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It finally drew public attention, including an article in USA Today, last week after it was announced at the annual conference of the Society of American Archaeology. The mysterious demise of the Mayan empire has always drawn interest, so interest was piqued by the idea of finding the oldest ever royal tomb at least 200 years older than the previous record, at a nearby location called San Bartolo.
"If you can't handle spiders and scorpions, this is not for you. in archaeology, first became interested in the topic in an NHS archaeology class taught by a teacher named Nancy Hilliard. His interest grew at Boston University, where a fieldwork class in Belize brought his attention to Central America, which has remained his specialty.
Funding came from a variety of sources, most importantly the National Science Foundation (which, as a side note, announced Friday that all grant applications would have been frozen if the federal government had shut down).
The pot turned out to be an incense burner, beautifully carved with the face of a "jester god" and symbols that in the classical Mayan period, the era of hieroglyphs and step pyramids, connotes royalty.
In good cinematic tradition, Paling stooped and shone his flashlight into the darkness and saw nothing, then slowly turned and encountered a skeleton surrounded by pottery, lying on the floor.
of cautious excavation followed. It was back breaking work in a manmade cave too shallow to stand up in, lit by diesel generators hauled through the jungle, in a location that had to be guarded at night to keep out looters.
Money had to be gathered to perform the various lab tests. Time had to be found to do the various data analysis. Various researchers at various institutions have to swap data and information, all the while working on other projects, trying Michael Kors Sutton Medium Satchel Dark Dune to find jobs or, like Paling, finishing their dissertations. to be awarded from the University of Albany, Paling is doing his best to get more people excited in the field.
Years of confirmation work followed, including radio carbon dating of bones and the testing of microscopic plant residue called phytolith, reinforcing that understanding.
In 2008, it took him to an abandoned Mayan town called K'o, one of many places being studied in an area of Guatemala northwest of the famous site Tikal, as scientists from around the world try to understand how Central America's greatest pre Columbian civilization grew.
The project also displays the complexity of large scale science.
"I went down because I was the smallest guy," he said.
Particularly exciting is the idea that many more bodies lie in chultuns, under the jungle mounds that often mark the remains of houses and other buildings.
Teachers never know where their classes will take students. Case in point: a high school class took Jason Paling to a historic find under the floor of a long ruined house in the Guatemala jungle.
by Dr. Francisco Estrada Belli of Boston University.
Overseeing a small excavation of a house, part of a much larger project, they found an underground storage area, known as a chultun, carved out of limestone beneath the floor. In 2008, after blocking debris had been removed, Paling wriggled down a small shaft into the chamber.
The burner confirmed other evidence, such as the location of seven other pots around the body and the placement of the bones carefully facing south, that this man in his 50s was no ordinary farmer.
Paling, inadvertently demonstrating why archaeologists have developed tediously detailed procedures for doing everything at dig sites, made the most important discovery during the final, methodical cleanup, after the bones and pottery had been taken away.
From the scientific point of view, the work throws new light on the transition from the "pre classical" Mayan era, before writing was developed and when life was centered on smaller agricultural communities, to the classical era of relatively large urban centers, with more sophisticated cultural life, including the quarried stone pyramids that draw scientists and tourists to this day.
smell the incense," a type of resin known as copal, Paling said.
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"I was scraping the floor with a trowel, gathering up everything, and then worked on the wall," he said. He scraped a spot in the wall that looked like a hard nodule in the midst of limestone, only to have it break open, revealing a small pot.
Paling supervised the archaeological excavation at this house, while Dr. John Tomasic of University of Kansas directed the overall archaeological project in K'o . All this work was under the auspices of the Holmul Archaeological Project, headquartered in Peten, Guatemala, and directed Michael Kors Ava Handbag
From a Nashua classroom to a Mayan burial pit
He is teaching Introduction to Archaeology this summer at Nashua Community College, and in the fall will teach Cultural Anthropology and Latin American history.
This complexity helps explain why it took three years for news of the discovery to come to the wide world. Shouting "eureka!" isn't enough.
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