Diane Zaino Chase

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Diane Zaino Chase (born 1953) is an American anthropologist and archaeologist who specializes in the study of the Ancient Maya. Her husband Dr. Arlen F. Chase, is also an archaeologist whose work is focused on the ancient Maya. Their eldest child, Adrian, is pursuing a career in Mesoamerican archaeology as well. They have two other children: Aubrey and Elyse Chase. All three children have accompanied their parents to the archaeological site of Caracol in Belize, where they have been conducting excavations for over twenty years.[1]


Chase attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with a BA in Anthropology in 1975. She completed her PhD. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1982 with a dissertation on "Spatial and Temporal Variability in Postclassica Northern Belize".

Chase taught anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, West Chester University, and at the University of Central Florida where she has taught for over 26 years.

In 2000, she was appointed the Interdisciplinary Coordinator of Academic Affairs.

In 2003, she was awarded the honor of Pegasus Professor.

She has continued to take on administrative positions. She has served as Interim Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs, the Interim Chair for the Department of Theatre in the College of Arts and Humanities, Associate Vice President of Planning and Evaluation for Academic Affairs, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, and the Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.

In 2010, Chase was appointed Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs of the University of Central Florida. In April 2014, she was appointed Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the same institution. [1]

Archaeological career[edit]

Chase has been conducting Archaeological excavations since the 1970s, with a focus on the Ancient Maya. From 1979 - 1985 she conducted archaeological excavations, with her husband at (Santa Rita Corozal. In an interview in 2013 with Phyllis Messenger, Chase spoke about her career as an archaeologist.[2]

Since 1985, Chase and her husband have been the directors of the Caracol Archaeological Project in Belize. Their fieldwork conducted at Caracol over the past 30 years has resulted in significant contributions to the ongoing research into the Ancient Maya. Dr. Diane Chase has identified and excavated several burials, and is an expert in mortuary analysis. Significant finds at Caracol include the 1986 field season discovery of Altar 21, which recorded the defeat of Tikal by Caracol. The same year Altar 21 was discovered, two intact tombs were uncovered along with an intact tomb of a royal woman that was dated at 634 CE. Another royal tomb was discovered in 1993 that was dated to 537 CE.

In 2008 Chase and her husband, along with biologist John Weishampel, received a grant from NASA to conduct a canopy penetrating radar called LiDAR. LiDAR uses remote sensing to see through the canopy and penetrate the ground to detect the archaeological ruins beneath the canopy.[3]

Chase has authored and co-authored many literary publications on Mesoamerican archaeology. Her knowledge in the field of Mayan archaeology has led to television programs to feature her in documentaries featuring Mayan history and archaeology. Drs. Diane and Arlen Chase's archaeological fieldwork at Caracol included the stabilization of the structure Caana. It is the largest man-made structure in Belize. This led to the Belize government to declare Caracol a National Park, and to pave a road into Caracol to allow for easier access for tourists. The site currently has nearly 20 visitors daily, with increased visitation in the spring.[4]

In a 2013 talk at the University of Minnesota, Diane and Arlen Chase talked about their most recent work at Caracol, including unexpected findings (such as cremated bodies and burned mirrors). They also showed the ways in which LIDAR has been critical in mapping the area, and showing the extent of the Caracol urban area.[5]

Honors and awards[1][edit]

  • 2009 Elected as Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 2006 Research Incentive Award
  • 2004 Inducted into Phi Kappa Phi honor society
  • 2003 Awarded the status of Pegasus Professor, which is given to professors who have demonstrated distinction in research, teaching and service.This is the highest tribute that a faculty member may receive at the University of Central Florida.
  • 2001 Research Incentive Award
  • 1999-2001 Distinguished Lecturer for Sigma Xi
  • 1998 Teaching Incentive Award
  • 1998 Web Site Excellent Award- Anthropology: for www.caracol.org
  • 1995–present Trevor Colburn Endowment (Co-Beneficiary with A. Chase)
  • 1994 Teaching Incentive Award
  • 1987 Elected to Quill- the literary society of the University of Central Florida


  1. ^ a b c http://anthropology.cos.ucf.edu/content/people/viewPerson.html&id=48&group=Faculty
  2. ^ http://ias.umn.edu/2013/07/20/the-archaeologists-life/
  3. ^ Chase, A. F., Chase, D. Z., Weishampel, J. F., Drake, J. B., Shrestha, R. L., Slatton, K., & ... Carter, W. E. (2011). Airborne LiDAR, archaeology, and the ancient Maya landscape at Caracol, Belize. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(2), 387-398.
  4. ^ http://www.caracol.org/index.php
  5. ^ http://ias.umn.edu/2013/07/19/maya-smm-chase/
  • Sharer, Robert J. and Loa P. Traxler. “The Ancient Maya” ( Stanford University Press, 2006 ), p 364
  • Martin, Simon and Nikolai Grube. “Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens” (Thames and Hudson, 2008) p. 8
  • Peabody
  • 2001 Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase, "Caracol", in W. Fash, Ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures, Vol. 1, pp. 143–145, Oxford University Press.
  • 1993 John Nobel Wilford, "Mayans had a Middle Class, Too, Emerging Burial Artifacts Indicate", New York Times, Jan 5. 1993.
  • 1989 Epstein, Nadine, "From a Remote Jungle Site, a Trail of Striking Clues.", The Smithsonian, Vol 20(9): pp 99–113.

External links[edit]