The final week of the season saw all of the staff come together as a unit to finish the laboratory work and recording to properly close the field season. Diane completed the preliminary skeletal analysis of all of the deposits recovered from the various excavations. Adrian and Roxayn photographed all of the significant artifactual materials that were recovered during the field season. Cataloguing and detailed drawing of materials went on through Wednesday by the remainder of the staff. Then, all of the records and photographs were duplicated for the Institute of Archaeology, and the special deposit artifacts and unusual finds (along with catalogue cards and detailed drawings) were packed up and prepared for transfer to the Institute of Archaeology. An export list of samples for DNA and C14 analysis was also prepared and will be picked up in June at the Belize Archaeology Symposium. All of the SD artifacts and records went out to the Institute in Belmopan with Melissa in the red Toyota (with its new battery) on Thursday in the late morning.
Camp and laboratory repair also continued for most of the week through the auspices of the five remaining work crew. New shelving for artifact storage was installed in Lab 2 and various beams were replaced in both labs to make sure that the buildings would survive for another field season. On Tuesday, wind blew off the aluminum capping of Hut 1, so all of the hut roofs were also fixed. The showers were dismantled on Thursday shortly after noon and the tarps were folded and stored. Tables were moved into Lab 2 during Thursday afternoon; most of the storage coolers were moved down to the caretaker’s camp for more permanent storage until next year. After a dinner of fried chicken, the final packing of the kitchen went on by the three cooks until just after 8 PM Thursday night. The stoves and the freezer were moved down to storage as were the remaining kitchen items. Finally, around 8:30 PM on Thursday we ignited the traditional bonfire and the staff relaxed before going to bed.
On Friday the workmen were up and bringing things to the laboratory at 2:30 AM in the morning, largely aided by a full moon. All of the staff members were up by 4 AM packing up their bedding and securing their luggage. The buildings were also stripped of all electrical cords and lights for more permanent storage (otherwise these would “disappear” in the off season) and the generator was also transported down to the caretakers. Finally, the new satellite dish was dismantled and stored with the modem going to Belmopan. All of the vehicles with everyone either in or on them (there was a large flatbed truck) left camp by 5 AM in the morning.
We arrived at the San Ignacio Hotel just in time for breakfast at 7 AM, but needed to wait for guests to check out before we could access our rooms. The hotel serves as the jumping off point for all of the staff returning to the States or for remaining in Belize or traveling. We also held our traditional end-of-season lunch with the IOA in the early afternoon at the hotel. The lunch carried through the afternoon and by the early evening everyone was so tired that they most went to bed early (although a few went into town for dinner). The bulk of the staff left the hotel at 7 AM on Saturday in a shuttle for the airport and nearly everyone had flown out of Belize by 4 PM that day. Diane and I returned to Las Vegas shortly before midnight. And, so ended the 35th field season of the Caracol Archaeological Project; overall, it was a great season with a great crew and very interesting excavations. The results of this field season will help us better understand Caracol’s Preclassic Period, its Classic Period markets, and its social composition.