Gail Hammond

Title of research

Studies into ancient Maya settlement patterns have often focussed on large ceremonial, politically powerful centres. My research deals with smaller settlements that arc around the eastern edge of the Alacranes Bajo in far north-western Belize. Bajos are low-lying seasonally flooded areas, which may have been used as core agricultural resources. The Alacranes Bajo is a distinct environmental zone ringed by hundreds of structures, and land modifications, in groups of different sizes. As such it provides a unique opportunity to address questions about the integration of land resources and settlement without assuming elite or non-elite status on the part of community members, and is based on a Landscape Archaeology approach.

The aims of my research are to look into whether proximity to the Alacranes Bajo was an important factor in determining the settlement size, function and configuration of ancient sites located in present-day northern Belize, and if there is any evidence suggesting a ‘bajo-centric’ settlement pattern in this area - using the settlement of Nojol Nah as the main case study. Another consideration is whether the modern term bajo is even appropriate to use when discussing ancient settlements in their emic context, and the problems and challenges of demarcating a ‘site’ over space and time.

I have been involved with fieldwork - survey, mapping and excavation - at the Nojol Nah settlement area since 2009 under the Maya Research Program, which has been carrying out archaeological investigations in northern Belize for the past twenty years. The hoped outcome of my research is to contribute to expanding existing knowledge of settlements on the periphery of the Ancient Maya world, in order to learn more about their role in ancient Maya socio-political and economic dynamics.

Funding organisation

  • Maya Research Program


 Educational background

  • MA, Archaeology, UCL, 2009
  • BA, Archaeology, UCL, 2008

Institute of Archaeology Graduate Conference 2011 – Water Soil and Stone: Ancient Maya Site Location and Natural Resources in Far North-western Belize. (February 2011)

Hammond, G. 2012. The Nojol Nah Settlement Zone Project. In T. Guderjan and C. Hanratty (eds) The Twentieth Annual Report of the Blue Creek Archaeological Project. Tyler: University of Texas at Tyler/Maya Research Program

SAA 2012 Meeting. Poster Presentation: Hammond et al ‘Continuing research using landscape archaeology and GIS at Nojol Nah, Belize’

  • The Alacranes Bajo

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