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Saturday Art: Archaeological Dig in Belize

Mayan pyramid in Blue Creek Central square, restored to pre-excavation condition

Cabanas used by archaeological site diggers

As many of you know, I’m in Belize, at Blue Creek, the Maya Research Group facility, digging for Mayan information, relics, structure, and of course anything we can find.

Several members of FDL have asked me to describe a dig.   This one is different from the one last year in Pennsylvania.   We’re in the tropics, hearing howler monkeys and spider monkeys that swing high overhead, surrounded by rainforest and digging small hills that contain the remnants of Mayan pyramids.

We are using picks, shovels, trowels, pans to hold dirt, buckets, and lots of bandanas for the constant sweat.   Actually, it’s hotter in TX but the humidity here can be oppressive.

We are directed by archaeological faculty who’ve been digging in this area and can see the evidence of structure underneath, and we uncover rocks as structure while looking for the symmetrical forms that Mayans build, also picking up shards of pottery and flakes, the evidence of cut tools such as scrapers and drills.

Below you can see the outline emerging of the base of the pyramid we’re excavating, stone by stone dug from the hillock that’s formed over it through the years since it was last used.   Estimates of the end of Mayan temples, the height of their civilization, estimate that the last occupation was in @ 1000 A.D.   The pyramid below has been out of use except for the possible occasional pilgrimage since then, a little over a thousand years.  What we unearth has lain here for about that amount of time.

What we unearth is saved for laboratory analysis, and over the years of research here large numbers of historic material is catalogued and much of it stored, as display space is limited.

When an excavation is complete, the structure is studied and photographed, and returned to its original form as much as possible.

Base of post classical period pyramid, where I’ve been digging for several days

Flake (showing cut edges) below common quartz rock, unearthed July 2

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.