- Associate Professor, Anthropology
- Director, Central Belize Archaeological Survey (CBAS) Project
E-32 McDonel Hall and 408 Giltner Hall (lab)
My primary research specialty is bioarchaeology, which concerns the analysis and interpretation of skeletal remains from archaeological contexts. I have conducted most of my research at Maya sites in Belize, where I am currently the director of the Central Belize Archaeological Survey project (http://anthropology.msu.edu/cbasproject/). Located in the Caves Branch and Roaring Creek river valleys in west-central Belize, this project focused on a variety of sites, including ritual rockshelters and caves, several large urban ceremonial centers, and surrounding settlement zones. The excavations and analyses conducted so far show that ancient Maya communities used the cave sites for various ceremonial and mortuary purposes over a span of approximately 2000 years. The changes over time in the rituals performed at the rural rockshelters and caves closely parallel sociopolitical transitions identified at the monumental centers we have investigated within our research area, as well as at other sites found throughout the rest of the Maya region. For this reason, the sites in central Belize are important in characterizing the effects of large-scale sociopolitical transformations on ancient Maya communities. The data derived from small rural agrarian contexts continue to provide a different perspective than that of the larger urban centers at which most archaeological investigations are focused.My recent work focuses on shape analysis of crania using 3D photogrammetric models. I am working on two projects, one focused on the ancient Maya and the other on the peopling of Papua New Guinea.
Wrobel, Gabriel D., and Jack Biggs (early view) Osteophageous Insect Damage on Human Bone from Je’reftheel, a Maya Mortuary Cave Site in West-Central Belize. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.
Michael, Amy R., Gabriel D. Wrobel, & Jack Biggs (2018) Understanding Late Classic Maya Mortuary Ritual in Caves: Dental Evidence of Health from Macro- and Microscopic Defects and Caries. In Bioarchaeology of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica: An Interdisciplinary Approach, edited by Cathy Willermet & Andrea Cucina, pp. 133-158. University of Florida Press, Gainesville.
Wrobel, Gabriel D., Carolyn Freiwald, Amy Michael, Christophe Helmke, Jaime J. Awe, Douglas J. Kennett, Sherry Gibbs, Josalyn M. Ferguson, & Cameron Griffith (2017) Social Identity and Geographic Origin of Maya Burials at Actun Uayazba Kab, Roaring Creek Valley, Belize. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 45: 98-114.
Andres, Christopher, Christophe Helmke, Shawn Morton, & Gabriel D. Wrobel (2017) Two Classsic Maya Ballplayer Panels from Tipan Chen Uitz, Belize. Antiquity 91(359): 1285-1298.
Wrobel, Gabriel D., Shawn Morton, Amy R. Michael, Jack Biggs, & Christopher Andres (2017) The Current State of Research on Ancient Maya Rockshelter Use in Central Belize. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 14: 311-320.
Wrobel, Gabriel D. (in press) Context and Meaning of Cranial Modification in Central Belize: Interpreting Variations Among Skeletons from Caves and Rockshelters. To appear in Modificaciones Cefálicas Culturales en Mesoamérica. Una Perspectiva Continental, edited by Vera Tiesler and Carlos Serrano. Published by Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Universidad Autonoma de Yucatán.
Helmke, Christophe, Christopher R. Andres, Shawn G. Morton, & Gabriel D. Wrobel (2015) For Love of the Game: The Ballplayer Panels of Tipan Chen Uitz in Light of Late Classic Athletic Hegemony. The PARI Journal: A Quarterly Publication of the Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute 16(2): 1-30.
Wrobel, Gabriel D., & Elizabeth Graham (2015) The Buk Phase Burials of Belize: Testing Genetic Relatedness among Early Postclassic Groups in Northern Belize using Dental Morphology. In Archaeology and Bioarchaeology of Population Movement among the Prehispanic Maya, edited by Andrea Cucina, pp. 85-95. Cham: Springer Press.
Wrobel, Gabriel D., Christophe G. B. Helmke, & Carolyn Freiwald (2014) A Case Study of Funerary Cave Use from Je’reftheel, Central Belize. In The Bioarchaeology of Space and Place: Ideology, Power and Meaning in Maya Mortuary Contexts, edited by Gabriel D. Wrobel, pp. 77-106. New York: Springer Press.
Andres, Christopher, Christophe G. B. Helmke, Shawn G. Morton, Gabriel D. Wrobel, & Jason J. González (2014) Contextualizing the Glyphic Texts of Tipan Chen Uitz, Cayo District, Belize. Latin American Antiquity 25(1): 46-64.