Week 3 (February 12 – February 19)

This was the week of rain, mud, water puddles, and a squishy walk to the top of the hill supporting the Puchituk Terminus. In spite of that, we succeeded in opening up all of the initial excavations that we wanted to do, bringing lunch out with everybody so as to not have to do the walk twice a day (and to have more time for excavation).

In the Cheech residential group, excavation continued on both the northern alley (between two buildings) and on the axial trench through the eastern building. This is a group with little or no formal architecture. While stones were used to build up the structures, faced stone is very rare. On the eastern building they were able to bring the western end of the excavation down to bedrock, but did not find any deposits associated with the building.

On Monday, we also laid out an axial excavation in an eastern building in the Chon residential group; on Tuesday, we were able to use a chain saw to cut all of the treefall and logs out of the path to Chon, meaning that it was easier to get there. By week’s end, the cobble core of Chon had been largely exposed, but like Cheech, there was very little in the way of formal architecture, although Saul found good floor bedding in the plaza in front of the structure.

On Wednesday, we made a concerted effort to get to the third residential group that we wished to excavated. This was an all-day affair with 5 men and a chainsaw to cut through logs and treefall (there were definitely hurricane-force winds through Puchituk within the last few years). The bushers also killed a large barba-amarilla (snake) that was in the path of our chopping. The final route connected Chon to the next residential group, named Chak (in honor of all of the rain that we have had for the last two weeks); the path followed the Puchituk Causeway toward the large market plaza, but veered into the Chon Group because of the density of the treefall. So, the path that we are following at the beginning of the day to get to Chak goes from: the Caracol road into the large elite Puchituk Group called Sage (ca. 40 minute walk); down Sage’s causeway to the large terminus plaza; then south to the reservoir; around the reservoir and east to the residential group named Midget; through Midget’s plaza and then southwest of its west building; across the Puchituk Causeway and down a hill to Chon; then out Chon’s SW corner back to the causeway and finally west to where the causeway turns south; the Chak Group is tangent to the causeway at this point (additional 15 minute walk).

In Chak, we laid out an axial trench on the 4 m tall eastern building and will probably also excavate an open chultun behind one of the small west structures. Wednesday night our generator would not start and we had a “black-out,” going to bed early. On Thursday, we had a hard rain between 7 AM and 8:30 AM and then it cleared, so we went out to dig at 9 AM.

Excavation was started in the Chak Group, and all of the other excavations continued. David Griffith came in and took out our butane generator and loaned us a generator from the caretakers, telling us he would be back on Friday (he did not come back until Sunday). Friday was a rainless day until 2:30 PM, so our path dried out a bit and we were able to get a good amount of work done. Besides, Cheech, Chon, and Chak, excavations also progressed in Sage. The southern building summit is being cleared to draw the plan, but this activity got closed down for a while as other excavations opened and the walking paths needed to be cleared. However, excavation continued all week at the base of the eastern structure in Sage.

By week’s end, it became clear that we were dealing with a vaulted range building with three doorways spread across the front base of the 8 m high pyramid. A reset stela (95 cm wide) is in front of the central door. The rear wall of the structure is bedded on fill at a higher level than the bench surface that abuts it across the entire building; this building peculiarity was likely hidden by a thick coat of stucco. Each doorway (2 m wide) was associated with an 50 cm inset into the bench and a lower building floor. We have not encountered this kind of architecture in association with an eastern building before and, therefore, do not know exactly what to expect when we penetrate the basal rooms.

On Saturday, three men stayed in camp to pump water, chop wood, and carry out other chores and the other seven went out to the Monterey area with Adrian and myself. Here we cut a path into the central plaza for the public architecture; we went by the large hilltop residential group, cutting down to the eastern pyramid set on the side of the hill, and then over to the large plaza that supports a nice ballcourt on its eastern side. We spent the morning clearing the brush off the plaza west of and around the ballcourt, preparatory to soil testing; we will need at least one other Saturday to complete this task.

Amy, Roxayn, Faydt, and Gabriella at lunch at Sage


Roxayn in Eastern Building in Cheech

Amy in eastern building in Sage


Saul and Faydt excavating the summit of the south building in Sage


Gabriella and Saul in eastern building in Chon


Adrian at the eastern building in Chak at start of excavation

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