SCRAP 2018 Week 1: Small Beginnings

This past week (May 14-18) was our first full week at site. We arrived early Monday morning and met with our Foreman and some of the local crew members who would be working with us (the remaining to join us next week).


Chopping trails into the site

We got to work on identifying our excavation areas for the season—in the monumental core and in the settlement—clearing structures of low brush, exterminating the accumulated population of mosquitoes, and setting up excavation units.

We also had to dig out some of our previous excavations, where we are adding an extension excavation to expose an enigmatic feature encountered at the end of the 2016 season.


Digging out old excavations, exposing tarp-covered feature at the bottom.

We occasionally took breaks under palms to enjoy a Happy Cow Happy Hour.


Happy Cow Happy Hour!

During the week we also caught up with friends in the village, met with the principal of the local school to discuss future collaborations—he even brought the teachers out to visit the site later in the week—and met the new Alcalde (village leader) to talk about the project, future directions, and future community engagement initiatives. It was a really great start to the season.

On Friday, while field assistants finished setting up shelters over the excavations, we headed to Dangriga where we met with the head of the Stann Creek House of Culture to discuss our other new collaborations and future directions; then to the property manager’s office to drop off a copy of our 2018 excavation permit; stopped in Belmopan for some delicious Jamaican food (goat curry and oxtail); and finally back to San Ignacio to pick up the van for the students, and to spend an evening with friends.


Delicious Jamaican food

Saturday morning we caught a bit of the Royal Wedding on TV, then headed to the airport and collected all of the students and some staff (see website section on Project Members)—all arrived safe and sound (some with more baggage than others… Megan). Other staff and researchers will be joining us in two and three-weeks’ time. We headed back to Stann Creek, settled and fed the students, then it was an early night to bed.


Students housed and fed

Sunday was spent touring our field camp; hearing lectures about the community and nearby wildlife sanctuary from the Maya couple who host us; learning more about the Alabama project and plans for this season and the future; presenting the Final Examination Challenge to the students (and public outreach initiative); setting up our new lab; and some team building activities.


Our new amazing lab–built special for us!

With respect to this latter, we would like to formally introduce the world to our excavation teams: “Chulche”, “Ixtuculil”, and the ”Plumb Bobbettes”!


Excavation teams

Until next week, cheers from Belize!

Meaghan and Shawn

SCRAP 2018 Week 0: The Unofficial Beginning

Hello everybody out there in the blogosphere (that’s how bloggers address their readers, right?),

We are approaching the end of our first unofficial week of the 2018 season of the Stann Creek Regional Archaeology Project (SCRAP). Here’s the tally:

New sites found: 0
Units excavated: 0
Artifacts recovered: 0
Hours spent at site: 0
Sunburns: Yes
Bug bites: Yes

Admittedly, the numbers at this point aren’t too impressive, however, this is the reality of getting a project going each season. We do a lot of running around in the first week so that when students and other staff/researchers arrive, they can hit the ground running. We haven’t been idle, and we thought we’d give you a sense of what we’ve been up to.

5 May 2018 (Saturday): After a long day (or two) of travel, we finally arrived in Belize (late). After clearing customs, we were met at the exit to the terminal by a representative from the car rental agency—he looked very familiar to us. It turns out that he is the brother of a good friend of ours and we spent the next couple of hours happily chatting with him on our way back to Cayo to finish the paperwork for the rental. We then ventured out for dinner with our friend, before settling into our home for the upcoming week.


Along Burns Ave. in San Ignacio, Cayo District, Belize

6 May 2018 (Sunday): Everybody needs a break, and we spent the day visiting with friends and getting caught up on the local gossip. BBQ and adult beverages all around!

7 May 2018 (Monday): Breakfast, then on the road to Belmopan to meet with a representative of the Institute of Archaeology (IA) to pick up the season’s permit. We spent some time chatting with members of the IA and Institute for Social and Cultural Research (ISCR), both part of NICH (National Institute of Culture and History), about our plans for the season and beyond, before driving south down the Hummingbird to pick up most of our stored field equipment. We spent the rest of the day sorting through the field equipment to identify any items that needed to be purchased/replaced (for an idea of the type of equipment archaeologists use, take a peek at our blog post on the subject from back in 2016). Stewed chicken, rice and beans, and potato salad for dinner!


Along the Hummingbird Highway

8 May 2018 (Tuesday): Communication is important, and we spent a couple of hours waiting to have our cell phones reactivated from the past season. Luckily, this gave us time to grab a bite to eat before we drove to Spanish Lookout for a morning of shopping. On the list: pigtail buckets, tarps, and assorted hand tools. We also had ice cream as reward for our hard work. Conch ceviche and tequila for dinner.


Communication, makes it happen. Communication, talkin’ together  🙂

9 May 2018 (Wednesday): The day was spent going through the remaining equipment, sorting it into categories (drawing, survey and photography, artifact analysis, and various other odds and ends), and again determining what items needed to be purchased/replaced. Conch fritters and fish sere for dinner. Perhaps a beer or two.


10 May 2018 (Thursday): We went shopping for the last of the necessary equipment, repaired broken/worn items, and tackled the scary task of tallying expenses to date. It was our good friend’s birthday, so we made him cook dinner for us at his restaurant (Erva’s) before celebrating with him until the wee hours.

11 May 2018 (Friday): We spent most of the morning tackling edits on a paper and catching up on email and university responsibilities. The afternoon was spent prepping–including a trip to the market–for our annual pizza cookout with friends (a raucous event filled with food, family and friends, and a gaggle of hyperactive kids… and their children).

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Market stall selling many different spices, herbs, etc. This shot is of cinnamon sticks, lemongrass, and copal

12 May 2018 (Saturday): Finally, we buttoned up the last of our preparation prior to our departure for Stann Creek on Sunday. Electronics were charged. Computers were backed up. Our new database system from Codifi was installed on our field tablets, and we designed a new logo to go with it all (see below). Ms. Erva’s famous escabeche for dinner… can it get any better?

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Our new mobile digital database system, courtesy of our friends and colleagues at Codifi

13 May 2018 (Sunday): With help from our special movers, we packed up the vehicles and drove out to our field camp in Stann Creek District. We got all set up, then took our helpers for a wonderful fish lunch in Hopkins. Perfection!


Fish lunch on the beach in Hopkins, Stann Creek District, Belize.

That’s it for Week 0 (the unofficial beginning of SCRAP 2018)—you’ll hear from us again next weekend after our first full week in the field, and when students arrive!

Cheers from Belize,
Shawn and Meaghan


SCRAP 2018 Field Season is a GO!

Last week we got the formal go ahead from the Belize Institute of Archaeology for our 2018 season. We are now in the process of finalizing some details and we’ll be ready for the field in May. Looking forward to a great 6-week season, including an exciting 4-week field school program! Here’s some photos from our wonderful new base camp, which includes a great in-camp instructional classroom (in addition to the actual field site) and lab area, where students will learn about archaeology and the ancient Maya, but also about the modern Maya of Belize from our Maya hosts.

Archaeology Field School at Alabama, 2018

Info Session: Maya Archaeology in Belize Field Program

Date & Time: November 28, 2017 | 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Location: ES 614, University of Calgary (available online as well, see below)
Learn more about this Group Study Program (GSP) by attending this info session and visiting the following link —
The Maya Archaeology in Belize Field Program represents an excellent opportunity for archaeology and anthropology students to develop or extend their field experience through practice in archaeological field techniques within a working archaeological site.

If you cannot make it to our info sessions in person, please join us via Adobe Connect: To join the visual portion of the meeting, use the following link and enter as a guest:

To join the audio portion of the meeting: Dial from your phone: CAN: +1-(866)811-9555; Conference/Participant Code: 5016621923

If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before: Test your connection:

Get a quick overview:

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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