Thursday, December 20, 2007

This is the End…

Maybe not my only friend, but not an unwelcome one.

Well it has been a long season, 24 weeks to be precise. After years of planning and scheming the map of Xtobo has been completed, and 32 test pits have been excavated. There have been fun days, hot days, wet days, boring days, dusty days, painful days, and plain and simple hard days, but the goals of the year have been met. What comes next is the analysis of the artifacts collected at Xtobo, then general data analysis from the whole project to figure out what it all means. Finally will be the writing of the dissertation. So maybe it’s not really the end, but it is a landmark.

Most importantly, I would not be where I am today without the immense assistance of a number of people. Dan Griffin, despite being frequently lampooned in this blog, has been of more assistance than I can really qualify. Despite all the effort that has gone into this season, I have little doubt that Dan would be ready and waiting to go to the field every morning for many years to come, before he would call it quits. Let us not forget Scott Johnson, too. Scott actually showed up pre-permit letter, and very patiently waited with me for that day when we’d get our chance. He very much helped the season get off to a roaring start. Emit Luty joined us mid-season, catching the tail end of the mapping and the beginnings of the excavations. With out Emit’s help we might still be mapping those crazy sacbes. And certainly not least, I want to thank the boys from Ucu. Something tells me they won’t be reading this, but I certainly would not be here today without all of their immense help. Where else can you find someone who will go out and chop down a forest all day with a machete and still giggle on the truck ride home?

And one more thank you to all of you who have read along through out the season. Your comments and emails have provided much cheer.

This will be the end of the blog for this season. There will inevitably be another season at Xtobo, despite all that was accomplished this year there is still much more to do, and those exploits just may find there way to this page in the future. Until then, I wish you all the best of luck and a happy holiday season. As for myself, I am now off to California to spend a happy few days with the four and a half members of my immediate family!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Extra Innings, With No Steroids Required

So things are beginning to wind down for good old PAX (Proyecto Arqueologico de Xtobo). Next week will be our final official week of field work. This week however, has seen the completion of the absolutely necessary test pits, and we have moved into bonus territory. Unfortunately for the boys from Ucu, my interests do not seem to align with theirs. You see they seem to enjoy it when we dig pits next to the larger structures, as those pits produce large numbers of artifacts. I however keep asking them to dig by the little house mounds, which produce very little in the way of artifacts. From a sampling prospective there are simply more small house mounds, and therefore it is important for us to test more of them then the other types. From a social studies standpoint, I’m well aware that the inhabitants of the large structures had access to more resources, and I’m much more interested in affirming just how much the people of the smaller residences had access to. I try to explain this to my boys, but every time I bring them up to yet another small little mound they like to point out the other larger mounds in the area.

With the end in mind, I would like to thank all of you who have kept up with the trials and tribulations of my recent life as an archaeologist. It has not always been easy, and it has been very nice to know that people out there are interested in what has been happening. I will update you all on our final week in the field, but after that Mixtu’ux will be shutting down until another field season arises. There will still be plenty of work at hand, but it will be slightly less interesting lab work. I mean I’m sure you would all love hearing about how I spend all day staring at little bits of pottery, but I will restrain myself.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

This Way to Xtobo

The test pit program at Xtobo has resumed its rapid pace, making it look feasible that there will be time for at least four to five extra pits before we shut down for the year. Unfortunately many of the pits excavated this week came up very low in terms of total artifacts found, but frequently the lack of an object can still yield information. If the data consistently shows that the small houses of Xtobo had little to no pottery, this may allow a very interesting insight into the material means of the site’s inhabitants, although it does make for slightly less exciting excavations.

Despite this lack of pottery I’m happy to report that Xtobo is garnering some attention from the archaeological community. On Friday we received a somewhat unexpected visit from a group of Mexican archaeologists, two of whom I’ve had the pleasure to work with. I had been hoping to attract them out for a visit for sometime, but was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen. They were all quite impressed by the many features of Xtobo, not least of all by her alluring and mysterious sacbe plaza. Opinion is steadily growing that this feature may represent an ancient market place, a theory which I do not find unpalatable, but that I had resigned myself to not being able to test this year. However, a second wave of interest in Xtobo may change that. Another group of archaeologists who are currently studying market places at ancient Maya sites has expressed interest in coming to Xtobo to also test the site. All of the details have not been smoothed out just yet, but nevertheless it is exciting to see others begin to take interest in the site.

Xtobo and I have come to an agreement however. Regardless of how famous she becomes, she promises me that she will not change. She will still treat me with same tender care which she has always shown me, a.k.a. “knock you on your behind heat,” excessively thorny plants, and all manner of biting and stinging insects. Ah Love!!!