Sunday, February 5, 2012

From Galatsi to Tumul K'in: Or, how we ended up leaving Greece for Belize

For those who did not know, about a month ago we said goodbye to our apartment and the great folks at the British School, packed up our things, and headed home. It turns out that getting a Greek visa extension nowadays is just about as easy as fixing Greece's economy overnight. After many trials and tribulations it came down to the Greek Ministry of Alien Affairs wanting me to put 6,000 euros into a Greek bank to prove my ability to survive and not become homeless. Considering it is basically impossible for local Greeks to withdraw money from their accounts, I decided I would likely never see the money again and it was just not worth it. Thus, when we realized we would be leaving earlier than anticipated we sent out a massive 'help! need work!' email to our contacts in the archaeology world. And it was in this fashion we formed new spring plans, and came home for a few weeks to exchange cold marble apartment clothing for tropical hammocking swag.

Almost immediately after sending our 'help' email, we were put in touch with and welcomed to join UNC-Chapel Hill Phd student Claire Novotny. Claire has been working as an archaeologist in Southern Belize for several years and for her dissertation is initiating a community archaeology program at the Tumul K'in Center of Learning. Though their website explains much better, Tumul K'in is a school located in the rural area of Toledo amongst many Maya villages. Their programs focus on entrepreneurial skills with an emphasis on the preservation of Maya culture.

This Friday I will leave sub-zero Wyoming and Rebecca will wave goodbye to blistery New Jersey and we will both travel to Tumul K'in. Once there we will work on a variety of archaeologically themed projects. Southern Belize has been a host to the Maya since their beginning. Numerous large Classic Maya sites dot the country, including many in the jungles of Southern Belize. Whereas many archaeologists have previously focused on the grand pyramidal structures of the area, Claire and coincidentally Rebecca and I, will be investigating residential areas in hopes to better understand how resources were controlled and distributed during the Classic Maya era.

We will be living and working near the villages of Aguacate and Blue Creek (look
at the 3 purple stars in the center left)

Once there we will help survey for new sites, excavate some already recorded house structures, and teach archaeology to Maya students in the classroom and out in the field. And then, of course, snorkel, dive, spelunk, beach lounge, monkey watch, and hammock our faces off. Stay tuned! 

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