Excavations are in full swing as of this week and are moving along quite well. By the end of the week, we had excavations taking place in three groups.
The northernmost group on the ridge is Astro. In Astro, we are investigating the eastern and southern building. The southern building has had its front areally exposed as well as a 2 m section of its summit on axis. The axis investigation revealed an earlier building with two benches, one along the southwest back wall and another along the eastern interior wall. At some point later in time, the two benches were joined as one with the addition of a new facing on the north side of the bench. Unlike Houston, the eastern building in Astro has produced no caches, but it has produced two burials so far. There is a crypt burial to the front of the building that contains three vessels dating to the early part of the Late Classic era with an individual whose head is to the north. The back of the eastern building contains a very well-constructed infilled tomb with an interior passage between an eastern bench and a western offset. So far disarticulated bone and large fragments of four vessels are visible. This tomb was infilled with sascab that also contained broken human bone; the use of sascab for fill is unusual for residential groups. Both burials are at a different angle that the orientation of the latest building, indicating that they were probably associated with an earlier building that was removed in antiquity. Sander and Shelby worked in Astro most of the week and have hones their drawing skills.
The central group is the highest in elevation and is called Houston. We have undertaken three excavations here. The first was a small areal excavation on the western side of the plaza that exposed bedrock approximately half a meter beneath the surface. The second investigation is a 2 m wide axial trench on the eastern building. Excavation last week in front of the building revealed two face caches and this week the bedrock was exposed, revealing the capstones for a burial that runs north to south. The head for the individual is to the north and an slight extension to the north will be needed to recover the skull next week. The eastern building has a series of steps across the front leading to the summit. The summit is covered by the trunks of large trees, meaning that it is unlikely to see excavation. However, there is a broader area between the lower two steps and the summit steps which has been excavated, revealing a bedrock outcrop with two small round holes on centerline to the building. The bedrock has been cut through from north to south to construct some sort of chamber adjacent to it. The chamber is lined with stone to the south and east. It appears that the center capstones collapsed within the chamber and there is a lot of dirt and rock within what should have been an open space. This feature extends half a meter beyond the southern excavation limit and over a meter to the north of the excavation limit; the dirt and rock in the chamber preclude us from being able to see exactly what is going on. We will definitely undertake an extension over this feature next week. The third excavation in this group revealed an alleyway between the central and southern eastern buildings. Jordan and Luca have worked in this group during the week.
We also started work this week on the third southernmost group, called Nasa. This group is very indistinct and utilized bedrock and stone to form its housing pads and platforms. Half of the stair for the southern building was exposed (the bedrock half) and a test excavation in the vicinity of what should be an eastern building was also begun. The eastern excavation produced a host of lithics, indicating the presence of a workshop (or at least dumped workshop debris) at this location. Luca worked here most of the week. Mo worked back and forth between all three groups, depending on where she was need.
We had to end our Saturday excavations early because of the threat of rain. All of us made it back to camp in a light drizzle before it started a torrential downpour shortly after 11 AM. The rain was so heavy that our empty front water tank was half-filled with drinking water by 2 in the afternoon. Drizzle continued into the evening. The temperature also dropped with the rain and Saturday night was quite cold.