The Canadian Latin American Archaeology Society (CLAAS) is a scholarly non-profit organization whose objectives are:

  • to promote the study of Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacano, Aztec, and other Pre-Columbian cultures in Latin America;
  • to provide a network of Canadian archaeologists (including students, professionals, and independent learners) for the exchange of discoveries and work;
  • to assist Canadian archaeologists currently studying or working within the countries of Latin America by establishing scholarly relationships between institutions;
  • to present contemporary research on the ancient cultures of Latin America and opportunities to the general public through educational lectures, events, and outreach as a non-profit society. 


The Canadian Society for Mesoamerican Studies (CSMS) was founded in 1992 as a not-for profit corporation by a collective of enthusiastic Mesoamericanists within the country to provide a place of resources and education about the area. In 2017, CSMS society was revived due to the combined efforts of one of the society's founders, Dr. Stan Loten, and the inaugural Executive Director, Ms. Kathryn Florence. Under a new Board of Directors, the society rebranded as the Canadian Latin American Archaeology Society (CLAAS). We are expanding, creating, and connecting like never before.


The field is still ripe for discovery and exploration. We hope to reinvigorate the study of these ancient cultures and their lingering influence on present Latin American society. Once a sufficient membership is gathered, we hope to facilitate discourse and exchange through an annual conference, which would include lectures and poster session presentations. Keep in touch by joining as we strive to make this a reality.


Please note that CLAAS does not comment on the authenticity or cultural affiliation of any objects for members of the public. As archaeologists we abide by ethical codes, which are in place to protect the cultural heritage of the regions that we study and work in. Objects outside of their country of origin have likely arrived there through illicit means, since most countries have legal frameworks in place that lay patrimonial claim to cultural objects manufactured within their borders. Canada recognizes the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, designed to reduce the looting of sites worldwide and the sale of illegally acquired antiquities, through the Cultural Property Export and Import Act. Under this act, it is illegal to bring cultural property into Canada whose export or sale is banned or controlled by the country of origin.

The International Council of Museums maintains emergency ‘red lists’ which document heritage at-risk of looting and illicit trafficking, including lists specific to Latin America. They also provide an overview of the vast range of legal protection afforded to such heritage, and we encourage you to view these lists for more information: https://icom.museum/en/resources/red-lists/ 

If you are interested in learning more about a cultural object in your possession, please contact the ministry of culture or a museum in the country of origin where it likely originated. To learn more about issues of looting and the illegal trade of cultural heritage, and what you can do to help, visit the following websites:





Our logo is the Mayan glyph "etznab" which represents flint or obsidian. The symbol fits well as these rocks are often found within Mesoamerican sites and studies. The flint aspect is our sacrifice, in time and effort, as we research and uncover more of these amazing civilizations. The obsidian aspect is our promise to only speak the truth as we live and work. The four colors represent the differing foci, but cumulative nature of our members as we come together to create a more beautiful, complete whole.