Origins: Digging an Early Mayan Site in Guatemala
One site holds promise for answering questions about the origins of ancient Mayan civilization. Perched between the pacific coast and a chain of volcanoes in western Guatemala, the largely unexcavated site of Chocola is revealing evidence that a large Mayan city thrived here in Preclassic times long before the great dynasties of Tikal, Palenque, and Copan made their debut. Monumental sculpture, architecture, and a sophisticated hydraulic system have already been discovered, but what makes the site significant is its location, early dates, and cultural remains. Interpreting the data collected here will have implications for the seminal developments that led to the rise of the classic period Mayans. To be sure, the research here will be key to a better understanding of the origins of this great Mesoamerican civilization.
Dr. Jonathan Kaplan of the University of Mexico and Dr. Juan Antonio Valdez of the University of San Carlos, Guatemala, will be leading a team consisting of Earthwatch volunteers and others next summer to find answers. Volunteers will survey, map, excavate, and do lab and archival work. They will also have the opportunity to visit places such as picturesque Lago de Atitlan, colorful local markets, or Abaj Takalik, another early Mayan archaeological site in the area. The season begins May 24th and ends August 23rd, but it is divided into 2-week sessions or "teams" from which participants may choose.
If you are interested in reading more about this opportunity, click here for details.