Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back from Nicaragua

The Director of the National Museum, Edgar Espinoza, had asked us to give a talk about the results of our project on August 14th, in celebration of the anniversary of the Museum. We were, of course, delighted to do it, but since I was leaving on the 16th, this meant that I would have to leave the rental house in Chinandega on the 13th, move into a hotel for the night, and then leave for Managua early on the morning of the 14th. It wouldn't make a lot of sense for me to go to Managua on the 14th, return to Chinandega, and then go back to Managua on the 15th for my flight the next day. So, I started packing up and making a variety of final arrangements on the 12th, at the same time as we were working on the presentation for the talk. On the 13th, I shipped most of my stuff to the storage place up in Somotillo, cleaned the house, and said goodbye. On the morning of Friday, August 14th, Ramiro García and I left for Managua before 6:00 a.m., to make sure we would arrive in time to attend the first presentation at 9:00 am. We arranged for the students who had been working with us from the Fundación Chinandega 2001 to attend the talk at the Museum.

The talk was successful and well received. Afterwards, we raced over to INETER to collect some computer files before they closed. Then we ran another couple of errands and finally met the students for lunch at Pizza Hut. I must be overly sentimental; it was difficult to say goodbye because they were so sweet. Late in the afternoon, I go to my hotel and spent most of the next day sleeping.

The flight back on Sunday was fine, but Customs detained my box of soil samples even though I had a permit. I had to retrieve it from the Agricultural Inspection people the next day, and, I must say, they were very helpful.

This week, my first back in the office, was a huge string of meetings, many of which I had postponed during my absence.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Progress in Chinandega

Well, we´ve wrapped up most of our excavations now. We did some prospection out on the slopes of the Volcano Coseguina today, but didn´t find anything. It was fun, though, because we took along the archaeology students from the school we´ve been working with in town.

In the past couple of days, we discovered some interesting facts about the fantastically rich site we excavated near Villa Nueva. Dr. Timothy Beach who is helping us to understand our taphonomy and site formation processes discovered a buried soil at the base of the depositional sequence at the site. I never would have seen it because it didn´t look much like a buried A horizon. We also discovered in the lab that the ceramics in the lower levels are in fact earlier--there are in fact resist decorated ceramics related to Usulutan wares in the lower levels. In fact, I excavated one vessel that was associated with a comal, a very unusual vessel form in Nicaragua. As usual, the most interesting discoveries come in the lab, although I did enjoy excavating the comal nestled in the Usulutan vessel.

We´re also finding a nmber of new types that will require new type names and we´re considering creating some new phase names for the area. The project is really coming together nicely.

Here´s a random picture of a site we found in the Estero Real a few days ago. Look at the density of ceramics on the surface. The site is a little island in the swamp. It is basically composed of a pile of sherds.

Hasta luegito.