Mr. Gonzalo Choc

It is with deep saddness that we share with you the news of the recent passing of SCRAP team member, Mr. Gonzalo Choc of Maya Mopan Village, Belize. Mr. Gonzalo worked with us from the first day of our project back in 2014 up to the last day of our most recent field season in 2016. He was an integral part of multiple elements of our research , including assisting with the creation of our new site map, settlement survey, local resources studies, and test excavations at Alabama, Stann Creek District. Mr. Gonzalo greeted us everyday with a smile, taught many of the foreign crew to speak words of Mopan (e.g. botik, ‘thank you’), and always treated us to his heart warming chuckle (particularly when Dr. Peuramaki-Brown did something stupid or silly). Members of the Stann Creek Regional Archaeology Project will miss their colleague and friend tremendously. Our condolences to his family and community.

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Summer update from SCRAP

Despite not having an actual field season in Belize this summer, it has still been a busy time for SCRAP.

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    Our 2016 report

    We submitted our 2016 field report to the Belize Institute of Archaeology at the end of June. You can find a copy of our report under the “Publications” tab of the website.

  2. Our permit area has been extended to include the site of Pearce to the north of Alabama.
  3. We have permission to conduct an archaeological field school in spring/summer 2018. Email us for more information (scrap.arky@gmail.com).
  4. We spent time at the IA Archives and the National Archives of Belize to acquire additional information regarding other sites/projects in Stann Creek District, as well as colonial land use documentation from the Alabama area.
  5. SCRAP research is included in the recently released (June 2017) volume of Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology. You can find a copy of our article under the “Publications” tab of the website.
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    Presenting at BAS 2017

    Dr. Peuramaki-Brown presented on behalf of the entire SCRAP team at the Belize Archaeology Symposium in San Ignacio at the end of June, discussing the various “lessons learned” from previous seasons of research at Alabama.

  7. Drs. Peuramaki-Brown and Morton met with Mr. Josh Arana of the Stann Creek House of Culture in Dangriga to discuss future collaborations, and conducted in-class presentations about archaeology at the Gulisi Community Primary School.
  8. An article about our research at Alabama is published in the recent/upcoming issue of the journal Mexicon. If you do not have access to this journal, email us for a copy (scrap.arky@gmail.com).

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    At the Gulisi Community Primary School

This fall will be spent preparing for and promoting the 2018 field school; submitting an application for a SSHRC Insight Grant and National Geographic funding for ongoing research at Alabama and Pearce; and continuing to submit manuscripts for publication.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

The SCRAP Team

Upcoming SCRAP presentations

SCRAP has a number of upcoming presentations at various conferences this spring and summer.

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Dr. Howie (HD Analytical Solutions)

Next week (Friday, March 31), Drs. Meaghan Peuramäki-Brown and Linda Howie will be presenting results of their recent ceramic petrography research at Alabama at the 82nd Annual Meetings of the Society for American Archaeology in Vancouver. Their talk is titled “Pre-Columbian Pottery and Building Materials of the East-Central Belize Maya: A Petrographic Characterization Study.” Preliminary conference program can be accessed here.

For the April talk of the monthly Archaeological Society of Alberta – Calgary Centre lecture series, Dr. Peuramäki-Brown will be discussing “Ancient Maya Settlement and Resource Development in East-Central Belize.” This will take place on Wednesday, April 19th at 7:30pm at the University of Calgary. Visit the ASA website for more details.

Dr. Peuramäki-Brown has also recently been added to the program for this year’s Maya at the Lago conference in North Carolina at the end of April. She will be talking about “The Ancient Maya of East-Central Belize,” with a particular focus on the early work of Dr. Elizabeth Graham in the Stann Creek District, and SCRAP research over the past 3 years. Dr. Graham’s career is being honoured at this year’s conference. Check the conference website regularly for updates.

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Dr. Paris (University of Calgary)

At the 50th Annual Meetings of the Canadian Archaeological Association in Ottawa this May, Megan Williams (Athabasca University undergraduate student) and Drs. Elizabeth Paris, Tristan Carter, and Meaghan Peuramäki-Brown, will be presenting results of two years of obsidian sourcing research at Alabama. This paper represents a multi-institutional collaboration and is titled “The Implications of Obsidian Source Analysis to Occupation Chronology and Economic Relations at Alabama, Belize”. It is part of a session that celebrates Canadians in Belizean archaeology, titledCelebrating Canadian Participation in Belizean Archaeology: 50 Years and Still Going Strong!” Also part of this session is a paper by Drs. Peuramäki-Brown and Graham, titled “The Archaeology of Industry in Stann Creek: ancient and recent past, present and future prospects.”

At the end of June, our 2016 field crew  (Drs. Peuramäki-Brown & Shawn Morton, Cristina Oliveira, Kelsey Pennanen, Virginia Chiac, Teaghan Koster and Megan Williams) will be presenting in San Ignacio, Belize at the Belize Archaeology Symposium. “‘Some lessons can’t be taught, they simply have to be learned’: Experiences from archaeological survey and testing at Alabama, Stann Creek District” is the title of their talk.

Finally, we promise that our 2016 Field Report will be available on our website at the end of June. We will not be returning to the field until 2018, as project members are busy writing up various publications about results of our Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) funded research from the past two years. We will, however, be meeting in June with organizers of the Stann Creek House of Culture in Dangriga to discuss future collaborations with their team.

That’s it for now. We wish everyone a wonderful spring!

Team SCRAP

Fall Activities for SCRAP

Well, it is now November, and I think most of us have fully recovered from our long field season. We have still been busy over the past couple months. Here’s what has been happening:

20160917_103617_001Megan Williams has been finishing up her independent research on the obsidian collected from Alabama during the 2015 settlement survey. She presented preliminary results at a conference in September and will be working toward preparing a formal publication in the coming year, while also applying for graduate school. We’ll also soon be sourcing the obsidian collected from our test excavations this summer. This information can tell us about some of the Alabama Maya’s involvement in long-distance exchange networks over time.

A new project member, Aysha Braun of Athabasca University, is joining us to help with our usewear study of granite metates recovered from our test excavations this summer. She will be working alongside Dr. Peuramaki-Brown and University of Calgary graduate student Matt Abtosway to conduct her independent research using the resulting data. We are hoping this data, along with our sourcing study directed by Dr. Tibbits, will allow us to better understand the workability of the Cockscomb granites and use-life of resulting metates, as well as possibly identifying diverse activities being conducted among the households of Alabama. Watch for results in the near future!

We have completed our preliminary petrographic analysis of ceramic and clay samples collected during the 2015 settlement survey. We are working with Dr. Linda Howie of HD Analytical Solutions and will present these preliminary findings at the 2017 Society for American Archaeology Annual Meetings in Vancouver, B.C. this spring.

Dr. Morton has also completed the final map of the epicentre, and along with Dr. Peuramaki-Brown, is now beginning some spatial and volumetric analyses, which will be featured in upcoming publications currently in preparation.

Additionally, we are sending off many carbon samples to Beta Analytic for AMS dating (as soon as Meaghan completes the sample prep), so we can hopefully get some helpful, absolute dates for the residential sites we tested this summer. This will help with further solidifying the occupation chronology of Alabama.

Finally, all project members are working hard to get the final reports done from the summer season. This includes reviewing all the journal entries, paperwork, photos, and mapping done over the summer, inputting data into our project database, and writing up the detailed report of our investigations. We will have this report submitted to the Institute of Archaeology in 2017, and posted alongside our 2014 and 2015 reports on our website.

We hope you are all enjoying a lovely fall!

The SCRAP Team.

SCRAP 2016 fieldwork comes to an end

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SCRAP 2016 Session 2

We have come to the end of our grand archaeological adventure in Belize, which has been filled with dirt, blood, sweat and tears (mostly of joy, sometimes of frustration). Overall, it has been a worthwhile and exciting experience for us all. Week 4 was spent finishing up final tasks in the field, while our last week focused on lab work and project shut down tasks, including compiling our preliminary report to submit to the Institute of Archaeology prior to leaving the country.

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Meaghan taking end of excavation soil samples from a unit profile

Week 4 started off with visits from Tawny and her husband Matt at the Alabama site on Tuesday and Wednesday. The two came out in order to conduct pXRF analysis on the granite architectural blocks at each of the mounds under excavation. This was done in order to gain information on where the granite blocks used in construction of the house mounds may have been sub sourced.

Teaghan spent Monday digging one more 50cmx1m window in the middle of her unit, to sterile. She did this in order to gain more information about the mysterious piles of rocks in her unit. For Kelsey, Virginia, and Higinio, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning were spent on the long dig to reach sterile levels in their unit. For Teaghan, Tuesday was spent completing the final maps of her unit as well as photographing all areas of the excavation before backfilling the units. With her fieldwork completed, she spent Wednesday back at the hotel assisting with artifact analysis. Cristina spent Wednesday in the field aiding Kelsey in the final mapping of her unit.

 

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Cleaning and oiling equipment for storage

On Thursday, Teaghan, Tawny, and Matt took a field trip! The three went and checked out the Maya sites of Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit (and got to see an NBA player who was on vacation in Belize). Cristina and Meaghan spent the day in Independence organizing and cleaning the field equipment as well as continuing analyzing artifacts. The rest of us spent the day in the field completing the mapping and photographing of all remaining units before backfilling.

 

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Breakfast and presentation at Ms. Juana’s Kitchen

Friday morning the entire crew met at Ms. Juana’s Kitchen for a last breakfast together; they enjoyed delicious fresh avocado, refried beans, chicken, and flour tortilla. After breakfast, other members of the community joined us and were treated to a presentation about the results of our excavations. Members of the community then got the opportunity to see some of the interesting finds from throughout the summer excavations and reminisce about our time in the field.

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Waterfall trip

After this, we took a lovely hike, led by Mr. Gonzalo, through the orchard and up into the foothills to a set of two beautiful waterfalls. The rest of the afternoon was spent cooling off in the fresh water! After this, we returned to the hotel, accompanied by Virginia, Sylvestro, and Higinio.

We then celebrated the completion of our fieldwork with a bonfire at the hotel where we fired briquettes and small pots we created with clay samples collected from site. The group also celebrated Cristina and Virginia’s birthdays with red velvet cupcakes, apple crumble, and Ginger Nut Kisses (the culinary creation that transpired when Kelsey was unable to find the ingredients for regular s’mores in Independence).

The next day, Meaghan, Shawn, Cristina, Teaghan, and Kelsey hopped on the Hokey Pokey and spent the weekend enjoying the beach in Placencia! They were enjoying it so much that they decided to extend their trip an extra night and returned to Independence early in the morning on Monday. Thus began our last week in Belize: the dreaded Lab Week.

Our last week was spent at the hotel completing all of the lab work that needed to be done prior to our return to our respective homes, as well as surviving through a hurricane (which was not that bad in our area). Since the artifacts and copies of all our notes and photos will remain in Belize with the Institute of Archaeology, analysis and scanning of all required information has to be completed prior to departure. A preliminary report on the findings of our excavations was also completed and submitted to the Institute. Monday and Tuesday was spent with Shawn and Meaghan completing the lithic and ceramic analysis, while Teaghan, Kelsey, and Cristina completed the groundstone and daub analysis. Wednesday saw Teaghan scanning all of the paperwork from the site as well as 3D scanning artifacts; Cristina photographed all of the obsidian and small finds; Kelsey and Shawn completed acetate peels on the granite artifact and experimental metates; and Meaghan completed various odds-and-ends tasks. The rest of the week was spent finishing up the last bits of lab work, and packing up to head to San Ignacio on Saturday for our last day in beautiful Belize.

So, all in all, this has been another wonderful field season of the Stann Creek Regional Archaeology Project. We now head home to start considering all the details of our excavations and start compiling our final report, as well as some publishable manuscripts. Watch for our final report of the 2016 season, to appear on this website in early 2017. Also watch for occasional update on what we are up to out of the field, including our ongoing obsidian sourcing, clay characterization studies, granite sourcing, experimental grinding and use wear studies, carbon dating, etc., etc.

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Goodbye, from Alabama-Maya Mopan!

So long from Alabama-Maya Mopan!

SCRAP 2016 Crew