The test unit was placed .2 m west of the back wall of the basemento, inside of a niche 3 m wide by .8 m deep. This niche is formed by a buttress approximately 1m high by .8 m wide that extends across the entire length of the west side of the basemento.
This operation was placed to better understand the stratigraphy behind Temple XIV and its relationship to the buried architectural feature discovered last season.
Excavations behind Temple XIV also revealed buried architectural features. At the south side of this initial test unit, just beneath an approximately .2 m deep humus layer, the uppermost course of a wall made of cut limestone set in clay mortar was encountered. This wall also faces north and runs east-west, and is possibly a continuation of, or associated with, the wall found at the base of our previous test unit. The wall extended beneath the basemento of Temple XIV and beyond the western limits of the test unit.
Continued excavations in the test unit showed that the wall was buried in loose rubble that consisted of approximately 80% rough-cut limestone in a matrix of light brown sandy loam. At a depth of 1.5 m the base of the wall was encountered, and a hard packed clay floor with traces of plaster was found to extend to the north for .9 m where it terminated at the top of a second wall, also perpendicular to the basemento of Temple XIV, and continued downward to an unknown depth. It was becoming apparent that we had encountered the uppermost of a series of buried terraces.
To further investigate this feature, ten 2 m by 2 m test units were excavated to the west and north of test unit 1 following the northern edges and corners of what proved to be a series of five north facing terraces, the lowermost rising from the level of the main plaza, and the uppermost running perpendicular to, and directly beneath, the center of the back side of Temple XIV.
The heights of these terraces range from 1.3 m to 1.7 meters, and the floors are .9 m to 1 m wide. The northwest corners of all but the lowest terrace were collapsed. Both the walls and floor of the terraces exhibited traces of plaster, and the terrace walls were slightly inclined to the south.
The fill that covered these terraces was consistent with the fill found in test unit one, though the fill on the lower terraces, where the height of the fill was greater, was contained in construction pens. These construction pens were made of dry-laid roughcut stone walls, arranged in 2 to 3 m squares that were filled with loosely packed roughcut stone fill in a light brown sandy soil matrix. It was probably necessary to use construction pens to contain the loose fill above these lower terraces which reach a maximum height of over 7 meters.
The exposed portions of the terraces were consolidated using a mortar of one part cement, one part lime, and 8 parts sand. The terraces were then backfilled, leaving only the uppermost .2 to .3 m exposed. To have totally exposed these terraces would have created a channel where water would run in the rainy season, causing unwanted erosion.
These terraces represent an earlier phase of the Cross Group, quite different from what was supposed in the past. The northern plaza of the Cross Group, which supports Temples XIV, XV, and XVb was a later addition constructed on top of at least 8 m of fill.
Moreover, Dr. Robert RandsŐ recent analysis of the ceramics found in the tombs of Temple XV (to the north of Temple XIV), show that this temple is the earliest structure in the Cross Group, instead of a later structure as had been previously supposed. This evidence suggests that there may be an earlier phase of the Cross Group, along with buried structures, beneath the northern plaza.