In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

RIO AZUL FIELD JOURNAL (1987) / R. E. W. Adams THE ACCOUNT GIVEN BELOW is of one field season in the life of an archaeological project located in the Maya lowlands of Guatemala. Rio Azul is the modern name of the ancient city where we worked for five years in an attempt to understand how the place had functioned as well as the special features of its history. As can be seen on the map, the site is in one of the more isolated zones of Central America and is about 180 kilometers (113 miles) over a jungle track from the nearest point of supply. For the last 50 miles, the country is, at present, entirely uninhabited. Therefore, the project and its camp is much more like the archaeological expeditions of former times when our predecessors were very much on their own and without expectation of any help in an emergency. We are better off, what with helicopters and a morse radio link, but we still find it best to assume that we will have to solve all of our own problems. The ancient city of Rio Azul, located along a river of the same name, was once an administrative center for the region, as well as a frontier fortress. It was a part of an ancient Maya regional state whose capital was the very much larger city of Tikal. Its great days were between about 250 and 850 AD, although pioneer farmers occupied the area long before that. I had helped find the city in 1962 with an oil company friend of mine, John Gatling, and we had published a short paper on the site. The site had been badly looted for saleable pottery, jade, and other valuables, which mainly wound up in the New York art market. A friend, Ian Graham, discovered what was going on, and in 1981 the Guatemalan authorities ran off the looters and placed a guard post near the site. Very little looting has been done in the zone since. Our project began in 1983 and we began to salvage the information on the tombs savaged by the looters, but also to carry out a program of scientific research focused on some of the "hot problems" of Maya archaeology. National Geographic Society began to sponsor us in 1984 and stuck with us faithfully through the rest of the work. The National Endowment for the Humanities also sponsored us for the last two years. We began and ended with a great deal of help from private sponsors, and the extracts from my field journals began as a way of giving them something more for their money and interest than simply the dry scientific reports. This portion of the journals is one which will form part of a book which I am preparing The Missouri Review ยท 95 for eventual publication. We have already issued three volumes of archaeological results, several papers are in press or out, and a number of popular articles have appeared. The following, then, is an extract of a field journal which I kept during the 1987 field season. The journal is largely as written except for cleaning up the telegraphic syntax normal to such diaries, expurgating some of the many querulous complaints (too many), and eliminating some names to protect the guilty. In a few cases, I have also telescoped some material, especially in regard to the preparatory period in Guatemala City. The dramatis personae are largely the staff and workers of the project, but many others drift through the pages. I trust that the reader will find them as entertaining or interesting as I did. Saturday, 14 February 1987, 5??. Arrived back in Guatemala on Monday the 9th with my daughter, Katherine, and Fred Valdez. The Institute of Anthropology in chaos continuo. No permanent director since last November, the new Minister of Culture and Sports was appointed two weeks ago, and there is intrigue in all the dark corners. No one knows for certain who will be the new Director of the Institute except perhaps, the new Minister and the President. Odds are on the former Director who was suspended in 1986 after four months in office. Cold, bright weather in the...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 95-129
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.