First Post of Highland Maya Archaeology Project Blog!

Hi all!

This is Guido Pezzarossi, I am a PhD student in archaeology at Stanford University and co-director of the Highland Maya Colonial Archaeology Project. I would like to welcome you all to the blog for our current project at the Kaqchikel Maya site of San Pedro de Aguacatepeque in Alotenango, Guatemala.

We are in the process of setting up the project website, where you will soon find detailed info on the project progress to date (mainly results of field work and ethnohistoric research conducted in 2010 at or on Aguacatepeque).

Currently, Luisa Escobar (the Guatemalan co-director for the project) and myself have been getting things in motion for the 2011-2012 field season. We are focusing on two important components at the moment:

Ground Penetrating Radar Survey!

Thanks to a Stanford University Community Engagement Grant awarded in 2010, we will be carrying out a large scale Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey of the Aguacatepeque this coming summer. We hope to identify remains of dwellings, structures and other archaeological features with the GPR survey, that will help us identify where to dig at the site in the fall of 2011. With the help of Nigel Crook of the Stanford University Geophysics Department, in 2010 we carried out a small test survey with GPR at the site. The local conditions appear to be optimal for GPR more than any of the other geophysical technique we tried out, and as a result we have decided to focus on this technique.

Ceramic Sourcing Pilot Study!

An important part of my dissertation research be a ceramic sourcing/elemental characterization study using a combination of portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) and Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA). Towards the end of June, I will be working with researchers at the UMass-Boston Fiske Center for Archaeological Research to carry out a pilot project using both of these techniques on material recovered during the 2010 excavations at Aguacatepeque. This study will mainly be a chance to layout and refine the procedures for the pXRF analysis. In addition, a small sample of the ceramic samples analyzed with pXRF will be sent off for INAA analysis in order to compare the results of each technique against one another (i.e. what kinds of groupings emerge with each analysis? Is their correspondence between the results of the two techniques? Is one providing clearer results?). In addition, the complimentary INAA portion of this study will allow us to compare our results to the enormous body of work Hector Neff has produced on elemental characterization of Maya ceramics and clay sources in the area near where Aguacatepeque is found in Guatemala.

Such excitement! So stay tuned for more regular updates in the coming weeks, thanks for reading!