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The Archaeological FOUR Sites In 1959 and 1961, the Harvard University—Peabody Museum Nicaragua Project conducted archaeological reconnaissance and some 17 excavations at seven sites within the Department of Rivas in southwest Nicaragua (Fig. 8). These sites are described and excavation observations reported upon in this chapter. Site Designations The sites reported on here have each been assigned a three-part letter and number designation following the system proposed by Rowe (1971:478-80). In this site designation system for the Americas, the Republic of Nicaragua has been arbitrarily assigned the prefix letter "J" for national identification. This is followed by the two-letter state or regional abbreviation (in this case "RI" for the Department of Rivas), and the site number (given consecutivelyin the field). Finally, each site was also given a field name whichaided recall of the location. These last designations were usuallythe names of site owners, nearby towns, or haciendas on whichthe site wasfound. Thus, the third Rivas site located by the Peabody Museum expedition was labelled J-RI3 :Puerto San Jorge. Excavation Procedures In both 1959 and 1961, abbreviated sketch maps were prepared by Norweb and Willey (reproduced here as Figs. 9, 13, 15, 18, and 19) using Brunton compass and chain measurements. No contours were carefully measured though verbal descriptions (e.g., mound heights, bluff slopes, etc.) of topographic aberrations were made in the field notes and are included in the site descriptions. The careful identification of stratigraphic relationships of the cultural remains was an important objective in the Rivas project which, as has been earlier mentioned, was chronology oriented. No ceramic sequence was then available for the region and only stratigraphic control would be able successfully to produce such information . Test pits were uniformly 3 m. square, oriented, wherever possi37 38 Archaeology of the Rivas Region, Nicaragua Fig. 8. Map of the Rivas region and the archaeological sites of the Greater Nicoya Archaeological Subarea cited in the text: 1 —Isla del Purgatorio; 2—Ingenio Dolores; 3 —Puerto San Jorge; 4 —Santa Isabel "A"; 5 —Santa Isabel "B"; 6 —Palmar; 7 —Cruz; 8 —San Francisco; 9 — Tamarindo-Huerta del Aguacate; 10 — Matapalo; 11 —Las Huacas; 12 —La Bocana; 13-Ortega; 14-La Guinea; 15 — San Dimas; 16 —Las Pilas; 17—Bolson; 18 —Chahuite Escondido ; 19—Nacascolo; 20-Ruiz. ble, to the compass directions. Vertical control was completely by arbitrary units of a standard 25 cm. measure. Although excavations by natural layers were undertaken in the nearby Department of Granada (not yet reported upon) allcuts made in the Rivas region were by artificial levels. In general, this was necessitated by the quite uniform consistencyof the soils which pre- The Archaeological Sites 39 vented clear recognition of colour changes during the excavation process. Additionally, there were only rare instances of structural features (e.g., clay floors, hearths, etc.), and, aside from Pit 2 of site J-RI-7, few burials. Of the latter, none were identified as intrusive, and the excavation notes suggest that most of the excavated refuse was undisturbed since its original deposition. In this same regard, the Rivas mounds which were examined appear all to have been built up slowly and through time. At the beginning of our study there was some uncertainty on our part as to whether the artificial tumuli were heaped up at one moment; that is, constructions with mixed fill and refuse from various temporal components . Obviously this would have vastly complicated our analysis and certainly confused the picture. However, in the deeper excavations in Rivas, mixing was not common. Not only did post-excavation profiles suggest gradual stratification through time, but the ceramic frequency seriation and comparisons to Nicoya sequences seems to bear out this conclusion as well. Although inferior to excavating by natural strata, the soils of tropical America are often so notoriously leached of colour from heavy seasonal rainfalls and periods of intense, prolonged heat, that most excavators have, in fact, been forced to rely upon utilization of the small artificial levels methodology (Willey and McGimsey 1954, and Linares 1968 in Panama; Baudez 1967 in Costa Rica; Healy 1973, 1975a, 1978a, 1978b in Honduras; Coe 1961, and Coe and Flannery 1967 in Guatemala; Culbert 1965, and Brockington 1967 in Chiapas, Mexico, and so on). Norweb did, after the excavation was complete, scrupulously re-examine each stratipit wall for evidence of natural stratigraphy, and did delineate face profiles (one wall for each stratified excavation is illustrated herein). Though these are, as a rule, relativelygeneral in description, they apparently reflect...


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