• Name: Paul McLerran
  • Locations:Virginia, United States
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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Dig Spotlight: Exploring Mayan Origins in Guatemala

One site holds promise for answering questions about the origins of ancient Mayan civilization. Perched between the pacific coast and a chain of volcanoes in western Guatemala, the largely unexcavated site of Chocola is revealing evidence that a large Mayan city thrived here in Preclassic times long before the great dynasties of Tikal, Palenque, and Copan made their debut. Monumental sculpture, architecture, and a sophisticated hydraulic system have already been discovered, but what makes the site significant is its location, date, and cultural remains which have implications for the seminal developments that led to the rise of the classic period Mayans. To be sure, the research here will be key to a better understanding of the origins of this great mesoamerican civilization.

Dr. Jonathan Kaplan of the University of Mexico and Dr. Juan Antonio Valdez of the University of San Carlos, Guatemala, will be leading a team consisting of Earthwatch volunteers this summer to find answers. Volunteers will survey, map, excavate, and do lab and archival work. They will also have the opportunity to visit picturesque Lago de Atitlan and colorful local markets. The season begins May 24th and ends August 23rd, but it is divided into 2-week sessions or "teams" from which participants may choose.

If you are interested in reading more about this opportunity, go
here for details.


At 3:01 PM, Blogger Patrick Ward said...

Fascinating entry Paul. The Mayan civilization had some astounding systems of organization that continue to be of interest. I am excited and pleased to find another archaeology blog, and I'm putting you on my list of favorites; you'll be seeing more of me in the future!

I actually considered going on a dig like this (I'm not sure if it was the same one or not), but the costs proved prohibitive. For now I'm content to sit back and see what discoveries are made at this and other sites.


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