Pool With National Science Foundation support, Dr. Christopher Pool will conduct one season of fieldwork at the archaeological site of Tres Zapotes located in Veracruz, Mexico. Although only limited work has been done at this very important Olmec site, evidence indicates that it was occupied for perhaps 1,500 years and thus it documents much of Olmec prehistory. It contains at least 25 carved stone monuments, one of which bears the second earliest date in mesoamerica and thus sheds light on the rise of this calendric system. Still, little is known about the site. No topographic map has been published, the limits of the site remain undefined and the distribution of residential occupation and craft production loci across the site are unknown. The relationship of the site to other settlements and to resources in its hinterland are also poorly understood. Dr. Pool's research will help to remedy this situation. He will conduct an extensive survey of Tres Zapotes and produce a map of both structures and concentrations of surface materials. Lithic, ceramic and other cultural remains will be collected to reconstruct chronology and to provide evidence of activities conducted. The Olmec constitute the first complex culture in Mesoamerica which, either directly or indirectly, gave rise to later groups such as the Maya. Much of the basic structure of prehistoric Mesoamerican cultures derives from this source and thus an understanding of the development of Olmec civilization is extremely important. Surprisingly little however is known about the Olmec and Tres Zapotes, because of its long chronological span and its wealth of material remains, may prove a crucial source of data. Dr. Pool envisions this first season of field research as the base on which a long term project will, hopefully, be built. The data he will produce will be of importance to a large number of archaeologists. Because he will involve many undergraduates in the project, it will also serve to educate st udents in science and encourage them to pursue scientific careers.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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John E. Yellen
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Ithaca College
United States
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