Cooking or Sacrificing? – What the Charcoal in Unit B1/B3-3 Can Tell Us

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charcoal in the plaza between pyramids B1 and B3 about a meter high. This is the charcoal in its original position, before it was taken to a floating test.

“The charcoal was taken to the lab by Dr. Jaime Awe so they can conduct a floating test.” – Doug Tilden

The charcoal that Doug and his team of excavators found in their unit was 10cm in depth and 30cm wide. Nothing could be concluded by just looking at it so Dr. Jaime Awe conducted a floating test.

Just what is a floating test?

A floating test is when you put a fine soil or charcoal in water so the seeds or bones floats while the dirt or charcoal settles in the bottom. From the floating test we will find out if there was any animal bone in the charcoal, by this we will get a better idea of the human activities that happened where the charcoal pit was.

“It's so amazing to me that you can throw some 1,000+ year old charcoal into some fluid and be able to get a glimpse into what the Maya were doing at the site so many generations ago.  I live right near the site.  I wonder if it could have been my great, great, great (add 44 more greats here!) grandfather who left the charcoal behind.  Was he cooking meat for his family – or maybe making an offering to the Gods?  Did our family benefit from that offering?  This is another thing I love about archaeology…it's a really cool window to the past. Without archaeology, I would never know a thing about how my ancestors lived so many years ago.” – Mario Villeda

Post by 16 year-old Sarah Echols and 17 year-old Mario Villeda who are part of the teenage excavation team and lives in San Ignacio, Belize; some pics by Veronica Burkhart and Sarah Echols

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Posted on: July 18, 2012 | Categories: AFAR, Archaeology, Belize, Education, Service Learning US & Belize teens


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