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  Field Notes From
Maya Royal Grave

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From Photographer

Kenneth Garrett

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photograph by Kenneth Garrett


Maya Royal Grave

Field Notes From Photographer
Kenneth Garrett

Best Worst Quirkiest
    For the 20 years I've worked in the Maya world I've wanted to include Takalik Abaj in a story. Unfortunately, it never quite fit into what I was doing. But with the site representing a thousand years of Olmec and Maya civilization—the dawn of the Maya era—and archaeologist Christa Schieber de Lavarreda's discovery of one of the earliest Maya king's burials, we had all the elements in place to focus on the area.

    I knew we didn't have space to develop a bigger story, but the worst part was leaving before I could explore other things related to Takalik Abaj. It would have been good to stay longer and learn more about the trade routes into the highlands and along the Pacific. I would like to have learned how the Maya power centers moved into the lowlands, making Takalik Abaj less important after it had been a great commercial and religious center. But we wanted to keep the story focused on the site inside the protected national park.

    I was asleep in the archaeology camp when at about five in the morning I heard what sounded like gunshots. I normally felt pretty safe inside the camp, but now thought we were being invaded. I heard all these voices and people running around, and wondered whether I should go out of the room. Then all of a sudden I heard singing.
    It turned out that all of the archaeological team had shown up early with steamed tamales and fresh lemonade to celebrate Christa's birthday. And what sounded like gunshots were actually firecrackers.


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