Surface Collection

A 100% surface collection was carried out over the portion of the site where colonial artifacts were noted on the surface and where potential archaeological features were identified.  In total, an area of 1.7 hectares was surveyed in 1.5 meter transects that corresponded with the rows of coffee plants at the site (however artifacts were identified on the surface over at least 3.5 hectares).

Figure 1: IKONOS Satellite Image showing all surface collection points at SPA.

Only diagnostic material was collected, i.e. rim sherds, bases, and decorated or finished sherds that can be attributed to a specific time period or to a region/cultural entity.  When diagnostic material was encountered, a GPS point (accurate to ~1m) was recorded at that position and all material in a 1 meter radius to that point was collected and logged as a single sequentially numbered Surface Collection point.

The surface collection focused on a part of the site that contains numerous mounds and a possible plaza , and a flattened portion of the site that contained many large flat stones likely used as construction materials, as well as a high concentration of colonial material culture (see Figure 1,2).

Figure 2: Topo map of site with Colonial Artifacts Surface finds (point size represents number of colonial artifacts recovered at find spot).

A preliminary analysis of artifacts was carried out on the artifacts collected at each location, with the goal of determining if any discrete concentrations of colonial material culture (identified by vessel wares, glazing and other indicators of colonial material culture) could be identified that may indicate the location of the colonial period occupation of the site and differentiate it from earlier occupations. Figure 2 shows clear concentrations of colonial material on the surface in and around the flattened area of the site that contains structural debris.  As a result of this observation, the proceeding field work phases centered on this area of the site, and radiated out from it.  Preliminary analysis has also identified the area to the North of the site, where the mounds are located, as having concentrations of Classic period material culture, thus implying their origin in this time period.

The artifacts collected on the surface are undergoing a detailed analysis that will aid (and be aided by) the analysis and interpretation of excavated material culture.  However, preliminary results support Robinson’s (1990) findings of Late Classic (800-900AD), Post Classic (1000-1500AD) and Colonial period (1500-1800AD) material culture present on the surface of Aguacatepeque.  The analysis of excavated material will help confirm whether the occupation at the site was indeed continuous from the Classic to Colonial periods, as well as provide a more concrete basis for dating material collected on the surface due to their stratigraphic associations.

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