Latest updates, as of April 2018
For the last 4 years this blog has gone silent and it is a shame. I am finally coming around to it and in it I want to talk about why the long gap in blog coverage. Basically, I thought I could do it all, have a baby, go to the field 40 days after having said baby, run a National Science Foundation funded archaeological project, switch academic jobs, move across the country (US), all while publishing, teaching excellent engaging courses, AND blogging about it!!! Obviously I was in over my head and something had to be let go. It was the blog as all other things had to be maintained to keep our life (personal and professional) going and strong.
So what happened in the last 4 years since I last blogged about CJAP? The first field season of CJAP was really rough. We had an automobile accident due to some careless driving (unfortunately from someone in our crew), but thankfully no one was harmed. However, having NO field vehicle for a long time made things really complicated. As the crew pressed on focusing on the 2013 season excavations, I worked, along with my baby, on processing the artifacts coming out of our excavations. Needless to say things were going really slowly AND I was struggling with breastfeeding and lack of sleep. I only really made any sort of headway in the artifact analysis once my dear, highly knowledgable, and organized colleague Dra. Laura Stiver Walsh came to join our team that summer of 2013. Thanks to her we were able to process all of the 2013 season materials, getting us ready to write the necessary reports for Mexico’s National Council and then get the needed research permits for the following 2014 season. We have since published some of the results of our 2013 field season, which focused on an area of the site, near the hilltop that was the site of feasting (Pérez Rodríguez et al. 2017c).
The following 2014 season was great. In part, in large part, because my mother, Rosa María, came to live in a house full of archaeologists in Nochixtlán Oaxaca and she helped us care for our son Joaquín, while I now joined the ranks of the excavators up on Cerro Jazmín. By this time breastfeeding was going really well and all I had to do is carry my battery operated pump up to the site and take some time after my lunch break to pump. Everybody was very supportive and I will never forget some of the workers reminding us to not forget the icebox of milk that would go down, along with the day’s artifacts, on the burros we hired.
2014 was our most productive field season. At some point we had four excavation teams going on at the same time. I focused on the western mound of the monumental area of the site known as the Tres Cerritos (three little hills). This mound had been severely looted, nearly destroyed in the 1930s, but this allowed us to get the needed research permits to excavate a trench that completely bisected the mound from east to west. We also located the remains of a looted tomb and fortunately we were able to located (and date) a ceramic offering that had been deposited directly on top of the tomb. We also learned that the mound and this part of the site had received more attention and was the site of construction in the later part of the Ramos period (100 BC to AD 300) and that the mound seemed to face west to an open area where plowing and agriculture have impacted the archaeological deposits, but where I hope to continue explorations in the future.
While I worked at Tres Cerritos my colleagues Antonio Martinez Tuñon, Mariana Navarro Rosales, and Gabriela García Ayala focused on different terraces in different site sectors to learn about their function and the way of life of the Cerro Jazmín urbanites. Our first publication, which focuses on the household found on Terrace 131 just came out this year (Pérez Rodríguez et al. 2018). Currently, am working on analyzing all evidence of craft production found throughout the site.
In the 2014 season we also had a couple of local school groups visit our excavations, which was great as kids got to ask about what we actually do as archaeologists (there is a lot of misinformation out there about what we do) and they got to know about the past, the ancient ancient past, of their community, which is (unfortunately) something not covered in Mexican history courses and textbooks.
Our final field season took place in 2015, again with the help of my mother. Also, by then my son was old enough to enter a government-run day care in Nochixtlán. This was an excellent and affordable daycare and I will always be thankful of the great teachers and the excellent care, education, and healthy home cooked meals my son received at Carrusel Mágico. It is unfortunate that we did not have such affordable child care options when we got back to Albany, NY. Back to the project. In the 2015 project we excavated another agricultural terrace as to obtain data on another household in Cerro Jazmín. We also conducted some stratigraphic explorations at four different narrow terraces (less than 2 meters wide) to learn about their possible function, antiquity, and mode of construction. The final season also was devoted to finishing up all the needed in-field and in-lab artifact processing, data recording, and documentation.
Ricardo Higelín Ponce de León was there in all three field seasons and he trained a crew of local workers to process, document, and identify all human remains recovered.