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Archaeological Investigations in Belize, Central America- 2003, 2004

BEMEP- Online Field Journal, Summer 2004  

13 June, 2004 

Field update-
Sunday afternoon at the Martz Farm.  Things are winding down all around.  The field school has ended and all of the students have left.  It is a long weekend for the staff, which makes it nice and quiet out here.  Tracy is wrapping up today and packing for her return trip tomorrow.   We spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the site of Baking Pot.  This site is located west of the town of Cayo about a mile off the Western highway.  Baking Pot is very different topographically and geologically from both Pusilhá and Minanahá, factors which make it archaeologically different as well.  Both of the former sites are located on hilly, jungle covered terrain with exposed or near surface limestone everywhere.  Baking pot is located on the bank of the Belize River, on an alluvial plain.  There is no immediate sign of any exposed bedrock at the site.  The ruins are situated among cultivated fields and pastureland belonging to the Belizean government agricultural station known as Central Farms.  Due to these factors mounds are easily visible for hundreds of meters in all directions.   We chose a field that had about 6 visible mounds that were well spaced.  We were able to place a 100 meter by 100 meter grid in the field between 3 of the mounds.  Two mounds fell within our survey grid.  This area we labeled Baking Pot Operation 1, or B-OP1.   

B-OP1 survey grid being laid out. View is along eastern edge of grid looking north. 

Due to the limited amount of time we had at the site, we were only able to collect two other, smaller survey grids.  One of the grids, B-OP3 was a 6 meter by 30 meter rectangle running along the northernmost range structure in Plaza II of the site core.  We chose this location based on a possible anomaly we located in approximately the same location in Minanhá’s Group S plaza, or BEMEP M-OP3 (see conductivity map below).   

Image of B-OP3 in Baking Pot Group II plaza.  Pin flags are visible in foreground of photo

The final survey grid at Baking Pot measured 15 meters by 35 meters and was situated perpendicular to the causeway, or ‘sacbe” in Mayan, connecting Groups I and II.   An important point of note about or survey grids at baking Pot is that they will all be tied in to the sub-centimeter mapping at the site done by Drs. William Poe and Sue Hays.  Using their maps, we will be able to overlay our survey grid and place it accurately within the topographic and archaeological maps of the site.  

Dr. William Poe with his GPS mapping equipment in the field at Baking Pot.

 In the coming week I will finish mapping at Minanhá grids M-OP2 and M-OP6, and map the plaza survey grids M-OP3 and M-OP4.  At the end of the week I will do core sampling transects across survey grids M-OP1, M-OP2, and M-OP6 in order to establish a solid knowledge of the geology and to test a number of possible anomalies that we have pinpointed in our collected data.  In grids M-OP2 and M-OP6 we have noticed concentrations of ceramics in various areas.  I will do surface collections of these artifacts in order to date them and give us an idea of the final occupation or use of those areas.  The staff at Baking Pot have agreed to do shovel tests for us on anomalies that we have located in the data collected there.    Finally, once we collect the data we use two different pieces of software to process it and create conductivity maps.  Below is an example of a conductivity map from Minanhá’s Group S plaza, or BEMEP M-OP3.  The anomaly of interest in this grid is the high conductivity, red semi-circle located at 20/15, that is, 20 meters to the east, across the bottom, and 15 meters to the north, or up using the scale on the left.  This type of signature could be a trash pit, or in this case as it is in a plaza at the base of  a structure, a ritual cache. 


We seem to have misplaced the update from 05 June.  If anyone who has been following our progress for some reason has the update from 05 June stored digitally, it would be much appreciated if you could e-mail it to me!

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