On a grassy plateau in the rolling foothills above La Paz lies a 42 acre plot of land where a friend was digging holes on his property to plant banana trees. The Valley of Comayagua is not known as the Valley of Rocks for nothing: the area where Mr X chose to dig, however, has a different type of soil. I reached down to pick up a handful of dark, moist earth similar to compost, loamy and soft. The gentleman thinks this area where he found the 1,500-year-old Lenca ollas was an ancient cementery because he also unearthed human bones that were buried with the ollas. I have contacted a University of California anthropologist, she who dated the ollas, and she provided me with contact information for a Honduran archaeologist. We have communicated and I hope an arrangement can be made to initiate further government-sanctioned exploration of the site. In the foothills surrounding the plateau can be seen terraces carved into the hillsides indicating a possible ancient human settlement.
A University of California, Berkeley anthropology professor has advised that the four ollas in previous posts are of the Santa Rita class of Ulua Polychrome tradition, 550 – 650 A.D., but never in association with human burials.
A friend excavated these ancient Lenca ollas from his property along with the bones of a long-buried skeleton: his wife made him get rid of the bones. This is the second site in the municipality of La Paz that I know of from which artifacts thousands of years old have been dug out of the ground. I haven’t yet visited the first site from which the other olla pictures which I posted earlier were discovered at a construction project. But tomorrow I will be visiting the excavation site that produced these two excellent pieces of ancient pottery, one completely intact. I will take pictures to help establish provenance.
During my recent journey to Honduras’ North Coast I lunched with my friend Bob at a favorite La Ceiba restaurant of mine on the Caribbean beach. Bob and I and a Honduran engineer rented a large house in La Masica back in 2009 before I was reassigned to La Paz. Bob is a Forestry Engineer who was with Canada’s equivalent of the Peace Corps. A former Canadian university professor he has dedicated his life to humanitarian projects all over the world. He had me laughing at incidents during his recent voluntary assignment to Malaysia. He was in Honduras on a temporary mission but is now based in Guatemala, where I last saw him at Lago de Atitlán in 2012 when I stayed at his house for a week and a half on my way to the Maya ruins at Tikal. Bob is the most selfless and dedicated, hard-working person I know. I am proud to call him a friend and fellow traveler. A true compañero.
On Cinco de Mayo (Viva Mexico!) I left La Paz to visit my goddaughter in La Ceiba. Several months ago when I visited Yelsi the highways were still in bad repair but signs of improvement were evident. A couple of years ago the government began installing toll booths at different points in the country’s highway system. This trip the change is dramatic. The highway that winds from the Comayagua Valley up over the mountains to the coastal plain is being widened to a four-lane modern transport system already crowded with commercial vehicles. Descending onto the coastal plain itself road maintenance crews are everywhere with heavy equipment operators moving tons of earth and raising infrastructucture to eventually extend the four-lane roadway up the coast. It appears the peajes are working wonders. As far as my search for the provenance of the ancient pottery discovered in La Paz is concerned, I have reached an impasse. The fellow who discovered the antiquities mother became ill soon after the discovery and has been hospitalized in Tegucigalpa. One must deal with reality, and wait.
Once the rainy season starts it will be impossible to navigate the long muddy dirt road down to the raging torrent the Umuya River will become. So we enjoy Mother Nature’s fruits while we can. We stand in a huge Mango grove and the kids scamper up like monkeys to harvest the succulent treats and swim in the nearby presently placid river water where we spend Sunday afternoons..
This ancient Lenca pottery was dug out of the ground by workmen at a construction site in downtown La Paz about three weeks ago. These ollas are thousands of years old and predate the Maya culture by centuries. The 6,000-year-old pyramid complex of the El Chircal archaeological zone is about ten kilometers from the municipalidad of La Paz, the La Paz departmental administrative center. My goal is to interview the workmen who made the discovery and view the site for photographic evidence to establish provenance.
Seven years ago today I arrived in Honduras as a Peace Corps Trainee. After a three-month training period I was accepted as a Peace Corps Volunteer along with 14 other Health Care Project Volunteers; of whom only 6 of us would complete the two-year term of service. I encourage anyone interested in this web page to scroll back to my introduction to Sister Edith and the children in her care that day so long ago when I met her and the kids. The situation today is quite different. When I returned from my vacation to the States last month Sor Edith told me she had received the keys to a 2011 micro-bus a supporter had donated to the Foundation the day I arrived home to La Paz. I look back with a sense of reverence to those days when there was barely enough to eat and we were worried about putting a roof on an abandoned, dilapidated adobe building, being previously used as a garbage dump, where the children were housed in their then-new home, sleeping on discarded bedding, after having been evicted from a municipal building initially provided by the alcaldía.