Friday, March 9, 2007

We finally found some houses to excavate

Since the main goal of this project is to excavate houses at Calixtlahuaca, it was frustrating when we did not locate any houses in the first few weeks of fieldwork. But all of a sudden, we are working on two large and complex structures. The landowner will soon plant the field containing the houses, and in order to get his permission to dig I had to promise to be done and backfilled by March 20. This does not give us much time, and the architectural remains just keep going (typically under the back dirt pile. This is one clause of Murphy’s Law of excavation; another deals with important finds made at the end of the field season).

The field is on a gentle slope below the site museum at the base of Cerro Tenismo. In the 2006 survey we noticed a heavy concentration of artifacts in the field. There are several areas that look like they may have been artificially leveled off. We placed a trench in the middle of two of these and immediately hit architectural remains. The lower area (unit 309) has a large pavement of nicely cut stones (see the photo), with several rooms or features on the upslope side. One room (being cleared on the left side of the photo) has a nice floor of rectangular stones and walls of thin cut stones. To the right of this is a rectangular area covered with rough stone rubble. This may be the remains of walls; we haven’t removed the stones yet to look for a floor or other features. The pavement and some walls continue to the right under the backdirt pile.

The upper area (unit 307) also has a rectangular area of stone rubble, with a nice double-row foundation wall on the left and some large paving stones (probably an exterior patio) on the right (see photo). This afternoon we uncovered some rough walls near the top of the photo, lower in elevation that the pavement; perhaps these are the remains of an earlier structure.

It is still too early to plot the full extents of these structures. We hope we can uncover their entire areas, draw and photograph everything, and also locate and excavate some household trash deposits associated with each one—all before we have to stop on March 20. We have another reason to complete excavation by that date. On March 21 (the spring equinox) there will be festival at Calixtlahuaca that combines new age mysticism with a celebration of indigenous peoples of the State of Mexico (this seems an unlikely pairing to me). Thousands of visitors are expected, and we don’t want to have open excavations near the center of the site.

No comments: