Claire Ebert

  • Assistant Professor

Claire Ebert is an environmental archaeologist interested in the complex dynamics between people and their local ecologies throughout the Holocene in Mesoamerica. Based on field work in western Belize, she examines the emergence of complexity among the earliest Maya agricultural communities, and the fluctuating environmental and climatic contexts in which they appeared. She is a co-director of the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance (BVAR) Project and offers graduate and undergraduate student research opportunities in the field in Belize and in the Tropical Paleoecology and Isotope Geochemistry Lab at Pitt. Her current projects based in the Maya region include exploring relationships between the environmental and subsistence practices of early Maya farmers, human-animal relationships in ancestral Maya communities, lidar remote sensing analyses and survey of Maya polities in western Belize, and pottery and obsidian geochemical sourcing analyses. Other projects include meta-analyses of human and animal isotopic data to address significant questions about the origins of agriculture, urbanism, and movement and migration in Mesoamerica, the Caribbean, and Central America.

Prospective Students

I will be accepting students at PhD level interested in applying environmental archaeology, human ecology, and/or stable isotope analysis to research questions within Mesoamerican archaeology. Students are also welcome to design studies related to current projects the Tropical Paleoecology and Isotope Geochemistry lab related to questions about environmental change, diet, and commensal relationships between people, plants, and/or other animals in the Maya region.



  • Mesoamerica Before Cortez (taught annually in spring)
  • Environmental Archaeology
  • Molecular Archaeology
  • Alcohol in the Ancient World
  • Unraveling the Anthropocene
  • Floods, Famine, and Flus: Archaeology of Disaster
  • The Art of Publication (graduate seminar)

Recent Publications

Ebert, Claire E. 2023. The Formative Period in Mesoamerica. In Encyclopedia of Archaeology, 2nd ed., edited by Thilo Rehren and Efthymia Nikita. Elsevier.

Awe, Jaime J., Claire E. Ebert, W. James Stemp, M. Kathryn Brown, Lauren A. Sullivan and James F. Garber. 2021. Lowland Maya Genesis: The Late Archaic to Late Early Formative Transition in the Belize River Valley. Ancient Mesoamerica 32:519-544.

Ebert, Claire E., James McGee, and Jaime J. Awe, 2021. Early Monumentality in the Belize River Valley: Excavations of a Preclassic E-Group at Cahal Pech, Belize. Latin American Antiquity 32:209-217.

Ebert, Claire E., Asta Rand, Kirsten Green-Mink, Julie A. Hoggarth, Carolyn Freiwald, Jaime J. Awe, Willa R. Trask, Jason Yaeger, M. Kathryn Brown, Christophe Helmke, Rafael Guerra, Marie Danforth and Douglas J. Kennett, 2021. Sulfur Isotopes as a Proxy for Human Diet and Mobility from the Preclassic through Colonial periods in the Eastern Maya Lowlands. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0254992.

Price, Michael H., José M. Capriles, Julie A. Hoggarth, Kyle Bocinsky, Claire E. Ebert and James Holland Jones, 2021. End-to-end Bayesian analysis for summarizing sets of radiocarbon dates. Journal of Archaeological Science 135:105473. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2021.105473.

Wrobel, Gabriel D., Raúl Alejandro López Pérez and Claire E. Ebert, 2021. Life and Death Among the Earliest Maya: A Review of Early and Middle Preclassic Burials from the Maya World. Ancient Mesoamerica 32:545-557.

Awe, Jaime J., Claire E. Ebert, Julie A. Hoggarth, James J. Aimers, John Douglas, Christophe Helmke and W. James Stemp. 2020. The last hurrah at Cahal Pech: Examining the nature of peri-abandonment deposits and activities in a Belize Valley center. Ancient Mesoamerica 31:175-187.

Ebert, Claire E. and Jaime J. Awe, 2020. Who were the Early Preclassic Maya?: Reassessing key questions about the origins of village life in the Belize River Valley. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 17:273-286.

Ebert, Claire E., Julie A. Hoggarth, Brendan J. Culleton, Jaime J. Awe and Douglas J. Kennett, 2019. The role of diet in resilience and vulnerability to climate change among early agricultural communities in the Maya Lowlands. Current Anthropology 60(4):589-601.

Ebert, Claire E., Daniel Pierce and Jaime J. Awe, 2019. Preclassic ceramic economy in Belize: neutron activation analyses at Cahal Pech. Antiquity 93:1266-1283.

Ebert, Claire E., Nancy Peniche May, Brendan J. Culleton, Jaime J. Awe and Douglas J. Kennett, 2017. Regional response to drought during the formation and decline of Preclassic Maya societies. Quaternary Science Reviews 173:211-235.

You can find a full list of publication and links to the papers here.