On Monday, June 20th, the start of Week 4, the crew returned to the field after a lovely weekend off. Cristina, Megan and Kelsey spent the weekend relaxing and drinking Mango Coladas on the beach in Placencia. Meanwhile Meaghan and Shawn were stuck in Independence working on their conference papers for the upcoming BAAS [*insert jealous cries of frustration here*].
On Monday evening, Jill Jordan joined our crew in Independence! Meaghan brought Jill out to the site on Tuesday morning to familiarize her with the area. Following this, the two of them returned to the hotel to conduct analyses on the ceramics recovered from the site thus far. Jill was kind enough to provide some insight into the antiquity and nature of some of our possible local and “exotic” ceramics, helping to further understand the occupation span of the settlement, and to begin addressing some of the preliminary results of our characterization studies (you can learn more about these at the SAA meetings in Vancouver in 2017).
The goal for the crew in Week 4 were to try and finish the units that were started in the area of ALA-047. Monday and Tuesday was spent in the field continuing to dig at our respective units. Megan spent Monday digging her deeeeep unit on Mound C in an attempt to reach sterile matrix and natural geological layers. She needed to reach up to 40cm without finding any artifacts so that she could close her unit prior to her departure back to Canada at the end of the week [*If she didn’t, we would force her to stay 🙂 ]. Monday proved to be successful and she dug down 20cm with no artifacts to be found. Tuesday morning continued this same way and it was looking like Megan was going to complete her goal of finishing her unit ahead of schedule. This was until on Tuesday afternoon while they were digging, the extremely lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it), Mr.Idelfonso came across one lone obsidian blade in the pit. This meant that the soil was not sterile and Megan had to begin the process of excavation to 40cm of sterile soil all over again.
Shawn and Mr.Juan continued the excavation of their intriguing “pile of rocks” [*a.k.a. Mound D*] on Monday. They discovered that it appears as though the rocks form an alignment, although the exact interpretations of what they could represent are still being debated. On Tuesday, Shawn and Mr.Juan were forced out of their unit temporarily as it was overtaken by army ants as they cleared across the landscape taking out all living things in their path. It was a spectacle to see for those of us who have never witnessed the power of all of these small creatures moving in unison [*This migration made perfect sense on Wednesday when we were hit by a huge rain. You can read more about Army Ants here: http://www.insects.org/entophiles/hymenoptera/army-ants.html *].
Wednesday was an interesting day for the crew as we were awoken in the morning to the roar of thunder nearby. The crew drove to Maya Mopan and discovered heavy rainfall. As a result, Meaghan decided that it was best not to attempt to dig through mud all day and the digging was postponed. Instead, we returned to Independence to conduct lab work for the day. Cristina, Megan and I spent the morning conducting basic analysis on the artifacts that had been recovered earlier in the week. The afternoon was spent completing the cataloging and analysis of all of the obsidian recovered from our excavations to-date.
Meaghan and Shawn spent the day using the 3D scanner to record some of the artifacts recovered at the site. Some of these scans are available online for those of you who are interested in seeing them. (here is one: https://sketchfab.com/models/5370085ca4c64aa082d5b19c11649eda). All of our scans will ultimately become part of the Athabasca University Virtual Archaeology Lab. This will be an Open Education Resource (OER), hopefully up and running by early 2017.
Meaghan, Shawn, Cristina, Megan and I left Independence on Saturday morning to come to San Ignacio. We spent the night in town and said goodbye to Megan on Sunday as she flew back to Canada. The remaining 4 of us spent the week in San Ignacio at the Belize Archaeology and Anthropology Symposium (BAAS) hosted by the National Institute of Archaeology. We learned much about the other research happening in the area, and Meaghan presented a preliminary overview of the first two years of research by SCRAP.