New Site Update!

Hi all!

As promised (albeit slightly delayed…) we have an update on a new find at San Pedro de Aguacatepeque!

Late last week, Walter G. a farm worker at the site who has helped us excavate, mentioned the location of a site (an old church to be exact) located to the Southwest of where we have been working. We had heard similar information back in 2010 about the component of the site we have focused on, and a similar note is mentioned in Eugenia Robinson’s 1990 survey of the site (Robinson 1990), so this seemed as though it might be a retelling with slightly different spatial information. Nevertheless, we decided to go take a peek during lunch, in case we found another site component to sample (mainly for pollen, in the hopes of hitting a part of the site that was used for different activities, i.e gardens, groves, orchards, maize plots, etc).

We looked around the area indicated by Walter, and while we found some colonial surface scatter it was not unlike that found at lower elevations around the site, likely carried down by the intense washes that happen during the rainy season. We did look around a bit more, just in case, and one of the project archaeologists (Kike Fernandez) noticed a rather prominent concentration of whole and broken brick fragments on a nearby rise.


Now, we have recovered brick before over at the main component of the site, and even some roof tiles (tejas) but we have never found such large pieces of structural debris anywhere! We quickly decided to sample this area in the short time available to us (we plan on shutting down excavations around the 20-23 of December) in order to get an idea of what exactly is at this part of the site, and what time period it dates too. At the same time we noticed the remains of what seems to be a pyroclastic flow or lahar leading directly to the location of this new site.

Outcrops of pyroclastic flow/lahar with large boulders present just off-camera to the left at the leading edge of this deposit/flow.

Considering the documentary claims that the site was destroyed by eruptions from the Volcan de Fuego, could we be seeing the remains of a part of the site that was directly impacted???

Starting on Monday of last week, a project volunteer (Louise, a Brazilian student in archaeology and history studying in Spain) worked with Angel Mario G., (one of our local community archaeology interns and local coffee farm worker) to open up some exploratory test pits in this area, in the hopes of finding some sort of remains.

Imagine our surprise (considering the lack of cultural features encountered to date at the main site component) when Louise and Angel Mario called us over on Wednesday afternoon with this brick floor/patio feature exposed!

Brick Floor/Patio present in 2x1m Test Unit 18

While this find was quite exciting, we were a little disheartened at the lack of cultural material found above or in association with this feature (Feature 15, officially). Literally nothing else was found, except for lots and lots of brick fragments and some very non-diagnostic ceramic sherds in the top soil strata. Basically, we had nothing to date this feature with (although we asked the farm owner andĀ administratorĀ and they were able to confirm that no modern buildings were present at this site (since at least the mid 20th century. We have a few leads, mainly Kathleen Deagan’s (1987) work with bricks sizes and their correlation to date ranges in the Spanish Americas. Based on the dimensions provided by Deagan, the bricks may date to the 16th century, a finding that would point to the likelihood that this second site may actually be the 1582 town portion of SPA that was destroyed by an eruption! However, as Deagan rightly points out, dating by brick sizes is a very very wobbly endeavor, as the variation in brick sizes (due to their local, variable manufacture) may be so large within time periods that no clear-cut pattern can be deduced.

We decided to open another test unit, about 3 meters to the North of Test Unit 18, to see if we would find more of the brick floor/patio or possibly the remains of a structure associated with it. We found more of the same, namely a (better preserved) brick floor, with little associated material culture (although we DID get some carbon and floatation samples from off the surface!). See below for one of our first attempts at photogrammetry using Autodesk123D Catch Beta software, showing Feature 15 Brick Floor in Test Unit 19. After mapping this floor, we turned to our remaining option: dig more to figure out what exactly we are looking at!

That about gets us to this week: we have new project members coming on board (Eduardo, a project archaeologist) while Kike and Louise have left to start school for the spring/winter semester. Our goal this week is to try and sink 1 or 2 more test units in the second site location in order to find the extent of this patio, diagnostic material culture in association and/or the remains of the structure that likely abutted this patio. We have already set out Test Unit 20 (about 10m East if Test Unit 19) in an area where both bricks and roof tile fragments are found on the surface, in the hopes of hitting other structural remains. More updates coming this week as we explore this part of the site!

Thanks for reading and more soon!


Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to New Site Update!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *