I am an archaeologist and Assistant Professor.  I focus on the study of Mesoamerican complex societies with an emphasis on the ancient Maya.  My primary area of methodological study is ceramic analysis and how the ceramic artifacts inform scholarship related to prehistoric complex societies. I currently conduct archaeological research at the ancient Maya site of Holtun located in the Central Peten Lakes area of Guatemala.  With artifacts recovered from Holtun, I am using type-variety-mode classification, optical microscopy, petrographic analysis, pXRF analysis, INAA, and experimental ceramic production studies to inform scholarship about the relationship between ceramic material culture and the development of complex society during the Preclassic period.

Working with Dr. Callaghan:

Michael Callaghan
I believe advanced undergraduate and professional degrees in archaeology should:

  • Expose students to fundamental theoretical concepts in anthropology and archaeology
  • Teach students a transferable methodological specialization
  • Give students experience in first-hand data collection, analysis, and interpretation
  • Professionally prepare students for a career within, or related to, the archaeological sciences

To these ends I am seeking self-motivated students with a desire to conduct primary field and/or laboratory research related to the ancient Maya.  Students who choose to work with me will have the opportunity to perform research at my current research site in Holtun, Guatemala and/or in the laboratory here at UCF.  I hope to guide students in the creation of theoretically informed theses founded upon the analysis and interpretation of an original dataset of archaeological material.  As part of the Holtun Archaeological Project, students will have the opportunity to conduct archaeological research; write, present, and publish archaeological papers; and network with international colleagues and senior members of the Mesoamerican archaeological community.

Dr. Callaghan is looking for graduate students with an interest in:

  • Mesoamerican and Maya archaeology
  • Social complexity
  • Craft production
  • Ritual and feasting
  • Ancient technologies
  • Ceramic classification, analysis, and interpretation
  • Experimental ceramic production
  • Ceramic ethnoarchaeology

Examples of research projects conducted by Dr. Callaghan’s students:

  • Mapping and GIS analysis of Holtun, Guatemala
  • Experimental ceramic production using different temper types
  • Production and long-distance exchange at the site of Holtun, Guatemala
  • Paleo-climatological data and collapse in the eastern Maya area


Callaghan & Castillo
Holtun sherds
Crystalline in calcite
Kovacevich and personnel
Callaghan & Crawford
Callaghan elevation
Rodrigo shelter
Looters tunnel
Painted mask
Jaguar fang
2011 Project Pic