We have reached the mid-point of the field season and are appropriately finishing excavations in residential groups and starting investigations in new residential groups. The weather has held up well and we have generally been blessed with sunshine (although this means that all drinking water has to be brought into camp).
This week, we wrapped up the third exploratory excavation in Nasa. We also finished everything in Astro except for the front chamber which is still being excavated and drawn; it has produced the remains of six individuals so far (based on skulls recovered). In Houston, the tomb complex with double front chambers is still seeing excavation and there is still drawing to be done. So far, apart from the one complete cylinder that was visible in the western chamber, there have not been any other complete ceramics recovered, although a large part of a ceramic drum was recovered in the eastern chamber, as well as a flamingo-tongue seashell and a drilled piece of pyrite.
Most of the finds this week have been coming from the new excavations that were laid out in Apollo on Monday. Apollo is located on a hill to the southeast of the hill that supports Astro, Houston, and Nasa. In Apollo we laid out a small trench on the eastern building as well as a small excavation in the center of the plaza at the point where the axes of the south, north, and east buildings intersect. A good plaster floor was found in the central excavation above bedrock; this same floor was also found in the front part of the eastern excavation in Apollo by the end of the week. By week’s end, Apollo had produced four caches and two burials. Three of the caches were in the plaza in front of the structure; one was seated on a beautiful chert biface point that was approximately a foot long. A fourth cache was found in the northeastern corner of the excavation and so far consists of 6 pairs of lip-to-lip cache bowls. It was set into soft earth immediately east of a much harder horizontal soil level. One of the burials appears to be disarticulated long bone set into the fill at the western excavation limit. The second is likely a crypt that was constructed between the front step and a medial building step – and that was sealed with a row of capstones. Removal of the capstones on Saturday revealed two ceramic vessels protruding from the dirt. One is an incised cylinder similar to ones that we have had in burials in Tabanos, Baja Vista, and Earth.
On Saturday morning, I laid out excavations in two more groups, named Jupiter and Mars. These groups are located in the terraced fields directly south of Nasa and just over the slight saddle dividing terraced fields that run to the north (to the Caracol road) and to the south. Jupiter has two low east buildings that we incorporated into a single large areal excavation that will see some deeper penetration on its edges. Mars has two focal areas: the first is the eastern building that has had its rear looted ca. 30-40 years ago based on the tree growing in the looters’ excavation; an axial trench was placed over the front of this structure; the humus level for the eastern building in Mars was excavated on Saturday. The second is a small eastern building just north of the main east building. This smaller eastern structure is barely recognizable as a building because its entire center is a collapsed tomb; it appears that there may have been a stone stela erected immediately east of the tomb in antiquity. Only excavation will reveal whether the open tomb has been looted. Apart from excavations, I was graced with a visit from high school friends on Wednesday and Thursday (Bob Kasavan and Mike Morel and his wife Cindy). I very much appreciated that they had decided to spend their vacation visiting me in the bush at Caracol to see our current investigations and to learn more about this fascinating ancient city.