Puchituk West and Monterey
The fourth week of active research by the project has continued with excavations in both Puchituk West and the Monterey area. For the beginning of this week, we had a visitor on site, Dr. Rick Smith from Dartmouth, who was looking at our skeletal material with an eye to getting DNA out of it. He came into Caracol on Sunday and left on Wednesday afternoon to fly back to the United States on Thursday, but not before pulling a series of bone samples for eventual export and testing. At the end of the week, we also had a visit from the IOA (John Morris, George Thompson, Brian Woodye) and NICH (Sapna Budhrani, the head of NICH, plus two others); after lunch at camp and a site tour, the majority of them walked out to visit excavations in the Monterey area.
In terms of Puchituk West, excavations continued in Barracuda in the northern and the eastern buildings. New earlier stairways were found in both excavations and significant movement has been made in terms of getting down to bedrock in both structures. In Tuna, excavation continued all week on the series of burials that have turned up behind the upright stone monument both in the plaza area and in the core of the structure. Two of the interments may be dated to the early part of the Late Classic Period based on accompanying ceramic vessels. In Snapper, excavations in the far eastern building were completed to bedrock without finding any special deposits.
Excavations in the Monterey area have revealed that all of the groups being investigated appear to have been constructed in the Terminal Classic Period. In the hilltop group named Pebble, the eastern pyramid is a single phase construction built directly on top of bedrock. Excavations were also opened this week in the northeastern building in Pebble and on axis to the northern building in Pebble in order to ascertain their forms and if they have more time depth the eastern pyramid. Excavations into the hillside pyramid in Monterey Public Architecture (MPA) found two door jambs on the summit of the pyramid and a series of steps going down its western face. There are also sequential floors on the summit associated with an introduced set of steps. Investigations were also started in the ballcourt. In the residential group named Boulder, excavation has uncovered a series of construction walls in the eastern trench that are built on bedrock; no formal architecture or deposits have been recovered. That all of these constructions appear to be single phase and date to the Terminal Classic is quite surprising.
Laboratory work is proceeding in pace with the excavation with the sherds being washed and dried and the vessels from the special deposits being reassembled for final drawing.