Start of SCRAP 2016 Session 2

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Teaghan enjoying her first day in Belize, visiting the amazing site of Xunantunich in Cayo District

We have completed the first week of Session 2 at SCRAP! Teaghan survived her first field week in Belize and we are happy to report that she has suffered minimally; sunburn only over 60% of her body, bug bites swollen merely to the size of ping pong balls, and barely 30 bruises.

Monday was the first day in the field and it consisted of an introduction to the site for Teaghan as well as the other new members of our team for the second session; Mr. Gonzalo, Mr. Higinio, and Mr. Zoilo.  We also have Mr. Sylvestro from Session 1 returning to the field with us for this session.  On Monday we toured the epicenter in order for the newcomers to get accustomed to the setting of Alabama.  We then went and saw the excavations at group ALA-047, which we started in Session 1, so that the team could see the progress thus far.  Following that, the group headed over to the new set of mounds (group ALA-045) that we will be working on during this session.  The touring and introductions took half of the day, so after that Meaghan, Shawn, Kelsey, Cristina, and Teaghan returned to Independence to prepare the field kits for the coming week and to wash any artifacts that remained from the final days of Session 1.

Learning to dig

New crew members learning to excavate with Kelsey

The next day was warm and sunny, and, to our dismay, Teaghan had fallen ill overnight.  She toughed it out though and made it out to the field with us for the morning. Higinio, Zoilo, Gonzalo, Teaghan, and Kelsey spent the morning backfilling the hole that Megan and Mr. Idelfonso worked on tirelessly during Session 1 (sorry Megan).  The group of us then headed over to the new set of mounds.  Higinio, Zoilo, and Gonzalo used their machetes to clear the mounds so we could get a good idea of their orientation.  Once it was cleared, the team then set up a 2m x 1m unit on the backside of Mound A and another 2m x 1m unit on the side of Mound B.  The two units both ended up being perfectly orientated to the exact same degree to each other, without even checking the compass, because Meaghan is just that good! After lunch, Kelsey taught Higinio, Zoilo, and Gonzalo how to excavate, and they began removing the disturbed ploughzone layer from Mound A.

Virginia digging

Virginia digging the mysterious feature.

Cristina and Virginia spent the day back in their original unit from Session 1 to attempt to complete excavations of the feature encountered on the final day.  On Tuesday and Wednesday morning they brought the northern half of their unit down to the same level as the feature they wished to excavate. They also started to map the feature, and bisected it to excavate it in smaller portions by 5cm levels.

mystery rock

Kelsey and Higinio’s mysterious granite boulder. What will it be??? Stay tuned for next week’s summary 🙂

Shawn and Sylvestro spent Tuesday and Wednesday completing their excavations of the unit on Mound D from Session 1. Teaghan, Zoilo, and Gonzalo began excavations of the new unit on Mound B on Wednesday.  Kelsey and Higinio continued to dig the unit on Mound A.  Neither team had yet to uncover in situ architecture at the new set of mounds.  Thursday continued in the same manner for those at the new excavations, still with no major recoveries to report.  It was decided on Thursday that in order to capture the missing architecture, another 2m x 1m unit was added onto the ends of the subops at Mounds A and B.  This proved to be a wise decision as on Friday a large piece of granite became exposed at Mound A, hopefully indicating the presence of an intact platform!  Only time and digging will tell!

Cristina and Virginia at the other set of mounds continued to excavate their feature on Thursday and Friday.  They discovered that it was expanding as they continued to dig downwards and they continued to excavate.  As they dug down they discovered that the feature continued to grow and they had to expand their window multiple times in order to capture it all.  Shawn and Sylvestro completed the unit on Mound D on Wednesday.  Following this, the two then moved on to complete the excavations of Kelsey’s mysterious unit on Mound A from Session 1.  They are hoping that by expanding the unit further down the mound they will be able to uncover the mystery that led Kelsey to endless frustration and disappointment during Session 1.

Overall, it was a very productive and exciting first week to the session! The team hopes that the coming week will expose more intact architecture at the new set of mounds; will offer a solution to the great mystery of Subop 2A; and, hopefully, Cristina and Virginia can finally find the end of their feature and move on to a new mound!

Cockscomb-Basin-Sanctuary-and-Jaguar-Preserve-in-BelizeThe weekend (for us), was spent enjoying some fishing and snorkeling in Placencia. Meanwhile, Meaghan and Shawn, along with their new friends Mr. Ben and Mr. Brijilio, ventured into the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve in order to visit another archaeological site in this neighbouring area (stay tuned for more on that).

See you next week!

Kelsey, Teaghan, Cristina