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Arlen Chase

Visiting Professor of Anthropology
With Pomona Since: 2019
  • Expertise

    Expertise

    Arlen Chase has been interested in Maya archaeology since high school when he participated in a three-week trip to Guatemala to record carved stone monuments located deep in the jungle. Since that time, he has had a single focus on better understanding the fascinating ancient civilization known as the Maya. After working in Mexico and Guatemala, his research has been centered on the ancient Maya in the country of Belize and specifically at the site of Caracol, the largest known ancient Maya city with a population of over 100,000 people at AD 650. His work here has led to the investigation of a variety of topics: archaeological method and theory; urbanization and globalization in the past; the application of remote sensing techniques to understanding ancient settlement patterns, sustainability and landscapes; the use of ceramic and other artifactual materials to make interpretations about the distant past; the translation of Maya hieroglyphics and how the information contained within this ancient script articulates with excavated archaeological data; and archaeological ethics. His writing and books reflect these interests, as do his classes in anthropology. Besides teaching classes on the Pomona campus in the fall, every spring he takes a group of students to Belize to participate in archaeological research at the remote site of Caracol.

    An active researcher and scholar, he has authored over 170 articles and book chapters; digital copies of most of these may be found at his website Caracol. He has also authored or edited eight books and serves as a series editor for Maya Studies through the University Press of Florida, which has produced 20 volumes. He and his colleague-wife are in the process of completing their next book titled Maya Archaeology: Reconstructing an Ancient  Civilization.

    In 2012, Chase was elected as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His research has been featured in documentaries produced by National Geographic as well as in other works undertaken by the History Channel, Discovery Channel, and PBS, both in the United States and in Europe. He has also served as a consultant for several museum exhibits, the most recent one being Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed that was mounted by Science Museum of Minnesota and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and toured the United States from June 2013 through May 2019.

    Research Interests

    • The interpretation of the ancient past through the use of archaeological data in the Maya area
    • Complexity, sustainability and the coupled human-nature dynamic
    • Ancient urbanism and economic systems
    • Ethics and heritage management
    • The use of remote sensing (particularly LiDAR) data to enhance interpretations about the past.

    Areas of Expertise

    • Archaeological method and theory
    • Mesoamerican archaeology
    • Contextual, ceramic and settlement analysis
    • Maya hieroglyphic interpretation
    • Anthropological archaeology and the reconstruction of past lifeways
  • Work

    Work

    Recent Interviews

    Books

    2021 Tsubasa Okoshi, Arlen F. Chase, Phillipe Nondedeo, and M. Charlotte Arnauld, Editors, Maya Kingship: Rupture and Transformation from Classic to Postclassic Times, University Press of Florida, Gainesville. (March).

    2017 David A. Freidel, Arlen F. Chase, Anne Dowd, and Jerry Murdock, Editors, Maya E Groups: Calendars, Astronomy, and Urbanism in the Early Lowlands, University Press of Florida, Gainesville. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

    2014 Arlen F. Chase and Vernon L. Scarborough, Editors, The Resilience and Vulnerability of Ancient Landscapes: Transforming Maya Archaeology through IHOPE, American Anthropological Association, Arlington VA.

    2014, 2004, 1985 Arlen F. Chase and Prudence M. Rice, Editors, The Lowland Maya Postclassic, University of Texas Press, Austin.

    2013, 2003, 1994, 1992 Diane Z. Chase and Arlen F. Chase, Editors, Mesoamerican Elites: An Archaeological Assessment, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.

    1994 Diane Z. Chase and Arlen F. Chase, Editors, Studies in the Archaeology of Caracol, Belize, Precolumbian Art Research Institute, San Francisco.

    1988 Diane Z. Chase and Arlen F. Chase, A Postclassic Perspective: Excavations at the Maya Site of Santa Rita Corozal, Belize, Precolumbian Art Research Institute, San Francisco.

    1987 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, Investigations at the Classic Maya City of Caracol, Belize: 1985-1987, Precolumbian Art Research Institute, San Francisco.

    Articles & Book Chapters (last 5 years)

    2021 Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, and Adrian S.Z. Chase “Caracol, Belize and Tikal, Guatemala: Ancient Human-Nature Relationships in their Socio-Political Context,” in J. Larmon, L. Lucero, and F. Valdez, Eds., Sustainability and Water Management in the Maya World and Beyond, University Press of Colorado, Boulder (in press).

    2021 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, “The Transformation of Maya Rulership at Caracol, Belize,” In T. Okoshi, A.F. Chase, P. Nondedeo, and M.C. Arnauld, Eds., Maya Kingship: Rupture and Transformation from Classic to Postclassic Times, pp. 224-245. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

    2021 Diane Z. Chase and Arlen F. Chase, “The Rupture of Classic Maya Divine Kingship from the Perspective of Postclassic Archaeology, Iconography, and Ethnohistory,” In T. Okoshi, A.F. Chase, P. Nondedeo, and M.C. Arnauld, Eds., Maya Kingship: Rupture and Transformation from Classic to Postclassic Times, pp. 291-310. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

    2021 M. Charlotte Arnauld, Tsubasa Okoshi, Arlen F. Chase, and Philippe Nondedeo, “Changes in Maya Rulership at the End of the Classic Period: An Introduction” In T. Okoshi, A.F. Chase, P. Nondedeo, and M.C. Arnauld, Eds., Maya Kingship: Rupture and Transformation from Classic to Postclassic Times, pp. 1-17. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

    2021 Arlen F. Chase, M. Charlotte Arnauld, Diane Z. Chase, Philippe Nondedeo, and Tsubasa Okoshi, “The Rupture and Transformation of Maya Kingship: An Epilogue,” In T.​ Okoshi, A.F. Chase, P. Nondedeo, and M.C. Arnauld, Eds., Maya Kingship: Rupture and Transformation from Classic to Postclassic Times, pp. 349-356. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

    2020 John Haldon, Arlen F. Chase, Warren Eastwood, Martin Medina-Elizalde, Adam Izdebski, Francis Ludlow, Guy Middleton, Lee Mordechai, Jason Nesbitt, and B.L. Turner II, “Demystifying Collapse: Climate, Environment, and Social Agency in Pre-Modern Societies.” Millennium: Yearbook on the Culture and History of the First Millennium C.E. 17(1): 1-33.

    2020 Diane Z. Chase and Arlen F. Chase, “The Ancient Maya Economic Landscape of Caracol, Belize,” in M. Masson, D. Freidel, and A. Demarest, Eds., The Real Business of Ancient Maya Economies: From Farmers’ Fields to Rulers’ Realms, pp. 132-148. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

    2020 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, “The Materialization of Classic Period Maya Warfare: Caracol Stranger-Kings at Tikal,” in T.W. Stanton and M.K. Brown, Eds., A Forest of History: The Maya After the Emergence of Divine Kingship, pp. 20-48. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

    2020 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, “The Edge of the Maya World: Late Classic Period Ceramics from Burials and Caches at Santa Rita Corozal, Belize.” Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 17: 33-44.

    2020 Jaime J. Awe, Jorge Can, Arlen F. Chase, and Diane Z. Chase, “Archaeological Investigations and Conservation at Santa Rita Corozal: The 2012-2013 Belize Institute of Archaeology Project.” Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 17: 153-165.

    2020 Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, John M. Morris, Jaime J. Awe, and Adrian S.Z. Chase, “Archaeology and Heritage Management in the Maya Area: History and Practice at Caracol, Belize.” Heritage 3(2): 436-456.

    2020 Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, and Adrian S.Z. Chase, “The Maya City of Caracol, Belize: The Integration of an Anthropogenic Landscape,” In S. Hutson and T. Ardren, Eds., The Maya World, pp. 344-363, Routledge Press, London.

    2020 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, “Final Moments: Contextualizing On-Floor Archaeological Materials from Caracol, Belize.” Ancient Mesoamerica 31(1): 77-87.

    2020 Adrian S.Z. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, and Arlen F. Chase, “Ethics, New Colonialism, and Lidar Data: A Decade of Lidar in Maya Archaeology.” Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology, 3(1), pp. 51-62. DOI:https://doi.org/10.5334/jcaa.43

    2020 Arlen F. Chase, “Contextualizing the Archaeology of Pacbitun, Belize: An Epilogue,” In T.G. Powis, S. Skaggs, and G.J. Micheletti, Eds. An Archaeological Reconstruction of Ancient Maya Life at Pacbitun, Belize, pp. 201-204BAR International Series 2970. British Archaeological Reports (Archaeology of the Maya), Oxford, England.

    2020 Diane Z. Chase, Arlen F. Chase, and Adrian S.Z. Chase, “Caracol’s Impact on the Landscape of the Classic Period Maya: Urbanism and Complex Interaction in a Tropical Environment,” In B.A. Houk, B. Arroyo, and T.G. Powis, Eds., Approaches to Monumental Landscapes of the Ancient Maya, pp. 109-130. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

    2020 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, “Monumental Landscapes of the Maya: Cogitating on a Past Built Environment,” In B.A. Houk, B. Arroyo, and T.G. Powis, Eds., Approaches to Monumental Landscapes of the Ancient Maya, pp. 335-348. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

    2019 Christophe Helmke, Arlen F. Chase, and Diane Z. Chase, “Another Look at Stela 2 of Caracol, Belize.” Mexicon 41(4): 97-104.

    2019 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, “Central Belize and the Development of Maya Archaeology: A Critical Assessment,” Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 16: 3-19.

    2019 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, “El Origin del Mundo Maya: Las Raices​ Preclasicas.” Desperta Ferro - Arqueologia e Historia 23: 12-17.

    2019 Scott Heckbert, Christian Isendahl, Joel D.Gunn, Simon Brewer, Vernon L. Scarborough, Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, Robert Costanza, Nicholas P. Dunning, Temothy Beach, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, David L. Lentz, and Paul Sinclair, “Growing the Ancient Maya Social-Ecological System from the Bottom Up,” in C. Isendahl and D. Stump, Eds., Handbook of Historical Ecology and Applied Archaeology, pp. 302-322. Oxford University Press, Oxford  (on line April 2016; DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199672691.013.30).

    2018 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, Sampling and Timeframes: Contextualizing the Protoclassic and Early Classic Periods at Caracol, Belize,” Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 15: 3-15.

    2018 Adrian S.Z. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, and Arlen F. Chase, “Situating Preclassic Interments and Fire-Pits at Santa Rita Corozal, Belize,” Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 15: 159-167.

    2018 Max Seidita, Diane Z. Chase, and Arlen F. Chase, “Chetumal’s Dragonglass: Postclassic​ Obsidian Production and Exchange in Santa Rita Corozal, Belize,” Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 15: 169-178.

    2018 John Haldon, Lee Mordechai, Timothy P. Newfield, Arlen F. Chase, Adam Izdebski, Piotr Guzowski, Inga Labuhn, and Neil Roberts, “History Meets Palaeoscience. Consilience and Collaboration in Studying Past Societal Responses to Environmental Change,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115(13): 3210-3218 (www.pnas.cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1716912115).

    2017 Arlen F. Chase, Anne Dowd, and David A. Freidel, “The Distribution and Significance of E Groups: An Historical Background,” in D. Freidel et al., Eds., Maya E Groups: Calendars, Astronomy, and Urbanism in the Early Lowlands, pp. 3-30. University of Florida Press, Gainesville.

    2017 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase. “E Groups and the Rise of Complexity in the Southeastern Maya Lowlands,” in D. Freidel et al., Eds., Maya E Groups: Calendars, Astronomy, and Urbanism in the Early Lowlands, pp. 31-71. University of Florida Press, Gainesville.

    2017 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, “Ancient Maya Architecture and Spatial Layouts: Contextualizing Caana at Caracol, Belize,” Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 14: 13-22.

    2017 Diane Z. Chase and Arlen F. Chase, “Caracol, Belize and Changing Perceptions of Ancient Maya Society.” Journal of Archaeological Research 25(3): 185-249. (DOI​ 10.1007/s10814-016-9101-z)

    2017 Adrian S.Z. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, and Arlen F. Chase, “LiDAR for Archaeological Research and the Study of Historical Landscapes,” in Nicola Masini and Francesco Soldovieri, Eds., Sensing the Past: From Artifact to Historical Site, pp. 89-100, Springer, New York.

    2017 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, “Detection of Maya Ruins by LiDAR: Applications, Case Studies, and Issues,” in Nicola Masini and Francesco Soldovieri, Eds., Sensing the Past: From Artifact to Historical Site, pp. 455-468, Springer, New York.

    2017 Gunn, Joel D., Vernon L. Scarborough, William J. Folan, Christian Isendahl, Arlen F. Chase, Jeremy A. Sabloff, and Beniamino Volta, “A Distribution Analysis of the Central Maya Lowlands Ecoinformation Network: It’s Rises, Falls, and Changes,” Ecology and Society 22(1):20. doi.org/10.5751/ES-08931-220120

    2016 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, “Urbanism and Anthropogenic Landscapes,” Annual Review of Anthropology 45: 361-376 (online July 29, 2016; DOI: 10.1146/annurev-anthro-102215-095852).

    2016 Arlen F. Chase, Kathryn Reese-Taylor, Juan Carlos Fernandez, and Diane Z. Chase, “Progression and Issues in the Mesoamerican Geospatial Revolution: An Introduction,” Advances in Archaeological Practice 4(3): 219-231 (also served as Guest Editor for issue with Kathryn Reese-Taylor).

    2016 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, “The Ancient Maya City: Anthropogenic Landscapes, Settlement Archaeology, and Caracol, Belize,” Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 13: 3-14.

    Recent Documentaries and TV

    in progress The End of the Maya World. Nova, Arte (Zoot Pictures, Inc., Winnipeg, Canada)

    2018 Giant Brain, Mayan Pyramid, and Beauty Queen Cakes. Food Network, “Vegas Cakes” (Season 2, Episode 12).

    2018 Maya Armageddon: The New Evidence. BBC Discovery, “What on Earth” (Season 4, Episode 20)

    2017 Adventure: Caribbean. German and French PBS, “Terra X.”

  • Education

    Education

    Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA.

    B.A. in Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA.

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Archaeological Theory
    • Mesoamerican Archaeology
    • Archaeology of Complex Societies and Archaic States
    • Archaeological Laboratory Methods
    • Maya Excavation and Fieldwork
    • Problems in Maya Archaeology
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012-present)
    • Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society (2007–present)
    • Presenters Excellence Award: 15 Years, Belize Archaeology Symposium, Belize Institute of Archaeology (2017)
    • Pegasus Professor, the University of Central Florida’s highest faculty honor for continued excellence in research, teaching, and service (2007-2016)
    • Distinguished Lecturer for Sigma Xi (2013-2015)
    • Grand Marshal, Key West Fantasy Fest (2012)
    • Member, Board of Governors, State University System of Florida (2006-2008)
    • Member, Board of Trustees, University of Central Florida (2003-2005)
    • University of Central Florida Research Incentive Award for excellence in research (2010, 2002)
    • University of Central Florida Teaching Incentive Program Award for excellence in teaching (2002, 1995)
    • Samuel Kahn Distinguished Alumnus Award, Robert Louis Steven School, Pebble Beach, CA (1991)
    • Series Editor (with D.Z. Chase) for Maya Studies, University Press of Florida, Gainesville (2000-present; 20 vols. through Aug. 2020).
    • Editorial Boards, Ancient Mesoamerica (Cambridge, 2001-present); British Archaeological Reports (Archaeology of the Maya (Oxford, 2018-present); Heritage (MDPI, 2017-present); Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology (IOA, 2013-present); Princeton Studies in Climate, Environment, and History (Princeton, 2019-present); Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute (1993-2005); Mayab (correspondent, 1988-1992); Ceramica de Cultura Maya (Advisor, 1984-1996)