photo: mckillopHeather McKillop

Thomas & Lillian Landrum Alumni Professor


Ph.D., University of California-Santa Barbara, 1987


I carry out archaeological field research on ancient Maya salt works flooded by sea-level rise and use 3D technology to preserve a record of the salt-waterlogged pottery and wood. The research has been funded by National Science Foundation grants since 2005. My current NSF is a collaborative, linked grant with LSU PhD grad E. Cory Sills, now an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Tyler, “Labor Relations in a Traditional Complex Society.” Current grad students on the project include Cher Foster, Hollie Lincoln, and Heidi Mayeaux. I started the DIVA Lab (Digital Imaging and Visualization in Archaeology) in 2010 with a LA Board of Regents grant. I have expanded 3D imaging and 3D printing, including exhibits featuring 3D printed replicas of artifacts from the Underwater Maya project funded by a Site Preservation Grant from the Archaeological Institute of America. We hosted the 4th International Congress on the Anthropology of Salt at LSU October 12-17, 2022. 

Book Publications

McKillop, Heather. 2019. Maya Salt Works. University Press of Florida, Gainesville. 

McKillop, Heather. 2006. The Ancient Maya. Norton Publishers, New York 

McKillop, Heather. 2005. In Search of Maya Sea Traders. College Station: Texas A & M University Press

McKillop, Heather. 2002. Salt, White Gold of the Ancient Maya. Gainesville: University Press of Florida

McKillop, H. 2002. Precolumbian Jade and Stone Carvings from Costa Rica. Catalog for Exhibition. Baton Rouge: Museum of Art, Louisiana State University

McKillop, Heather and Paul F. Healy (editors). 1989.  Coastal Maya Trade. Occasional Papers in Anthropology, Dept of Anthropology, Trent University, Canada. 

Selected Journal Publications

McKillop, Heather and E. Cory Sills. 2022. Household salt production by the Late Classic 
Maya: underwater excavations at Ta'ab Nuk Na. Antiquity (2022). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2022.106 
McKillop, Heather. 2022. Empowering undergrads in 3D Digital Imaging, In Digital Heritage  
and Practice in Archaeology. Edited by Ethan Watrall and Lynn Goldstein, University Press of  
McKillop, Heather and E. Cory Sills. 2021. Briquetage and Brine: Living and Working  
at the Classic Maya Salt Works of Ek Way Nal, Belize.” Ancient Mesoamerica DOI: 
McKillop, Heather. 2021. Salt as a commodity or money in the Classic Maya economy. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 6. 
McKillop, Heather.2021. Conclusion: The Quest for Salt, in Salt in Eastern North American and the Caribbean, edited by Ashley A. Dumas and Paul N. Eubanks, pp. 164-174. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa. 
McKillop, Heather, George Harlow, April Sievert, C.Wayne Smith, and Michael C. Wiemann.  
2019. “Demystifying Jadeite: Underwater Maya Discovery at Ek Way Nal, Belize.”  
Antiquity 93 368: 502–518.  DOI: 
Watson, Rachel and Heather McKillop. 2019. “A Filtered Past: Interpreting Salt Production and Trade Models from Two Remnant Brine-Enrichment Mounds at the Ancient Maya Paynes Creek Salt Works, Belize. Journal of Field Archaeology 44:1:40-51. 
McKillop, Heather and Kazuo Aoyama. 2018. “Salt and marine products in the Classic Maya economy from use-wear study of stone tools.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115:10948-10952. 
McKillop, Heather. 2005 “Finds in Belize Document Late Classic Maya Salt Making and Canoe Transport.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102: 5630-5634. 

Courses Taught

Introduction to Archaeology 
Ancient Maya in the Media 
3D Digital Scanning 
Advanced 3D Archaeology 
Mesoamerican Archaeology Seminar 


Howe-Russell-Kniffen Geoscience Complex
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Phone: 225-578-6178
Fax: 225-578-4420



Publications for download