This week was a whirlwind of special deposits, new architecture, cave ground-checking (dealing with our LiDAR data), and the start of backfilling.
Excavation continued in the Northeast Acropolis.
In Structure B33, the back rooms off the long front room were all excavated. To the west of the central bench, an inner room was separated by a wall and door; on the bench within this inner room a complete Belize Red tripod plate was recovered as well as the majority of a large storage jar. Investigation also continued off the southwest corner of Structure B31. A series of stairs were recovered that led down to a landing; the landing was lower than the front central terrace and was bounded by a well-mortared side wall. The south side of the landing ended in a raised stoop that led into what appears to have been a room facing back to the Northeast Acropolis, again suggesting that the Northeast Acropolis was a very private area during the Terminal Classic Period.
Perhaps the most important find of the week came from the central test excavation into the plaza. Most of last week was spent opening up the excavation to encompass a pit which had been found. At a depth of 2.1 meters, the pit that was sealed by a cap and a floor; it measured some 1.2 m by 1.2 m, almost being square. Upon excavation, the pit was some 60 cm in depth and was cut through earlier floors. The cap that sealed it contained some 30 cm of marl, under which was a deposit of smashed and burnt vessels, artifacts, and bones (animal and human) – all badly burnt and all encompassed in a layer of ash and underlain by a layer of carbon. Some 18 vessels (including a two part censer) appear to have made up the assemblage as well as a host of green obsidian blades and 2 bifacial obsidian knifes (measuring 26 and 36 cm respectively). The deposit dates to the Early Classic Period.
In Vista, a series of burials were excavated this week and backfilling was started.
In the eastern building of Vista Bajo, two burial crypts were excavated. One was located directly under the buried shrine room and contained a single individual, head to the north, with two vessels (a Belize Red cylinder and a tripod plate). The second crypt was located to the front (west) of the shrine room. It too contained a single individual, this time accompanied by 4 vessels (a cylinder vase with a carved glyphic text, a tripod plate, a deep bowl, and a face cache [highly unusual in a burial]). In the northern building, the burial of a child was found immediately north of the balk facing; the child was accompanied by 3 vessels that dated to the Terminal Classic Period; a carved shell had been placed over the child’s face. As the area between the balk and the floor fronting the masonry building appeared to have been cut, the area was dug down, exposing first an oval cache vessel and then the capstones for a tomb at the eastern extent of the investigation. Excavation of the tomb commenced on Friday. The chamber runs east-west and measures ca. 2.5 m long by 0.75 m high by 1 m in height; the vessels that were visible date the deposit to the Late Classic Period.
In Vista Alto, the excavation of the trench into the eastern building finally halted at a depth of over 5 m below the summit. The excavation of the basal crypt – which was covered by large capstones (including 2 of slate) – was then begun. As with the other burials in this building, multiple individuals were present. Three vessels from the crypt indicate an early Late Classic date for the interment.
On March 2, an intrepid expedition with 2 visiting cavers and a large staff contingent ventured 3.5 kilometers north to double-check the large cave/ sink visible in the LiDAR imagery; they were successful in locating it, but it was not promising in terms of archaeological materials. On March 6, the final two members of the crew arrived – one illustrator and one cataloguer – with almost 2 weeks to go to finish all of the recording.