A Day in the Field

As an archaeologist I try to reconstruct the ways of life that no longer exist by looking at the ancient culture’s material remains, that is buildings and objects that have preserved.

It is sort of like being a detective, I use clues that the ancient people have left behind, to piece together their lives and I leave no stone unturned – even going through their rubbish!

I bet you are thinking that archaeology sounds fascinating and yes, it is! To many, archaeology conjures up exotic lands, adventures and unraveling mysteries.

It certainly is all that, but also involves dedicated study, living in harsh conditions and at times, painstakingly slow work. One thing an archaeologist should have and have plenty of is patience!

Below I give a description of what a typical day in the rainforest is like for me:

I wake up at 5.30 am to the glorious sound of howler monkeys outside my tent!

Listen to the howler monkeys

I get up and dressed, taking care to check my boots for any creepy crawlies!

Breakfast is eggs, beans and rice, I opt for a tortilla (similar to a pancake but made with maize) with marmite!

We share any food we have brought in with us, but fortunately for me, the Guatemalans and Americans I work with hate the taste of marmite and so my jar lasts the whole three months I am in the field 🙂

After breakfast I walk up to my site, which takes about 30 minutes.

I know when I am near the buildings I am excavating when I see this tree –the matapalo, which is Spanish for killer tree! (we call it the strangler).

I then start setting up for the day, getting all the bags ready for our finds, writing up reports and so on. Soon my team arrive and it is time to get our hands dirty!


At noon my helpers go back to camp to have lunch of yes, eggs, rice and beans! I stay behind to catch up on our findings and to have a bit of time to myself.

There is no privacy in the camp, so it is nice to have some time alone, although I always have the wildlife to keep me company, such as the lovely pizote (coatimundi) or the sound of the oropendula bird!

Oropendula bird

Sound of the oropendola bird

We continue working at 1 pm, discovering many interesting objects, pottery, stone tools and even human bones!


My helpers return to camp at 4 pm, but I stay behind studying some of the things we have discovered to try and form a picture of what life might have been like for the Maya.

Counting bones2
Dr Diane analysing a burial

I keep a sharp eye out though for the cheeky spider monkeys though who like to
throw nuts amongst other things at me whilst I am deep in thought!

Spider Monkey

I stroll back to camp watching out for those pesky monkeys!

I’m pretty dirty when I arrive back so I take a “shower” with some equally dirty water.

The Showers

No you really don’t want to see what it looks like inside……

We then eat dinner of, can you guess?

Yes, well done! Eggs, rice and beans!

By this time night has fallen and so there is not much to do, but lie on your hammock and watch the stars whilst swatting off bugs, or go to bed, not before checking your tent for scorpions or even worse snakes!


One response to “A Day in the Field”

  1. […] To learn about what it is like to carry out excavations in the Maya rainforest – click here […]

© 2020 Maya Achaeologist | All Rights Reserved | Manage consent