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December 2001InteractiveDig Belize
William looks over topographic maps.

Bruce makes his way through the jungle.

Cameron exploring a cave

Photos courtesy Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance.

Meet the Crew

The minimum number for a cave expedition is three people. Logic and knowledge of the safety concerns of cave exploration dictate this, and this is one of the primary regulations of the Western Belize Regional Cave Project.

The current team consists of three experienced cave explorers:

William Pleytez is a Belizean cave guide, avocational archaeologist, farmer, and one of the managers of Chechem Ha Adventure Resort. He has extensive knowledge of caving techniques and cave exploration, and his belief in caves as powerful locations is indisputable. In 1989, William and members of his family discovered Actun Chechem Ha on their property. Since then William and his family have been working in conjunction with the Belize Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of Tourism to develop Chechem Ha Cave into one of the country's premiere cave destinations.

Bruce I. Minkin, M.D., is a practicing hand surgeon from Asheville, North Carolina. He has been caving since he was 9 years old, and has been a member of the National Speleogical Society since 1960 (NSS 6809). When he was 16, the Mexican government of Campeche invited him to help excavate some Maya burial caves in the jungles of the Yucatán, starting him on a lifelong quest for adventure.

Bruce graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in physical anthropology, then attended medical school. Throughout his studies and practice, Bruce has continued his interest in the outdoors, and his passion for archaeology and caving led him to the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance project in 1998. Even though he is not a professional archaeologist, he was accepted as a crew member because of his experience with vertical caving and anthropology. The next year he returned with his son Erik, who did his senior project on Maya cave archaeology.

Cameron Griffith began working as the co-director of the Western Belize Regional Cave Project (WBRCP) in 1996. He has also worked on archaeological projects in Ohio, Louisiana, Arizona, California, and New Mexico. Cameron's research interests are varied, including bioanthropology, mortuary practices of the ancient Maya, ancient Maya cave use (regional and temporal differences), ancient Maya cave art and carving, and remote-sensing and geographic information systems. Cameron is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in anthropology at Indiana University, Bloomington.

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