You Better Belize It! I'm Back!
So now I am back from the Belize Archaeology Field School. What a trip!!! I had a great time really getting into the field work experience and talking archaeology with some very interesting people. Before the field school...I went to Tikal and Copan, two of the largest and most important Mayan sites in central America. I also traveled to Antigua and Guatemala City. Antigua was a BEAUTIFUL Spanish Colonial city surrounded by awe inspiring volcanoes.
So....now on to more exciting things. During the field school, I inadvertently made a very incredible discovery. Here is the story:
Last year, the site director I worked for named Maria Martinez was working in a site called La Milpa. I love this site. It is a large Mayan site that is covered with jungle and is visited daily by Howler and Spider monkeys. Maria is working in a plaza called plaza 88. In the middle of this plaza, she had a 4 meter pit dug straight down to see if she could find the first occupation level of this site. While a worker was down there, he bumped the wall and a few rocks fell out of the profile of the unit he was in. When he looked at the hole the rocks fell out of.....it was a deep, dark, hole that seemed to go underground quite a way. After examining the hole, several people agreed that it was just a possible cavity in the limestone rock.
So this year....after we did a weeks worth of work, everyone wanted to go down in this pit to look in the hole that was found last year. I had to have my turn. When I got down there, I reached inside the hole to feel around. I noticed that I couldn't feel the ceiling or even see the ceiling. So I asked for someone to throw my digital camera down to me. I switched it to video and put the camera in the hole with a flashlight and pointed it up.
When I replayed the video, I saw a ROUND hole with a stone over it. It was a capstone. That is......a stone that had been carved to cover a hole for some reason or another. I showed the video to Maria and she couldn't believe it. A girl named Kelly also got down in the pit and took a video. After replaying hers, it looked like there certainly was a round hole there and it wasn't just light and shadow playing tricks on us.
So eventually, in the weeks to follow, the northern wall of the pit was taken down to about 2.5 meters and the capstone was removed. It left a hole about 45-50cm in diameter....just large enough to fit a person in. I was given the first opportunity to excavate inside the hole. There is a chamber inside that is nearly perfectly round and about 2 meters in diameter.
There were very large spiders inside as well called Scorpion Spiders. They are harmless but look very very strange. They are much larger than your hand.
In the days to follow I was moving a lot of dirt out of the chamber underground. Eventually, one of the buckets I handed to someone contained a finger bone. It was thought to be a monkey bone, but after more bones showed up and the project osteologist (Julie Sauls) was questioned she agreed that the bones were human and wanted to see them for herself. The first bone I found was a sternum. Later other bones were found by Angeliki, a Greek grad-student that ended up helping me out with her excavation and bone experience. The bones were anywhere from 900-1500 years old and thought to be from the late pre-classic Mayan era.
I had to leave before all of the excavation was carried out, but I was asked if I would be interested in writing a field report, which I am looking forward to doing. It was a very interesting experience and something that I will never forget. This last picture was taken the last day of digging. The entrance to the chamber is behind me.