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 Sibun River Valleys in 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.


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).

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.

Andres, Christopher, Christophe Helmke, Shawn Morton, & Gabriel D. Wrobel, (in press) Two Ballplayer Panels from Tipan Chen Uitz, Belize. Antiquity 91(359).

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.

Stemp, W. James, Gabriel D. Wrobel, Jessica Haley, & Jaime J. Awe (2015) Ancient Maya Stone Tools and Ritual Use of Deep Valley Rockshelter, Belize. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 77(1): 1-11.

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.

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.

Wrobel, Gabriel D., Rebecca Shelton, Shawn Morton, Joshua Lynch, & Christopher Andres (2013) The View of Maya Mortuary Cave Ritual from Overlook Rockshelter (OVR), Caves Branch River Valley, Central Belize. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 75(2): 126-135.

Stemp, W. James, Gabriel D. Wrobel, Jaime J. Awe, & Kelly M. Payeur (2013) Stir It Up, Little Darlin’: The Chipped Stone from Mixed Deposits from Caves Branch Rockshelter, Belize. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 37(1): 123-167.

Wrobel, Gabriel & Elizabeth Graham (2013) Los entierros de la fase Buk en Belice: comprobando las relaciones genéticas entre grupos del Postclásico Temprano en Belice a través de la morfología dental. In Afinidades Biológicas y Dinámicas Poblacionales entre los Antiguos Mayas, edited by Andrea Cucina, pp. 19-38. Una Visión Multidisciplinaria. Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán Press, Mérida.

Wrobel, Gabriel D., Christophe Helmke, Lenna Nash, & Jaime Awe (2012) Polydactyly and the Maya: A Review and an Example from the Site of Peligroso, Upper Macal Valley, Belize. Ancient Mesoamerica 23(1): 131-142.

Wrobel, Gabriel D., Christopher R. Andres, Shawn G. Morton, Rebecca Shelton, Amy Michael, & Christophe Helmke (2012) Ritual Landscapes of the Caves Branch River Valley. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 9: 233-244.

Wrobel, Gabriel D. (2012) Mortuary Evidence for Maya Political Resistance and Religious Syncretism in Colonial Belize. In The Bioarchaeology of Individuals, edited by Ann L. Stodder and Ann M. Palkovich, pp. 68-82. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.