Excavations at La Venta, Tabasco, 1955

Excavations at La Venta, Tabasco, 1955

Excavations at La Venta, Tabasco, 1955

Excavations at La Venta, Tabasco, 1955

Excerpt

During the dry season of 1955, a National Geographic Society- Smithsonian Institution-University of California archeological expedition carried on extensive excavations at the Olmec site of La Venta, Tabasco, Mexico. This site, one of importance in its day, is of considerable interest archeologically and has been the scene of several studies in recent years by the National Geographic Society-Smithsonian Institution research program in southern Mexican archeology: (1) M. W. Stirling's initial visit in 1941, during which he obtained data on a number of large stone monuments; (2) Drucker's work in ceramic stratigraphy there in 1942, and his preliminary tests of certain structures, in the course of which he encountered some interesting offerings; and (3) Stirling and Wedel's more extensive tests of structural areas in 1943, in which they uncovered numerous offerings. While these early projects had made available a fair amount of information on the site, none of them had thrown much light on patterns of construction, or architecture -- if one can speak of architecture with reference to masses of piled-up clay. The simple reason for this was that at no time was there an adequate labor force available to get any conclusive results from the tests of the structures, which always turned out to be larger than the excavator anticipated. In 1941, Stirling had only a few days available to clear and photograph the monuments; in 1942, Drucker had about 3 weeks at the end of his ceramic tests to put his 8- to 10-man crew on the structures; in 1943, Stirling and Wedel had but 18 to 20 men available. It was therefore resolved that we attempt a climax dig in the 1955 season, with a labor force adequate to move enough dirt to yield some conclusive results. We envisioned the project as one involving among other things the physical handling of stone columns and. monuments and a large quantity of earth -- large, at least, by . . .

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