During the 2019 season, which will be fielded by twenty-eight students. 

For the third straight summer, AFAR will investigate the ancient Macedonian site of Mieza in northern Greece. This site saw many occupations throughout the years, but the most famous residence would have to be Aristotle and Alexander the Great. In 2019, we will have the privilege to return again to dig a bit deeper in this little-understood crossroads of civilization with a team of thirteen students. A Roman-era bath complex was almost completely exposed in 2018 along with an associated Early-Christian cemetery. We hope to complete these investigations in 2019 and further explore the area surrounding the bath and cemetery.  


AFAR will return to the Roman city of Troia on the Atlantic coast of Portugal to work with an impressive team led by Dr. Inéz Vaz Pinto  Our team will continue to investigate the largest fish processing facility currently known in  the Roman Empire. Twelve students along with a half dozen professional archaeologists will uncover the story of this important coastal town that supplied the snack food for an empire. 

 If you are interested in following our progress in the field this summer, please visit our Facebook page. Space is available on each project so please reach out with interest.


ResearchSherri Johnson