Gabriel Wrobel

  • Associate Professor, Anthropology
  • Director, Central Belize Archaeological Survey (CBAS) Project


E-32 McDonel Hall and 408 Giltner Hall (lab)

Curriculum vitae

Research Interests

  • Bioarchaeology
  • Maya
  • Caves

Biographical Info

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 (  Located in the Caves Branch and Roaring Creek river valleys in west-central Belize, this project focuses 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., Christophe Helmke, Sherry Gibbs, George J. Micheletti, Norbert Stanchly, & Terry Powis (in press, 2019) Two Trophy Skulls from Pacbitun, Belize. Latin American Antiquity 30(1).

Wrobel, Gabriel D., Jack Biggs, & Amy Hair (2019) Digital Modeling for Bioarchaeologists. Advances in Archaeological Practice7(1): 47-54.

Wrobel, Gabriel D., and Jack Biggs (2018) Osteophageous Insect Damage on Human Bone from Je’reftheel, a Maya Mortuary Cave Site in West-Central Belize. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology28(6): 745-756.

Wrobel, Gabriel D.(2018) Contexto y Significados De La Modificación Craneana En Belice Central: Interpretando Las Variaciones Entre Los Esqueletos Hallados En Cuevas Y Abrigos Rocosos. In Modificaciones Cefálicas Culturales en Mesoamérica. Una Perspectiva Continental, edited by Vera Tiesler and Carlos Serrano Sánchez, pp. 559-585. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Universidad Autonoma de Yucatán, México.

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.

Wrobel, Gabriel D., Amy Michael, Jack Biggs, Christophe Helmke, Shawn Morton, & Christopher Andres (2017) Project Gallery: Mortuary Landscapes of the Maya of Central Belize. Antiquity 91(358).

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., & 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 (2014), A Likely Case of Scurvy in a Rural Early Classic Maya Burial from Actun Uayazba Kab, Belize. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 155(3): 476-81.

Wrobel, Gabriel D., ed. (2014) The Bioarchaeology of Space and Place: Ideology, Power and Meaning in Maya Mortuary Contexts. New York: 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.