Tuesday, July 4, 2017

What We're Doing Here

This summer is a return to my dissertation field site, Buen Suceso. For those new to the blog (or who don't feel like reading the back posts), Buen Suceso is the site of an ancient village, belonging to the Valdivia culture. The site dates to around 2000 BC, which places it in the Late Valdivia period. Valdivia is the earliest agricultural, sedentary, and pottery producing culture in the region¹. It is also the period when social hierarchies first developed. Buen Suceso is unique in that the people who lived here seem to have rejected those hierarchical developments, and instead created a community that was more expressly egalitarian².

We have several specific, and hopefully attainable goals for this summer:

  1. Create a topographic map of the site. I did this as a grad student, but was relying on an old Brunton compass, a telescoping level that eventually had a stick taped to the top of it to get sufficient height, and my somewhat iffy trigonometry. This time we're using a Total Station with millimeter accuracy to more closely map the local terrain. 
    The family that surveys together stays together.
  2. Locate and excavate ancient houses. We want to know if the egalitarian ethos at the site was something that existed just in communal spaces, or if it was something expressed within and between households as well. To do that we need to identify multiple houses so that we can compare them. We're starting by digging test pits in three areas of the site, so that we can get a sense of what lies below the surface. Once we see what those turn up we'll select a few additional areas for expanded excavation. 
    Luis and Robert digging a test pit.
  3. Work with the local community. This field season is the first of two years funded by Fulbright. Next year will focus on heritage workshops and including the archaeology in the tourist resources that the local community, Dos Mangas, has to offer. To do that well, though, requires thought and planning, so I'm starting that conversation with the community this year. 
    At the monthly community meeting, presenting a UTRGV pennant in friendship.

We'll keep you posted on the progress of these goals as the summer goes along.

¹ For the more technical among my readers, I'm not ignoring the San Pedro tradition but I am simplifying for my audience.
² If you're curious to know more about why I say this, check out my dissertation or wait a bit longer for the forthcoming article.

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