The first week of excavation has gone by relatively quickly. Seven men came into Caracol on January 18 and the three ladies came the day after. They made the necessary camp repairs, got the kitchen up and running (in spite of a broken refrigerator), and bushed and raked the areas that we have slated for investigation. Elyse and I drove down from Florida, leaving the 23rd of January, getting to Belize on January 27, going to Caracol to drop off luggage and get a food and supply order from the cooks on January 29, and then going into the site for good on January 30. Amy Morris, Maureen Carpenter, Jorge Garcia, and Lisa Lomitola also went in to stay on January 30. On Sunday morning, January 31, Elyse and I drove to the airport where Brian Woodye and George Thompson met us to bring 9 UCF students (most new) back to camp.
The goals of the 2010 field season are to recover Terminal Classic trash from high status groups in both the epicenter and near-epicenter settlement to see how it compares to the Terminal Classic ceramic sub-complex recovered from the floors of Caracol’s stone palaces. The Terminal Classic palace ceramics found on the floors of these constructions – and representing latest use – are fairly uniform throughout the epicenter, but represent ceramic forms that were generally not available to the rest of Caracol’s inhabitants. We have interpreted this to mean that Caracol’s latest elite had either voluntarily or involuntarily differentiated themselves from the bulk of the site’s population during the Terminal Classic Period, seeing this as being representative of broader socio-political processes. By examining how the latest ceramic sub-complexes differ between palace occupants and high status groups, it is hoped to shed some light on the reasons behind Caracol’s final collapse.
On Monday I laid out excavations in the new group, nicknamed “Vista” (Alto and Bajo), a double group west of the epicenter (15 minute walk) containing sizeable constructions and linked to the epicenter by its own via. Excavations commenced Tuesday. We are digging one of the north buildings, one of the east buildings, and one of the south buildings in Vista Bajo – and the east building in Vista Alto. On Wednesday, we had our first cache, a single finger bowl in the plaza on axis to the east building in Vista Bajo (Str. F39). On Friday, we had a second deposit, a face cache in a narrow stair niche at the base of the east building in Vista Alto (Str. F33), an 8 m high pyramid. On top of this same east building, a lot of pieces of flanged cylinder incensarios have been coming out of the fill. These turned out to be associated with a matrix filling a cut through an earlier floor and were liberally distributed in this fill (parts of at least 6 incensarios). On Saturday, a body was found at the bottom of the pit, feet to the north. While most of the body is articulated, the lower right tibia and upper left humerus are missing, as is the skull of the individual. The body is associated with a limestone bar, 2 obsidian blades, and probably a pair of drilled sea shells found at the eastern limit of the cut. Also on Saturday, two partial finger bowls were recovered in association with Str. F33, one in the basal stairs and the other in the rubble on the slope.
In the Northeast Acropolis, we exposed the balk area associated with Str. B34. While the 3.2 m wide balk is made with finely cut stone and is associated with a cut stone plinth, it is bedded on dry core fill boulders – either an after-thought to a collapsing building or a pause in the middle of a construction effort. We also started removing the balk between Operation C183E and C183F (excavated in 2009) and began looking for the basal facing for Str. B33 by extending the Str. B32 excavation to the north. Maureen and I also placed a 2 m by 2 m excavation, which will go deep, in the center of the acropolis plaza on axis to both Str. B33 and Str. B32. We also cut a new walking path to the group along the eastern side of Caana. When the additional men appear next week we will lay out other areal excavations in the Northeast Acropolis.