The core of the human remains team arrived on site last week and we’ve now got the lab set up and ready to go. Excavations will begin in the North and South areas of the mound tomorrow and we expect to encounter human remains straight away in Building 77, as the northeast platform (where a large number of burials were encountered) was only partially excavated in 2011. There are several other areas the excavators will be re-visiting this season (as well as a few new areas) where we also expect to find burials.
Last season we recovered the skeletal remains of over 60 individuals (one of our busiest years), and we have a bit of a backlog to catch up on in the lab before new burials start coming in. Most of the skeletal remains left over from last year are disarticulated bones recovered from highly disturbed contexts – usually they derive from primary burials that have been truncated by later interments. Our goal is to re-associate these bones with what remains of the in situ primary skeletons, but it’s often a real challenge!
Next week, once excavations have begun, I’ll have more to report. Until then, I leave you with a photo of unusual dental wear on the lingual surface of the upper left incisors of a Neolithic adult individual recovered a few season ago. Josh Sadvari is recording extramasticatory (non-food related) dental wear as part of his doctoral research and this is one of his more interesting cases.