Sunday, June 26, 2016

New site! And a visit to an old one

We have had a guest from the University of Leiden staying with us, and she was interested in seeing some of our salt-making sites. I have wanted to re-visit Rubén Darío since I realized that the pottery we surface-collected there was so very different from anything else we had seen in our collections.

Because Rubén Darío is located near many of the salt-making sites (at first, we assumed it was one), I thought we could kill two birds with one stone, visiting Rubén Darío and then moving along to the salt-making sites.

Rubén Darío was as buggy as ever, not surprisingly, especially since it has been raining frequently. The mosquitoes were terrible even though we were well-armed with repellent. One stung me on the lip so viciously that it felt like a bee or a wasp, and I suppose that it is possible it was.

Not content with examining the pottery scattered on the near side of the stream, we crossed over on a fallen tree, and our guide took us to see more material on the far side. I've been over to the far side in the past, and so I knew there were sherds on the other bank, but I had never explored over there. Our guide, Davíd, took us to see a pile of stone and earth full of sherds.

Pile of rocks, dirt,and sherds
I thought it might be a fragment of a mound, but he explained that it was probably a push-pile from when the dug the canal. Canal? I asked. He said, oh, yeah, that stream is a canal that was excavated to drain the pastures further inland. He explained that it was excavated a long time ago, before he was born. I knew the stream seemed peculiar--unnaturally straight and deep, with vertical walls--but I didn't know it was artificial. That helps to explain why the stratigraphy seemed so strange. It's possible that the site was deeply buried before the canal excavation cut through it. We'll need to explore that possibility. Davíd then walked a little further downstream (toward the Estero Real) and up onto slightly higher ground and showed us more patches of sherds, as well as what might have been the remains of a couple of structures on top of the hill.

Possible structure

Then we went to another nearby site that we had walked past very briefly the year before. We had thought it might be another salt-making site, and indeed, on this visit, we looked more closely at the pottery and decided it was probably briquetage.

We also noted that the mound at the site, although fragmentary, was larger than I remembered. I paced off 34 m before I got to the recent road cut that damaged it. It is also more than 2.5 m high, possibly 3 m or even more. I decided we should probably name the site Nolasco.

Mound at Nolasco. Note the large size of the stones in the retaining wall.

We visited another site or two that day. Overall, it was a good day in the field, despite the heat and the bugs.

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