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Sunday Food; Water at Work Sites (Archaeological, especially)

2:59 am in Art, Food by Ruth Calvo

Archaeology work site, IX’noha, Belize


Hot, dirty, work going on.

An unavoidable fact of increasing complexity is our need for water, a resource that is becoming more rare and more precious as population increases and spreads into areas where it is scarce.   Working in the tropics I had daily reminders, written and oral, to stay hydrated, and we took large containers of water with us every day into the fields.

A lecture given in the field instruction was to notice if we showed signs of dehydration, that include slurred speech, crabbiness, loss of balance, and general disorientation.   We were told to watch for those signs in other workers, and the injunction was occasionally given, and taken, that we needed to go have a drink of water.  Sometimes it was a joke, and a comment on silly judgment or behavior that was taken easily.   Occasionally it was serious.

  • The signs and symptoms of dehydration range from minor to severe and include:
    • Increased thirst
    • Dry mouth and swollen tongue
    • Weakness
    • Dizziness
    • Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding)
    • Confusion
    • Sluggishness fainting
    • Fainting
    • Inability to sweat
    • Decreased urine output

Fussiness was a symptom that had been experienced in the field work we did, so was included in our course of instruction.

Of course, the people out there doing this work were engaged in an avocation that makes it worthwhile, and we found things that made us proud of the work.   Taking safety precautions like making sure we took along large, heavy bottles of water and constantly refilled them, and ourselves, wasn’t onerous if it kept us going.   The few who had to drop out of field work would much have preferred to go on sweating and straining.   There was a lot to do cleaning, sorting, labeling and cataloguing the objects and artifacts that came in from the field and they were producing as much as workers outside in the dirt were, also.

So many people have asked for a bit of information about archaeological digs, that I hope this answers some more questions.   The day in the field is not a full eight hours, because that would be a killer.   Also, full hour at noon for lunch was enforced.   Even our professor contingent didn’t have the lack of supervision that they might keep going.   It’s not worth dying, to take that one last shovelful.

The artifacts that come back from the field are available for display at the museums of the country they are found in, and when I visited Belize City, I did go to the archaeological museum and find a few things about out digs.   There is not a lot of money for the displays, and there is a lot in storage that you only will see if you look for it.  If you want a link to our specific work, here you are.  Incidentally, the fourth largest cache of jade artifacts found in the Americas was discovered at Blue Creek.   The dig we worked on this year is IX’noha, and is conducted by the Blue Creek project as part of its ongoing exploration of the historically rich area.    The Blue Creek jade cache was found on the last day of a dig, something that has become a modus operandi with the Maya Research Program, for reasons unknown and not appreciated.


Jade ear ornaments displayed in Belize City archaeology museum from Blue Creek.



Pull Up a Chair

4:55 am in climate change, Culture, Environment by Ruth Calvo

Snow is my scenery, and source of the water.

(Picture courtesy of Ruth Calvo, back yard.)

Please don’t hate me because I have well water.  As many of you know, I’ve made the move in the dead of winter from Texas to northwestern Pennsylvania. It’s a lovely change, and lately I even am getting my wish to have snow all around, on the trees and on the ground. The effect is soothing as long as I’m not having to drive long distances in it, and the good effects on crops in spring is much to be wished for.

When you are on well water, it’s pure and fresh, and there’s no wasting it – provided you’re not in a water table that’s been ruined by fracking. I’m on a family’s longtime farm and the water is incredibly good.

It wasn’t the reason for my choice, of course, but how many of us have been able to experience this kind of luxury? Do you ever wonder about your own needs for water, and how it can be supplied in your future?

A good friend that I visited this summer with spudtruckowner, who shares his home with me now, lives in Portland OR.  There much news is addressing the potential for losing their water supply for months, if the overdue earthquake happens to them.    Of course, the constant rain there makes it less than catastrophic, but the same situation in our drought-stricken areas would be very serious.

Driving here I came through Oklahoma, then Arkansas and Missouri, where winter usually sees the lakes refill after the hot summer, but it’s not happening this year at the rate usually experienced and water tables are below normal.   Some of our Great Lakes are at their lowest ebb on record.

While growing crops is not an activity most of us depend upon, we all enjoy the effects of sufficient water that produces our vegetables, and goes on to feed our herds.   Have you been taking any measures to cut your use of water?   I recall many years ago when we all were being asked to fill toilet tanks with something solid to lower our water use.   A marble collection I used went forgotten when we sold the house, and I still joke about knocking on the door someday and announcing that I lost my marbles.

We are used to water shortages in the SW.   Have you been to the desert, and did you get the warning before you drove through it, to take a lot of water along?    When cars weren’t generally air-conditioned we drove at night out of safety considerations, as well as for comfort.   A friend of my youth loved to drive out of Corpus Christi at night, to the wonderful sight of oil refineries lighted up like a big festival.

I’m used to keeping a week’s supply of quart jugs full of water, in case of a tornado.   Here that won’t be necessary.   While I still shut off the water to brush my teeth, it’s no longer part of everyday conservation needs.

Have you become more conscious of saving the planet’s fresh water over the years?   In our childhood we weren’t conscious of our own role in making our lives livable.   That’s changed for me, I don’t use a lot of plastic, and I cut down my use of daily water, plus I avoid packaging for natural substances and food.   We’ve all have done this sort of readjustment.

I’m still restraining use of water, and wonder if I’ll ever get used to having enough, and all of it good.   Yes, I’m having a wonderful time learning.

Do you have unexpected good things you learn to live with?