Week 2 (January 29 – February 4, 2024)

This is the first real week of archaeological work for the 2023 field season. I was out of camp on Sunday night to do an airport pickup. On Monday, I did shopping in the morning in Cayo for items that we needed (including a chain saw) and then drove to the Belize City airport to pick up University of Houston students Declan, Gina, and Sonia. Their flight was on time and, as soon as they exited customs, we drove straight into Caracol so that they would be able to set up their bedding before nightfall. On Tuesday, all of them were given an orientation tour of the Caracol epicenter. The men were out in the bush clearing ancient residential groups that we intend to investigate. On Wednesday everybody went out into the field, down the Conchita Causeway, and up onto the ridge that holds four of the groups that we will dig this season (just over a kilometer southeast of camp).

We laid out excavations in four groups on the ridge as well as in the farthest group to the north; one valley group still needs more logs cut off the east building before an excavation can be placed. The groups this year were all provided with nonsense names appropriate for a donut shop, so our plaza groups are called: Chocolate, Vanilla, Lemon, Maple, Coffee, and Cream. Vanilla is the westernmost group and we placed 2 m wide trenches in both the eastern (Operation C236B) and northern (Operation C236C) buildings. Due north of Vanilla is Chocolate, which is an expansive raised platform with relatively low structures. Two open tombs are evident on the south side of this platform, one in the plaza and one in the eastern structure. There are two eastern buildings. We placed a small test excavation in front of the northern east structure (Operation C235C) and a long trench over the southern east building that includes both the tomb in that building and the one in the plaza (Operation C235B). East of Vanilla and southeast of Chocolate at a slightly lower elevation is very small group that we called Lemon. We placed a trench over the eastern building in this group (Operation C237B). The easternmost group on the ridge was nicknamed Maple and we placed an excavation over its eastern building (Operation C238B) as well. Proceeding downslope off the ridge to the northeast, a valley group is reached that has been nicknamed Coffee; excavations were not yet placed here, but it is likely that the western and eastern buildings will be investigated (Operation C239B and 239C). Finally northeast of Coffee some 300 m is the final group we will excavate this season, a small group named Cream; an excavation was placed over one of its buildings (Operation C240B).

On Thursday we began digging the four excavations laid out in Chocolate and Vanilla. The smaller test pit in Chocolate is producing a lot of small seashell debris, indicating that someone was working shell in this general area at some point in the past. In the southern trench in Chocolate a finger cache consisting of four vessels was uncovered in the center of the trench along its northern margin. The facing for an earlier platform corner was found just west of this cache buried in later platform fill. Excavations continued on both Friday and half-day Saturday in Vanilla and Chocolate; Lemon was also begun. The northern building in Vanilla produced a series of three steps, and an earlier facing was found in the summit of the eastern building in Vanilla. The eastern building in Lemon produced bedrock throughout the front of the trench just under the humus; capstones were uncovered in the center of the building and cover a small crypt. On Saturday, two face caches were recovered in plaza fill in front of the eastern building in Vanilla; one face cache is a relatively large barrel with an elaborate face (human) and the other is a smaller urn featuring two eyes and a beak (bird). Neither was in great shape, but they do help place the use of the building in time to before 700 CE.

Declan, Gina, and Sonia in South Acropolis Tomb
Gabriela, Gina, and Abner in C236B trench in Vanilla
Gabriela, Jaime, and Flavio in northern trench (C236C) in Vanilla
Adrian, Sonia, and Declan in C235B trench in Chocolate
C235B trench in Chocolate looking east
Gina above an open tomb in C235B in Chocolate
Sonia with finger bowl cache in C235B in Chocolate
Reynaldo with capstones over crypt in C237B in Lemon
Face Cache 1 from C236B in Vanilla
Face Cache 2 from C236B in Vanilla

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