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Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, left,
and Dr. Juan Antonio Valdés.


Rene Ugarte


Leonel Hernandez


Federico Paredes Umaña


Juan Pablo Herrera Sanchez

Partnerships and

About Chocolá Archaeological Project/
Proyecto Arqueológico Chocolá (PACH)

The Chocolá Archaeological Project is a non-profit organization focused on archaeological research at the major, hitherto overlooked, and very long-lived Maya complex located beneath and around the modern village of Chocolá, Guatemala. Project personnel include:

Jonathan Kaplan, Ph.D., Yale, 1999, Director of PACH
Jonathan embarked on his second career as a Maya archaeologist after 10 years in the documentary film world. Following his dream, he gained admission to Yale’s Department of Anthropology and became a student of the person who, in his view, has been the premier Mesoamericanist for several generations, Michael Coe. In fact, he was Coe’s last doctoral student. His other mentor at Yale has been Mary Miller, one of the greatest Maya art historians and co-author, with Linda Schele, of The Blood of Kings, a magnificent and defining work about Classic Maya kingship and ritual.

Since beginning his graduate studies and choosing to focus on the Southern Maya area in the Preclassic period (1800 BC-AD 200), he has been deeply immersed in the important research issues relating to this seminal time and place, and, before directing PACH, worked for years at the great site of K’aminaljuyu. He returns almost every year to give a paper at the archaeological symposium in Guatemala City, the world’s principal venue for presenting Maya research results.

Kaplan has published papers on his research in several professional journals, including Ancient Mesoamerica, Journal of Field Archaeology, Mexicon, and Latin American Antiquity. Currently he is working on a book about Kaminaljuyu and is co-editing a volume for the University Press of Colorado. He was co-organizer of a professional symposium at the 2002 American Anthropological Association, “The Southern Maya in the Late Preclassic: Urbanism, Rulership, and Ethnic Interaction,” at which the leading Southern Maya researchers presented papers, co-organized a session of papers at the 2004 Society for American Archaeology meetings, and chaired a session of papers at the 2004 American Anthropology meetings. He has given invited papers at the University of Pennsylvania Maya Weekend, the California Academy of Sciences, and other special venues. He was awarded a Young Scientist Award from Earthwatch Institute in 2004.

Juan Antonio Valdés, Ph.D., University of Paris 1983, Co-Director, 2004
Juan Antonio is the premier Guatemalan archaeologist. He has directed research and restoration projects over the past 20 years at several of the greatest ancient Maya cities, including Tikal, Uaxactun, Kaminaljuyu, Dos Pilas, and Aguateca, and is regarded internationally as one of the most distinguished scholars of the ancient Maya. From 1996-1998 he was Director General of the Patrimonio Cultural y Natural de Guatemala and Director of the Instituto de Antropología e Historia de Guatemala, Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, the Guatemalan government office responsible for approving and overseeing all archaeological research in Guatemala.

Valdés has taught archaeology at the University of San Carlos for many years and has directed their very active and successful graduate program in archaeology. He is the author of six scholarly books and has published more than 75 articles in professional journals. He serves as advisor on numerous international councils and symposia dealing with cultural and archaeological heritage issues. Most recently, he served as technical advisor to a major project working toward sustainable enterprises in the Petén, Guatemala for the Interamerican Development Bank. Juan Antonio is the overall advisor and liaison in Guatemala, helping with strategic planning, research design, logistics, personnel, and as a link to Guatemala’s cultural officialdom.

Rene Ugarte, licenciatura in archaeology,
Universidad de San Carlos, Co-Director, 2005

Rene joined the project in 2005 when Juan Antonio retired from field participation in PACH. He has worked on many projects in the Southern area, and brings substantial experience as excavator and with the study of lithics.

Leonel Hernandez, licenciatura in archaeology,
Universidad de San Carlos, 2005, Co-Director, 2006

Leonel has joined the project for 2006 as co-director. He brings significant art historical knowledge to the project, as wel as formal San Carlos University archaeological training.

Federico Paredes Umaña, licenciatura in archaeology,
Universidad de San Carlos, 2005, Assistant Director

Federico received a Fulbright Scholarship in 2005 to attend university in the United States. Multitalented, he has excavated, drawn monuments and other artifacts, and supervised construction of the field lab for the project.

Juan Pablo Herrera Sanchez, licenciatura candidate,
Universidad de San Carlos, Assistant Director

Juan Pablo directs the mapping subproject. Also multitalented, he supervises the workers, manages the daily accounts, excavates and draws for the project.


• Prof. Robert J. Sharer
• Prof. Juan Antonio Valdés


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