March 11, 2006
What a week! We have been busy and have accomplished a lot, but still have much to do before the end of the field season. Our “clean-up crew” of Amanda, Lucas, James, and Jorge arrived on Sunday. Jorge’s friend Mauricio, a professional photographer, arrived later in the week. We are glad to have the extra experienced help in recording and labwork, especially given all of this season’s caches.
This week was the final one for excavations. We were a bit concerned that the weather might slow us down. There was enough drizzle on Tuesday to keep us out of the field, but the rest of the week was mostly clear. Amy and I have finished off the last of the section drawings and Arlen has completed the 1:100 transit plans of the excavation areas and shot the transit points for the sections. Everyone was in lab by sometime on Saturday. We have had formal lab hours every evening after dinner, except for our traditional Wednesday and Saturday movie nights, although many of us worked through those as well.
The site has had many visitors this week – from Cayo came busloads of school children; tourists included some from Central Florida (specifically UCF’s Linda Malone and husband). We expect to see more visitors today and tomorrow since it is a holiday weekend.
Excavations in Structure D2 were completed late in the week. We followed a cut in the floor into dry core fill at the summit and then halted excavations there. Excavations at the base revealed a series of unusually well preserved plaster floors. Sections and plans were completed this morning.
Investigations in the I Group also were completed this week. We dug a small test through the floor of Structure I1 to reveal dry core fill. More polychrome sherds were found in the dry core fill at the summit of Structure I2 before we completed excavations here. At the base, we did a small amount of additional excavation just to to make sure we understood how the stairs were built. Structure I7 investigations also were completed with a small test through the bench. Excavations at Structure I5, however, continued for most of the week. After completing the recording of the north-south crypt in the stairs (which contained a burial with 2 vessels), and excavating the caches that were in the structure section, we stopped the central excavation at the level of a floor close to bedrock (with a small test through it). We continued excavation of the “empty” crypt behind the front stair, encountering an ancient cut through the crypt’s floor that eventually went down to an even earlier crypt. Inside this deep pit were at least 30 cache vessels; 26 of them were planned in place and 4 larger ones were smashed throughout the deposit; it will take into next week to get the total cache vessel count. Yet another cache was encountered between two floor levels to the south of the crypt (but also behind the front step); this cache consisted of 3 sets of small lip-to-lip finger bowl caches (one of which had a complete human finger inside and another of which had part of a finger inside).
Lab work has been interesting too. We have finished excavating the interior contents of two different caches there. The central Structure I5 cache ultimately produced 39 pieces of obsidian (most of those were eccentric shapes) along with a host of other items – all drawn to scale and correctly positioned relative to the cache vessels. The contents of the Structure I5 caches should permit us to interpret the broader function of Caracol’s caches and to allow us some insight into their ideological meaning(s).
We have been working hard, but trying to relax too. Today, we are celebrating Baron Bliss Day (one day ahead of the formal holiday as we traditionally work on that day) with a typical Caracol “drunken chicken” barbeque. There are also weekend “excursions” down to the visitor’s center shop for cold sodas (a very nice addition since last year). There have also been a fair number of slapstick moments. Some, such as the leak in the lab water-tank that took more than half an hour to repair with gum and part of a hose, are more amusing now than at the time. Others, such as the lizard that crawled up my pant leg (and came out on top), were funny at the time.
As I write, we have another army ant invasion beginning. It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t hurt when they bite! We are trying to ward them off with ash from the fugon that exists in our kitchen. Some individuals have suggested that this year’s t-shirt should have had an ant on it, given the amount of invasions that we have suffered. No matter what, we will have left the ants behind by this time next week….