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Archaeological Investigations in Belize, Central America- 2003, 2004

BEMEP- Online Field Journal, Summer 2004  

04 April 2004

Preparations are almost complete and the departure date has been set for next Saturday, April 10th.  My route will take me through Santa Fe and Roswell and then into Texas.  I will cross the border in Del Rio, Texas the following Tuesday or Wednesday.    I have chosen Del Rio as it seems like a relatively small border crossing.  I hope that it goes quickly and I can make it to Saltillo or further on the first day of travel in Mexico.  From Saltillo I will head to the coast and travel down to Campeche and across the Yucatan to the Sian Káan Biosphere Reserve.  I plan to spend a few days there before heading on to Belize.   Tracy and I have tested all the equipment and nearly everything is packed and ready to go.  We set up the Paha Que tent (which really is amazing), hooked up the solar system, ran the laptop and printer off of it, tested the radios, and tried out our new sighting compass for setting up grids.  Everything worked well and seems to be in order. There are just a few last minute items to take care of this week and then the field season begins.   

From our field test day at the Boulder Valley School.


13 March, 2004

We received word last week that the Prehistoric Society of London has awarded us another grant for the 2004 field season.  Again we are very grateful for their support of our project.  We presented our project to an audience of archaeologists at the Henderson Museum at CU on Thursday night.  That is the last scheduled presentation until the fall, after we return from Belize and  have analysed the season’s data. We have received pro deals from Mountainsmith (for backpacks) and Ex Officio (clothing).  This means being able to purchase their products at reduced prices.  Pelican, Inc. has graciously donated a waterproof briefcase to the project.  This will protect my laptop, which will store the project data, from the rains that are sure to come while we are in the field.  The support of these companies is greatly appreciated.  Every donation, whether in the form of necessary gear, monetary support, or as a pro deal helps make our project a reality.  We have chosen to ask for support from these companies because we find their products to be the best.  Please visit the web pages of these companies- there are links to them on our “Acknowledgements” page.  General  preparations continue for the field season.  Tracy has purchased her airline ticket.  We will have exactly 3 weeks together in Belize with the EM38.  Arrangements are being finalised for the rental of the EM38 and data recorder.    We are working on our field procedures in order to maximise our time in the field- prior to Tracy’s arrival I, along with the local workers, will need to clear, lay out and field map our survey grids.  In this way, upon tracy’s arrival, we can immediatley begin collecting data with the EM38 and commence with ground truth excavations within a few days.  It is our plan to work the entire 3 weeks that Tracy is in Belize.        


21 February, 2004  
First posting
Preparations are under way for the field season.  We have begun getting equipment together and preparing the Landcruiser for the drive.  I have added a second battery to the Landcruiser, an Optima Yellow Top deep cycle, to be used as storage for the solar system.  As there is no electricity at the village of Pusilhá, nor at the Martz Farm where we will be staying while working at Minanhá, we have to provide our own power for our computers.  The battery will be charged by a 32 watt marine solar panel that can be lashed to the roof of the vehicle during the day.  It will provide enough power for running the laptop to download, process and backup data, to print maps,  and run lights for our work in the evenings.   Paha Qué, Inc. has graciously donated one of their Temscal Creek tents to us for use as our field lab.  You can see the tent at the Paha Qué web site.  We will be dry and bug-free as we do our nightly work thanks to them!  As we continue to plan and refine our fieldwork procedures, we are coming up with new ideas to facilitate data collection.  During her pilot study at Chau Hiix, Tracy used ropes with knots tied every 5 meters as guides for placement of fiducial markers in the dataset.  (This is done by physically pressing a button while crossing over the marker and is used to align the data during processing.)  This was a tedious process as it required at least 2 people moving the ropes ahead of the person collecting data with the EMI instrument.  As our grids will be approximately 100 by 150 meters in size at their largest, the ropes become even more troublesome to move.  We are considering using bright orange carpenters chalk to place a mark on the ground at 5 meter intervals.  This method should work as long as their is no rain.  We will have ropes as a backup in the event that the ground it too wet and the chalk does not show up.   As we will not know how much excavation will be necessary until we begin viewing the processed data in the field, we are planning for various methods of ground truthing.  Ground truth excavations will consist of corer tests, shovel tests, ½ by ½ meter test units, and if time allows and findings deem necessary, 1 by 1 meter test units.  At a minimum, to conifrm the presence of cultural features, we will take corer samples of anomalies.  We have purchased a corer that extracts a sample 13/16 by 15 inches in size with a maximum depth of about 2 meters.               



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