Excavation for the 27th field season of the Caracol Archaeological Project started on Monday, January 31. Camp was opened the weekend of January 21 by 6 men. Four ladies came in on Tuesday, January 25 and 6 senior staff were on site on Saturday, January 29. Five more men arrived on Sunday, January 30 and 7 students arrived on Tuesday, February 1. Four additional senior staff will come at the beginning of March, bring the on-site total for the 2011 field season to 32 individuals. Added to this total will be an additional 6 stabilizers who will be consolidating the Northeast Acropolis and should be on site next week.
During the first week, 6 excavations were opened in 3 different areas and a crude stone stairway was built to the summit of Structure A1. The excavations that were opened are all about 500 meters northwest of the epicentral A Group in several residential groups.
One excavation (Operation C121C) is in Structure F24, an eastern building, in a group that has been previously investigated and is located on the tip of a south running ridge. A Late Classic tomb in the northern building (Structure F21) was looted many years ago and then re-excavated by the project. The eastern building was also looted and our investigation encompassed the frontal looter’s trench and extends over the building summit. Excavation of the looter’s backdirt recovered the majority of a cache vessel that must have once been located within the fill for the frontal stairway.
Fifty meters north of the Structure F24 group is another, smaller, residential unit. Both the northern (Structure F9) and the eastern (Structure F11) buildings in this group were selected for investigation and 2-meter wide trenches were initiated on both of these edifices this week. For Structure F9, the lower stair and two building steps were uncovered. The facings are not as clear in the eastern Structure F11, perhaps because of purposeful disturbance; the front stairway may have been dug through in antiquity. Excavation in Structure F11 has so far recovered a series of buried cache vessels, as well as pieces of a flanged effigy cylinder incensario, in front of where the steps should be.
West of the Structure F11 and Structure F24 residential groups on the tip of a slightly lower ridge running west, excavation continues for a second year in Alta/Baja Vista. In Baja Vista, only Structure F38 is being excavated and the front step and an earlier summit floor were visible at this locus at week’s end. In Alta Vista, the southern Structure F34 and the western Structure F35 are being dug. The southern building had the humus removed by week’s end, revealing two frontal steps and little other architecture. However, the top of a collapsed entryway or crypt running north-south is in building fill at the summit of the building and will be delineated next week. The large western building had its looted eastern face cleaned by week’s end. Several floors were encountered at plaza level (as well as bedrock), but the construction itself appears to have been built in a single phase. Scattered human bone was found in plaza fill to the front of this building.
Saturday brought rain and a large fer-de-lance across the center of the foot-path to the groups. It was dispatched, but more have been sighted. In the afternoon, as the rain had stopped, the Structure A1 summit excavation was established and excavation will commence next week.