Reconstructed pottery in lab where work goes on.

Array of excavated pottery at Blue Creek lab.

Among the excavated items that form a large body of the pottery being studied from digging at Blue Creek, Belize, are the lip-to-lip vessels that occur in many of the temples now explored. These have revealed customs that played a part in the Maya society which ongoing archaeological science is ferreting out with its examination of the occurrence and content of the jars.

Intricate analysis of the vessels has been underway at the digs where I worked this July, and the content showed much about what the Maya celebrated and reverenced.  A published scientific article on the studies analyzes the contents, the nature of the offerings, and what concepts are embodied in the formation of the vessels which contain elements of sea at the bottom, earth in the middle, and sky in the upper portion.  It is scholarly in tone, and its content gives exciting views into the celebratory offering itself. The excerpt was difficult to transfer here, and at the end it is disjointed because of the impossibility of extracting whole sentences from the report, which itself you may want to read through.

Preclassic and Classic Maya peoples commonly placed dedicatory caches within the construction fill, commonly in the front of the building along the medial axis.  Maya archaeologists have long understood that such caches aided in dating construction events due to their primary context. Further, Maya archaeologists also have long understood that these caches represent the material residue of important dedication ceremonies [57]. An early examination of such caches was William Coe’s analysis of caches from the site of Piedras Negras [19]. Given the recent expansion of our understanding of Maya writing and religion, specifically in terms of how religious and cosmological concepts are embedded in architecture and site planning [1,44], attention has been turned to grappling with the meaning of these caches. Importantly, such caching events must be placed into the ritual context. The cache is not the event of interest, rather it is the ritual. The cache is simply our only existing material remains of the ritual.

(snip)

Maya archaeologists have long understood that such caches aided in dating construction events due to their primary context. Further, Maya archaeologists also have long understood that these caches represent the material residue of important dedication ceremonies [57]. An early examination of such caches was William Coe’s analysis of caches from the site of Piedras Negras [19]. Given the recent expansion of our understanding of Maya writing and religion, specifically in terms of how religious and cosmological concepts are embedded in architecture and site planning [1,44], attention has been turned to grappling with the meaning of these caches. Importantly, such caching events must be placed into the ritual context. The cache is not the event of interest, rather it is the ritual. The cache is simply our only existing material remains of the ritual.

(snip)

Until now, Maya archaeologists have been very restricted in their ability to interpret the meaning of such caches.  While their function in building dedication seems clear, their symbolic purposes are more obscure…embedding of sacredness in public architecture.  ..actions that gave “physical expression to the pipeline between humans and their gods” [46] or reflections of the cosmos and the act of embedding sacredness to public space [17,24,54].

Each dig brings up more witness to the customs and culture of the ancient Maya that they inculcated into their structures and the way they were conducted.

Intensive study shows us more constantly about the culture that produced the fascinating structures of Maya sites, and gives meaning to the life we are learning more about through these efforts.  The work is difficult, and requires deep analysis and enriches our lives with knowledge and the means of acquiring it.

Worked flake with common rock, daily task is sorting and categorizing