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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So long from Alabama-Maya Mopan!
SCRAP 2016 Crew