Camp actually opened on Saturday January 18 with the arrival of 7 men at Caracol to begin repair and clean-up; 4 more men came in on January 19; and, the 3 cooks and 1 more man arrived on January 21. A. Chase arrived in Belize on January 22 and went into the site with senior staff on Saturday January 25, as soon as they all arrived at the airport. Junior staff arrived in Belize on January 28 and were also transported directly to Caracol from the airport. At the end of our first week of being at full strength, camp is organized, the kitchen is functioning, and excavation has been ongoing in spite of the rain.
The road to Caracol was the worst it had been in 20 years. Because of all of the rain that Belize has been getting since November, a 4-wheel drive vehicle was (and still is) necessary to get in and out of the site for the initial trips. Since then, Forestry has filled in some of the worst places, but every time it rains the road gets bad again, something not helped by the large number of tourists traversing the road on a daily basis (even in the middle of rain).
This constitutes our 30th field season at Caracol and represents 30 years of continuous research that began with the first formal field season in 1985. The research design for 2014 is a continuation of the investigation of a single neighborhood that was instituted 2 years ago. Whereas the 2012 field season focused on residential groups in the northern part of the Machete Plateau and the 2013 investigations focused on the central groups on this plateau, the 2014 excavations are focusing on the groups that occupy the southern part of the Machete Plateau. We are also excavating in two residential groups just west of the Machete Plateau to gain comparative data.
During the first week, investigations were laid out in 6 residential groups and excavation was started in 4 of these groups. Just as last year had a theme involved in the naming of groups, this year the groups were named for the 7 dwarfs of Disney fame. Thus, the following names were assigned to the groups: Alegre (Happy); Dormir (Sleepy); Sonrisa (Smiley); Tonto (Dopey); Vergonsoso (Bashful); and Renegon (Grumpy). The easternmost groups are Alegre and Dormir; four excavations were opened in Alegre this week and two were begun in Dormir. These are all smaller builidings and bedrock has already been encountered in one of the Alegre investigations. A lithic concentration is associated with the northern building in Dormir. The westernmost groups are Vergonsoso and Renegon; one excavation was opened in Vergonsoso and two in Renegon. The southern building that is being investigated in Renegon was once vaulted. The eastern building in Renegon is producing the remains of an elaborate burner which once portrayed a figure in cotton armour.
This weekend the sun has been out and we are hoping that it stays out so as to facilitate our excavations.