Following teaching at the University of Utah from 1961 to 1967, David Pendergast joined the staff of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, with which he had been connected since 1964. He held the rank of Curator until 1996, when he became Vice President for Collections and Research (Deputy Director); David retired in 1999, and has been linked to the IoA since 2002.
He began working in the Maya Area in 1957, and in Belize in 1961 and has directed large-scale excavations at the sites of Altun Ha 1964-1970 and Lamanai 1974-1986, as well as smaller projects elsewhere in the country.
Since 1979 he has worked closely with Elizabeth Graham on Belize projects and has also co-directed excavations at the site of Los Buchillones on the north coast of Cuba with Dr Jorge Calvera R. 1995-2004; this was the first archaeological project to receive the Cuban government's Premio Ciencias Sociales. The site has now been declared a National Monument.
- Ancient Maya society, focusing especially on architectural development in the southern Maya Lowlands, and on Postclassic (A.D. 900-1540) and early Historic remains.
- Mesoamerican archaeology in general
- Taino archaeology in Cuba, 12th century to early Historic
Selected recent publications
- White, Christine, Fred J. Longstaffe, David M. Pendergast, and Jay Maxwell: Embodiment and the Enigmatic Identity of the Lovers from Lamanai. In Bioarchaeology and Identity in the Americas, edited by Kelly J. Knudson and Christopher M. Stojanowski, pp. 155-176. University Press of Florida, Gainesville 2009.
- The Lessons of History: Perspectives from Lamanai, Belize, on the Interpretation of Stratigraphy, Core Content, and Midden Associations. In Onward and Upward!: Papers in Honor of Clement W. Meighan, edited by Keith L. Johnson, pp. 233-253. Stansbury Publishing, Chico, California 2005.
- Where's the Meat? Maya Zooarchaeology from an Archaeological Perspective. In Maya Zooarchaeology: New Directions in Method and Theory, edited by Kitty F. Emery, pp. 239-247. Monograph 51, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA 2004.
- Pendergast, David M., Jorge A. Calvera R., Juan E. Jardines M., Elizabeth Graham, and Odalys Brito: Construcciones de Madera en el Mar. Los Buchillones, Cuba. El Caribe Arqueológico 7:24-32, 2003.
- Teotihuacán at Altun Ha: Did It Make A Difference? In Teotihuacán and the Maya: Reinterpreting Early Classic Interaction, edited by Geoffrey R. Braswell, pp. 235-247. University of Texas Press, Austin 2003.
- Pendergast, David M., Elizabeth Graham, Jorge Calvera, and Juan Jardines: Houses in the Sea: Excavation and Preservation at Los Buchillones, Cuba. In Enduring Records: The Environmental and Cultural Heritage of Wetlands, edited by Barbara A. Purdy, pp. 71-82. Oxbow Books, Oxford 2001.
- Pendergast, David M., and Elizabeth Graham: La Mezcla de Arqueología y Etnohistoria: El Estudio del Período Hispánico en los Sitios de Tipu y Lamanai, Belice. In Perspectivas Antropológicas en el Mundo Maya, edited by Maria Josefa Iglesias Ponce de León and Francesc Ligorred Perramon, pp. 331-353. Sociedad Española de Estudios Mayas y Instituto de Cooperación Iberoamericana, Madrid 1993.
- Worlds in Collision: The Maya/Spanish Encounter in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Belize. In The Meeting of Two Worlds: Europe and the Americas, 1492-1650, edited by Warwick Bray, pp. 105-143. Proceedings of The British Academy No. 81. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1993.
- Up from the Dust: The Central Lowlands Postclassic as Seen from Lamanai and Marco Gonzalez, Belize. In Vision and Revision in Maya Studies, edited by Flora S. Clancy and Peter D. Harrison, pp. 169-177. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque 1990.
- Excavations at Altun Ha, Belize, 1964-1970, Volumes 1-3. Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto 1979, 1982, 1990.