Baron Bliss Day
Week 8 marked a shift in what we have been doing for most of the field season. We moved from focusing on excavation to only doing laboratory work. The natural break between excavation and laboratory work was Sunday, March 10, which was Baron Bliss Day in Belize.
Baron Bliss was an eccentric gentleman who anchored his yacht off the Belizean Coast, got sick, and never set a physical foot in the country; but, he was kind enough to leave all of his estate to Belize (then British Honduras), so every year there is a celebration for him. At the site, we have a traditional chicken barbeque with brownies for the entire project on the weekend and then work on the physical holiday (being Monday).
In recent years, Baron Bliss Day has been paired with an extended weekend canoe race (Ruta Maya) from Cayo to Belize City that runs from Friday through Monday. For 2019, the IOA (Institute of Archaeology) from NICH fielded the winning team and the celebration continued through the entire day of Monday March 11 (they also won two years ago, but last year flipped their canoe on the final approach). Thus, Baron Bliss Day usually marks the change from excavation to laboratory work.
Lucas and Lisa Johnson arrived on Sunday March 10 in time to share in the second go-around of barbeque chicken and then to begin helping us illustrate all of the important artifactual materials from this field season. By week’s end, all of this season’s pottery vessels had been glued and drawn.
Excavation to lab
As all of the excavations closed down last week, backfilling of both Puchituk West and Monterey was completed by the end of the day on Tuesday. For the rest of the week, efforts by the men were focused on getting lumber for camp repair, in doing camp repair, in finishing up numbering the sherds that had been excavated, and in cleaning up camp. All of the project staff and students were engaged in laboratory work, either numbering sherds or cataloguing all of the small artifacts that had been found in the various excavations. There is a large quantity of chert being processed, especially since there was a chert production area in Barracuda. As of Saturday, cataloguing was still continuing and was not yet finished.
This week also saw the revenge of the vehicles. We have two trucks that have been taking everyone down the Caracol road to points from which we then walked into excavation locales. A red Toyota Tacoma took everyone to Puchituk West and the brown Mahindra took everyone to Monterey (and also went in and out of the site, as needed). The Tacoma refused to start without having its battery jump-started from the Mahindra; it will get a new battery after the field season.
The Mahindra had its own issues with its tailgate literally falling off on the bumpy Caracol road (and this is after the road had been freshly grated by the tourist industry). The road had also created other issues for the Mahindra; its rear pan was largely broken from its frame and sagging on its front right corner. After the loss of the tailgate, there were a series of new clanging noises as the Mahindra bounced along the Caracol road and it was clear that something needed to be done. So, on Friday the vehicle was driven out to Belmopan where it was welded back together and seemed to be quite solid; but, when it returned to Caracol on Saturday, the welded tailgate had partially come back off; it is now strapped back onto the pan with strong cables. The vehicle only needs to make it back out to the main road one more time this field season.
On Saturday morning at 6:30 AM (coming on a redeye from Los Angeles), Diane also arrived to help end the field season. She will preliminarily analyze the human bone and help with a variety of tasks over the course of this next (final) week.