Teen Science Scholars Peru Update - August 6th

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By Kimi McBryde, 2013 Teen Science Scholar


August 6th, 2013

Today, we woke up with pretty much the same routine as yesterday.  Breakfast at 6ish, leave the house at 7.  Today was also Lauren's and Airielle's first day in the field on this trip, they felt a lot better.  In the van this morning, we still had the four girls, Michele, Ari, the driver, Mr. police man, Panchito, Neri, and Guillermo, but we also had Margarita.  Our first stop of the morning was in Casa Grande (the town, not the sugar cane company-the sugar cane company owns the majority of the land that we are working on) to drop Margarita off at the market. It was a 2 and a half hour drive to the road closest to the site and another 2.5 km from the van to the site where Ari wanted to go.  We got to the parking spot at 9:30.  A little ways away from the final parking spot, we got stuck in the sand because we were attempting to go up a hill made of sand.  Once everyone got out, the guys were able to get the van unstuck and it got up the hill okay.  While they were taking care of the van, we were looking at some cliff faces and the sediment layers within them.  We took a fair number of pictures with scales and the north arrow.  We also took some pictures of the river bed (dried up) with the north arrow, then hiked up the road to where the van was waiting, piled into the van again and drove on.  We ended up parking under the electrical lines that cross the desert, with the lovely sound effect of the electric current hissing and jumping down the lines.  We wandered up to the terrace and Michele discovered a canal and ancient fields.  The fields were all ripples, and the canal was just another giant ripple.  The workers cleared off the sand a little bit and we wrote out the white board and took pictures of the canal and fields while Clare began to walk the length of the canal from first noticeable point to as far as she could find it.  After pictures, Lauren and I walked out across the fields and looked for ceramics and stone tools.  We found a number of vessel lips as well as stone tools.  We went back to where Ari was because Michele had wandered down the canal with Claire and Airielle. 

We were basically wandering through the middle of the desert, mostly following the path of the canal when we stopped for breakfast.  There were three distinct groups along the canal when we stopped for breakfast.  Everyone spread out according to who they knew and were comfortable with.  Ari and Michele found another remnant of a field of some sort, but this one was more recent than the first ones.  They did some measurements and some picture taking, then everyone packed up and continued on through the desert, which was weirdly humid this morning. 

When we left the breakfast spot, at around 12:15, Clare and I took the iPad and continued the GPS tracking path she had started and followed the canal for another 2 kilometers.  Every so often, we would radio in to Ari and Michele to tell them that we had lost the canal or it turned off into a corn field, etc., but we always re-found it and continued on.  Eventually, we had to cross a bunch of shrubbery and ended up away from the rest of the group, who had been trekking across the top of sand dunes and on a straighter course towards site number 44 (from a archaeological survey done in the 1980s), the final destination.  When we finally actually lost the canal because it delta-ed out, and split up into other new canals that went to the right when we wanted to continue straight and a little to the left.  After marching through much shrubbery, dirt, cornfields, and dunes, Clare and I found Michele, who had been waiting for us and trying to locate us.  She had been with Nayo and Paolo, we continued on to where Ari and everyone else was waiting.  They had finally found site 44 and had started digging a big cut in an area where there wasn't as much sand.  In the surrounding area, there were a handful of multiroomed stone (brick) structures that were still mostly standing (the walls).  Nayo and Paolo were set the task of drawing out the structures on millimeter grid paper while Lauren watched them to learn how to do it.  Nayo and Paolo draw maps and diagrams of archaeological sites all of the time.  In the mean time, Panchito, Neri, and Guillermo worked on the big cut while Airielle and I watched and then took organic samples from each capa.  A capa can have multiple levels, and a new capa is identified when the sediment changes texture, color, size, material, etc.  We had to sift the dirt from each capa and pull out organic materials from each capa and bag those.  We only got through capa B today. 

At 2:30 pm, we all sat down for lunch and then packed up to head back to the van.  We are planning to return to this site tomorrow because Michele and Ari want another cut and want to take samples of each level in the capas. 

When we had been walking along the canal, Clare and I had walked through some nasty little prickly things.  They covered her pant legs and her shoes.  At one point, she had stopped and unzipped the legs completely to keep the pokeys from stabbing her (camping pants).  The problem with that is that it increased the potential surface area for each pokey and more cloth became wrapped in and around the pokeys.

On the walk back to the van, Clare continued to pick off the pokeys from her pant legs, and Airielle and I chatted.  Michele at one point (somehow) noticed a corner of a structure, but it was barely visible in the sand.  We all continued on, again in 3 little clumps.  The majority of the guys got the van first with Mr. Police man and met up with the driver, the 4 girls returned next, and waited for Michele, Nayo, Paolo, and Ari to show up.  It was only about an hour and a half walk from the site back to the van.  When Michele and company turned up, it turns out they had been taking pictures of a human skull they had found and a special shell from overseas that were found laying in the sand.  How crazy is that?!  I think one of the most interesting things here is that you find all sorts of cool, archaeological things just lying on top or barely under the surface of the sand.  They approximated that the skull is maybe 1000 years old and that the shell was probably buried with the body as an offering. 

We all piled into the van, headed out of the corn fields.  We didn't get stuck on the sand hill again, and after about an hour got out onto real road again.  At one point, we stopped for extremely sweet, juicy watermelon and enjoyed that by the side of the road.  We stopped in Chocope to drop off Nayo and Paolo, then headed home to Magdalena.

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