Home Up Survey purposes Survey Methodology Excavations Methodology


Background of the field excavations

            In our work at Muyil, we excavated 68 stratigraphically controlled test pits, two shovel pits within the cave under Temple 8, four sacbe sections, and numerous small shovel pits. With the exception of the temple at Vigía del Lago, we did not excavate any structures.  The purpose of the excavations was to recover ceramics and other artifacts, the analysis of which is described in detail in following chapters.

            In the first year (1987 season) we excavated two 2 x 2 m test pits into platforms near Temple 8 (Structure 9K-1) — Pit 1 into Structure 8K-8, and Pit 2 into Structure 9K-14. Our purpose was to acquaint ourselves with the ceramics at Muyil and to obtain clues as to the dates of occupation of the site. In our second year (1988 season), we excavated eight more test pits, and our primary purpose was to sample the ceramics around several key structures.  In that season, we excavated two test pits (#5 and #6) in the Entrance Plaza Group, a test pit (#3) at the Castillo, three test pits (#10, #11, and #12) into the Great Platform, one test pit (#13) into the platform in front of Temple 8, and one test pit (#3) in front of the small temple at the eastern-most terminus of the sacbe system. We also excavated numerous small shovel pits.

            In our third field season, 1990, we excavated 60 test pits. A very high proportion of these were designed to sample midden areas near house mounds previously located by our survey. Most of our test pits adjacent to house mounds produced sherds in abundance, but a few test pits produced a very small number of sherds. The test pits that we excavated were labeled for convenience as follows: 

            • temple apron (into the supporting platform of a temple)

            • elite residence platform (into platform fill)

            • elite residence domestic midden

            • non-elite residence domestic midden

            • sacbe

            • cave

            A test pit into a temple apron simply means that our excavation was made into the platform or the front apron supporting the remains of a temple or temple-pyramid. We used the label "elite residence platform" for test pits into the platform fill of several very large platforms near the site center which probably supported perishable dwellings and were obviously not temple-pyramids.  A test pit labelled "elite residence domestic midden" describes a test pit excavated into the natural terrain adjacent to an elite residential platform as just described. "Non-elite residence domestic midden" is a label attached to test pits that we excavated into natural terrain adjacent to small house mounds usually found more distant from the temple-pyramids and large elite residential platforms nearer the site center. The label "sacbe" is used to describe four operations that are not stratigraphic test pits, but represent the removal of 10-20 cm of soil from a section of the surface of Sacbe 5 or Sacbe 6.  The label "cave" is used for two excavations made into the floor of the cave underneath Temple 8, (Structure 9K-1), and these also were not stratigraphically controlled.


© Copyright 2000-2005 Walter R. T. Witschey   Page last updated Wednesday, April 02, 2008