John Walden

  • PhD Granted in 2021

John Walden is an archaeologist interested in reconstructing ancient political dynamics. His dissertation focuses on examining the agency and political strategies of local village leaders as they transformed into intermediate elites (between commoners and the ruling apical regime), with the rise of the Late Classic (AD 600-900) Maya polity of Lower Dover, Belize. This theme is approached through a comparative focus on three neighborhoods, Tutu Uitz Na, Floral Park and Texas (Barton Ramie). Data is drawn from the intermediate elite centers and a sample of commoner households from each neighborhood. The research focuses on three dimensions of human experience, (1) wealth, wellbeing and status inequalities, (2) economic production and redistribution, (3) and ritual and ceremony. Identification of the ways in which the different neighborhoods and their intermediate elite centers changed following the rise of the polity provides a novel approach to understanding political centralization which is grounded in everyday praxis and relationships between actors on multiple levels of the political hierarchy. His research combines an array of methods including settlement survey, household excavations, excavations of monumental architecture, cave excavations, bioarchaeology, ceramic, lithic and faunal analysis, provenience analysis (p-XRF), dietary and mobility isotopes, archaeo-botany, GIS, epigraphy, radiocarbon (Bayesian modeling), archaeo-astronomy and geo-physics.

Walden has been involved in archaeological fieldwork for over 20 years, having worked in Belize, the UK, Turkey and Peru. He is currently site supervisor at the Maya center of Lower Dover, Belize as part of the Belize Valley Archaeology Reconnaissance (BVAR) project field school. He has mentored and produced research with a number of students, and has taught Introduction to Archaeology and Fantastic Archaeology (pseudo-archaeology, political importance of the past, archaeological theory) as course instructor.


2020  Walden, John P., Tia B. Watkins, Kyle Shaw-Müller, Claire E. Ebert, Emma Messinger, Rafael A. Guerra, and Jaime J. Awe. "Multiscalar Approaches to Reconstructing Classic Maya Strategies of Ceremonial Inclusion and Exclusion through the Accessibility of Architecture at Lower Dover, Belize". In El paisaje urbano maya: del preclásico al virreinato, edited by Juan Garcia Targa. British Archaeological Reports, Oxford. In Press.

2019  Walden, John P., Claire E. Ebert, Julie A. Hoggarth, Shane Montgomery and Jaime J. Awe. "Modeling Variability in Classic Maya Intermediate Elite Political Strategies through Multivariate Analysis of Settlement Patterns". Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. 55:101074.

2017  Walden, John P. and Barbara Voorhies. "Ancient Maya Patolli. In Prehistoric Games of North American Indians: Subarctic to Mesoamerica", edited by Barbara Voorhies, pp.197-218. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

2017  Walden, John P. "Comparative Perspectives on the Cultural Perception and Mediation of Risk and the Collapse of Complex Societies". In Rethinking Comparison in Archaeology, edited by Ana Vale, Joana Alves-Ferreira and Irene Garcia Rovira, pp.157-178. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Degrees and Education

MA - Archaeology – University of Manchester (2011)
BA – Ancient History and Archaeology – University of Manchester (2008)


Rust Family Foundation Archaeology Grant (2020)
National Science Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant (2019)