All Of This Has Happened Before And Will Happen Again

If, like Meaghan and Shawn, you are “of a certain age,” you’ll recognize the title of this blog as an oft-repeated quote from Battlestar Galactica. The show and its subtext, while arguably kicking off this Golden Age of television that we are currently enjoying (btw, what are you doing reading this? Have you seen The Last of Us yet?!), have absolutely nothing to do with the topic of this week’s blog. The quote itself, however, captures the feeling with which we start this, our seventh field season of the Stann Creek Regional Archaeology Project (SCRAP).

This has happened before. We are returning to the Alabama Townsite and the Stann Creek District, continuing our research program into the timing and tempo, the flavour, and the identities and motivations of those driving the development of this Ancestral Maya townsite in the latter half of the Late Classic period.

Last Sunday (with only a few minor bumps along the way… picture the airport scene from Home Alone), co-directors Meaghan and Shawn arrived safe and sound in Belize. We spent three days staying with our good friends in Cayo (thanks, Ms. Erva and Mr. Landy), made trips to Spanish Lookout to purchase equipment, and reconciled ourselves to the relative heat of Belize.

On Wednesday, we picked up our second rental vehicle (thank you, Mr. Eldridge at Flames Auto) and headed to Belmopan. We had an enjoyable lunch with Maya Prince: an activist, journalist, and host of the Maya Culture-Belize Facebook Page, who is making an impact across Belize and beyond. We also met with Dr. Badillo at the Institute of Archaeology. We caught up on some exciting initiatives they are driving and picked up our research permit (Brett Houk, we are No. 11… which is like “1” but twice).

Our lab buddies.

We then went south, receiving a warm welcome from our hosts, friends, and SCRAP collaborators in at Nuuk Che’il Cottages in Maya Centre (Ms. Aurora, Mr. Ernesto, Rigo, Gabriel, and Marroquin Saqui). On Thursday, we braved the scariest task in any archaeological project: opening up our storage. We pulled out, dusted, sorted our gear, set up our lab and room, and added to the list of things to buy! We set up our various communications systems on Friday and did some “work” work.

Saturday, we drove out to Maya Mopan to meet with community leaders (including the village Chairman, Alvino Teul) and various project members and supporters (old and new) before picking up Dave and Riley at the Dangriga airport, getting them settled, then having a lovely dinner at Driftwood in Hopkins.

Finally, on Sunday, we loaded the van with Dave, Riley, and Ms. Sonieda Teul (our new Educational Outreach Advisor) and visited both Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit in the Toledo District. We also made sure to stop by Che’il Mayan Products for some delicious, cold chocolate milk!

This should all sound familiar if you follow us on Instagram or Facebook (@scraparky). As previously written on this blog, this first week is about preparation for the coming season. By this point, the process is pretty smooth (we even had time to enjoy ourselves!).

And it will happen again. This year, however, our preparations are bitter-sweet. This season is the last covered by our current SSHRC Insight grant, which means it represents a transition. As usual, we’ll keep you apprised of our activities as the season progresses, with our weekly blog posts written by different project members and in a different voice each week, along with some special “extra” posts. We’ll also spend some time looking back. How has our understanding of Alabama developed over the past seven years? Which of our ideas has found support? Which haven’t? How have our methods changed, and what have we learned? And we’ll look to the future. How do we pivot to the following research stage at Alabama and Stann Creek District? What else do we and our local colleagues want to know? How do we build on what we’ve learned? How can we develop along with our communities, and how will this require us to change?

We look forward to exploring these ideas, and we would be grateful for your input. (Leave us a comment!)

So say we all.