Archaeologist / Metalsmith PO Box 3241 Evergreen, CO 80437-3241 Phone: 303 674-2104 E-mail: email@example.com
GUIDE TO MY VERY LONG WEBPAGE
Introduction: Recent Archaeology Projects First Half: My metalwork -About my metalwork -Pieces Available (please buy!) -Archives (past metalwork) Second Half: Archaeology and Indian Church Village (Lamanai), Belize -Lamanai Maya Site and beyond -Belize educational Scholarship Program -Indian Church Village Artisans -Indian Church Village Library About the photos -Click on any photo to enlarge and read a description.
Lamanai Vessel Series: "The Social-Political Implications of Primary Access"; Copper, resin; 18" diameter
Karen inside a Maya structure at Ka'Kabish
Maya Archaeology, my personal passion. The past couple of summers in Belize I have been working with Dr. Elizabeth Graham and Dr. David Pendergast to rehouse and curate artifacts from previous excavations at Lamanai. In 2017 and 2018 I also participated in excavations at the site of Pacbitun with Dr. Terry Powis and Dr. Sheldon Skaggs. Although very preliminary, it's exciting to see how a "palace" group at Pacbitun compares with one at Lamanai--the Ottawa Group, which is the subject of my MA thesis.
Historic Archaeology and Architecture, a new passion. I worked as a seasonal archaeologist for the US Forest Service in the summer of 2017 and winter of 2018, doing research and report writing, and as an offshoot of this work I was hired by Park County to prepare nominations to the National Register of Historic Places and the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties for two historic houses, and their asssociated outbuildings, located on the AG Ranch in Shawnee, Colorado. The nomination for the ca. 1890-1913 two-story pioneer log house was approved by the state review board and was listed as a Colorado historic property in January 2019. This nomination includes architectural descriptions of the buildings and a history of the property and owners, which includes an infamous murder in 1896. The review of the ca.1941 ranch house nomination is scheduled for May 17, 2019.
Click here to watch a 14.5 minute digital video on my investigations of the architectural building sequence of Structure N10-15 in the Ottawa N10 elite-residential-administrative "palace" complex at Lamanai.
ABOUT MY RESEARCH: I have an MA in Anthropology (archaeology focus) from University of Colorado/Denver. Earlier, while pursuing an MFA (1993) at Arizona State University, I was inspired by studies of Precolumbian Mesoamerica and South America in art history courses. Previous careers in the fields of architecture and art led me to attend a Maya architecture field school at Lamanai in 1998 and I have been involved in Belize archaeology and community development projects ever since. With the help of other archaeologists and artists, I directed the Indian Church Artisans training program enabling local villagers to learn craft and business skills and to market their craft locally. Past archaeology projects include the Maya Archaeometallurgy Project at Lamanai, the Lamanai Archaeology Project, the Marco Gonzalez Archaeology Project, CBAS (Tipan Chen Uitz), Ka'Kabish, and the Belize Tourism Development Project which included making reproductions of stelae and altars at Lamanai and Caracol. My current research interests are focused on Maya architecture and the built environment, particularly the building programs and architectural modifications carried out at elite residences and city-centers during the Classic-to-Postclassic transition and understanding the socio-political transformations that these changes reflect.
Belize Educational Scholarship Program: I have coordinated an educational scholarship program in Belize for the past 16 years, which provides financial support to help families send their children from remote rural villages to high school. You can get a tax-deduction for your donation and help a child get an education too! For additional scholarship information click here!
We established libraries in the village of Indian Church and nearby San Carlos which augment the educational program and provide reading material for literate adults in the villages too. Laura Howard initiated the library project and has coordinated it for many years now. More information can be found on her website: http://www.beyondtouring.com/Giveback/Library.htm
Karen recording info on pottery sherds from 2015 excavations
Karen climbing the High Temple at Lamanai
Karen and Sonia Arevalo, the village librarian and scholarship coordinator
Karen and Sandro excavate and draw a profile at Ka'Kabish...looking for the elusive building face
Karen (left) and archaeologists doing labwork at the Lamanai lab
Rain, rain, rain...lagoon rising at the Lamanai lab
ABOUT MY METALWORK…
I make all of my pieces by myself, by hand, using sheets of metal, hammers, steel forming stakes, a jeweler’s saw, a torch, files, sanding/polishing equipment, and a variety of other tools.To finish the pieces I use various patina techniques and I often apply gold-leaf or use silver or gold electroplating for contrast with the dark-patinated copper surfaces.
My metalwork is focused on vessels, which are generally semi-functional decorative vessels that reflect my architecturally influenced appreciation for clean lines and spare design.Some vessels have been influenced by my appreciation of our natural environment in combination with my interest in the custom of ritual offerings and ancient offering vessels, as well as my involvement with archaeology at the Maya site of Lamanai in Belize.
PHOTOS OF PEOPLE FROM INDIAN CHURCH VILLAGE AND SOME GREAT ARCHAEOLOGY SITES:
A DAY IN MY LIFE....
MY COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE PROJECTS IN BELIZE
The photos and text below provide glimpses of some of my friends in Indian Church Village and the artisan training & educational scholarship projects I have been involved with there during the past 10 years.
I first visited Indian Church Village and Lamanai with my husband in January 1998.There we met archaeologist Laura Howard, who was then working at Lamanai Outpost Lodge.Having an art and design background (my first career was commercial interior design/ architecture) and an interest in Maya culture, I mentioned to Laura my desire to attend an archaeology field school.A few months later I was back in Belize as a field school student at Lamanai studying Maya architecture.Here I met many other archaeologists, including Scott Simmons, who was there to set up a project to investigate Maya copper production at the Lamanai site.I have been a metalsmith working in copper since 1990, and I was fascinated by Scott’s project, so I volunteered to help him with his research the following summer.In the meantime, I went back to graduate school full time as a student of anthropology/archaeology.I first started to get to know people in the adjacent village of Indian Church while assisting Scott in his research in 1999.We worked in the field daily for 6 weeks and had some men from the village helping us cut trails in the bush.I got to know these men and many others from the village as well.They earned a very small amount of money for their hard labor and I was shocked by this.It was the standard pay-rate for this type of work in Belize, but it seemed unjust to me. The people of Indian Church Village had so little and I wanted to do something to help them. I was lucky to have the opportunity to do just this when in 2000, Dr. Elizabeth Graham, the director of the Lamanai site, was awarded a grant from Canada Funds for Local Initiatives. These funds allowed us to set up some training programs for the local villagers to train them in pottery reconstruction and other things at the Lamanai site. That year I helped train them in moldmaking and other craft skills.
I have been working with the people from Indian Church Village ever since. Karen Pierce
Click on photos below for an enlarged image.
THE MAYA SITE OF LAMANAI, BELIZE
The Maya site of Lamanai was formerly called "Indian Church", named after the ruins of two 16th Century Conquest-period Spanish churches built on the site. When documents were found in Seville, Spain referring to the Maya name for this city as Laman' ayin, the site name was changed to Lamanai. Lamanai is located approximately 30 miles inland from Belize's east coast on the Caribbean Sea and the Maya would travel between the sea and Lamanai via boat on the New River (known as the Dzuluinicob in prehistoric times) which meets the sea near the modern day town of Corozal (about 80 miles).People lived in the city of Lamanai for over 3000 years—from around 1500BC to AD1500!
I became involved with archaeology at Lamanai in 1998, when I attended my first archaeology field school, and I've gone there every year since, although I have been involved with other archaeology projects in Belize too. The three main projects I have worked on at Lamanai were the architectural recording and excavation of the structures of an elite residential complex called "Ottawa"; the investigation of the production of copper artifacts at Lamanai and the search for a "metal production workshop"; and the reproduction of jade artifacts and of large limestone monuments, called stela and altars. THE ARTISANS TRAINING PROJECT
The Indian Church Village Craft Training Project, an artisans training project for the village directed by Karen Pierce, was started in the summer of 2000 by a group of artists, architects, and archaeologists working at Lamanai. This was an outgrowth of the CFLI grant (mentioned above) that was awarded to Dr. Elizabeth Graham. The CFLI grant and numerous private donations helped the training project gain momentum. With numerous local villagers enthusiastically embracing the project, Dr. Elizabeth Graham then applied for funds from the British High Commission in Belize to construct an artisans center building for the artisans. This was supported by the British High Commission and the Government of Belize, and the labor of the local villagers and others enabled the construction of a 1600sf artisans center/hurricane shelter. Following the opening of this building in early 2003, the project has carried on largely through the help of volunteers and donations, plus several other small grants. Over 20 artists from the USA, Canada and England have gone to Indian Church Village to teach!We have been teaching crafts and helping the people of Indian Church Village set up their own local craft workshop/cottage industry to produce quality crafts to provide an economic base for many of the economically disadvantaged people who live in this village.There are now studios set up for jewelry-making, needleworking, stonecarving and ceramics.The artisans' designs reference Maya art and designs of local flora and fauna.The ICVA have their own gift shop at the Lamanai site and they are marketing their crafts elsewhere in Belize.Volunteers and donations are always welcomed.
THE HIGH SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
I coordinate a scholarship program, which officially started with the 2003/04 school year, to help children from the village attend high school.Free public school in Belize only goes through primary school (Standard 6 British system--about equal to USA grade 6).If one chooses to continue their education beyond this, they must pay to attend a 4-year high school program at a cost of approximately $2,000.00US per year for school fees, books, uniforms, transportation and room & board (they must live away from home, as there are no high schools near the village).Most of these children's families can not afford to pay tuition, let alone the additional expenses involved with their child's education. The high-school scholarship program was started after we got to know many of the village children and learned of their desire to attend high school and learned of the prohibitive costs associated with their continuing education.
THE INDIAN CHURCH VILLAGE LIBRARY
The idea of establishing a library for the village began when we were designing the Artisans Center, funded by the British High Commission through a grant awarded to Dr. Elizabeth Graham in 2001/2002. But it soon became clear that there would be be too many people and activities in the Artisans Center for it to house the library as well. Another space had to be found. Coordinated by Laura Howard, the libraryopened in March 2005 in an old school teacher's house in the village, with books donated from several different organizations. Cash donations have enabled the hiring of a librarian from the village and the Belize National Library provides additional assistance. In the summer of 2006 Laura raised funds and coordinated the construction of an addition to the library building and she continues to coordinate library programs and book donations.