Student Blog — Goodbye worms!

Abigail shares some of her experiences on the field school in this post. We did mangle quite a few worms this season, I am afraid! — Kate

As the past month of field school comes to a close, I cannot believe all we’ve done and learned within the month yet at the same time it feels as if it’s gone by in two seconds! It’s sad to think I won’t spend my mornings trying to bully as many people as I can into carpooling with me to BcGn-17. It’s been so cool to see as our site grew and theories changed (shoutout to the drain we thought was a wall for so long!) and watching it all get backfilled felt bittersweet.

E7037 N4932 At 40cm down! Prepped and read to be photographed showing off the weird curve in the drain
Michelle and I digging around the drain on the west half of the unit, we are expert diggy diggers

During the last week on BcGn-17, I focused on exposing the drain structure in a 2×2 unit I had been working on for a while (E7037 N4932) which seemed to be a continuation of the drain we had been following but it had come to a sort of curve and spread outwards, which lead to me begging James to let us open up the unit directly beside to the west (E7035 N4932). I dug the southwestern corner down to about 90cm in E7037 to find the bottom of the drain and then we moved to all hands on deck in our last two days in trying to excavate E7035, which was quite impressive!

All hands on deck!
Everything found in E7035 N4932 on Thursday alone! (30cm depth) 

In the new 2×2 unit we found probably the highest artifact count of all of the units excavated and found multiple nearly whole bricks smushed between the stone structure as well as some metal which Kate believes was a bucket. As we continued down to 30cm, we discovered by the hidden tarp that the southwest corner of the unit had been previously excavated in 2009 in a 1×1 unit, meaning they couldn’t tell there was an actual structure and tragically removed all the rocks! Very unfortunate that it was our last day as we couldn’t excavate surrounding units to uncover how the structure continues, but I look forward to following this blog to see future discoveries!

Cierra and Jada hard at work trying to navigate around the tarp from 2009 excavations

Despite the football shaped (and sized) sunburn on my back, many bug bites, and dirt I will never remove from my car seats, I will never ever forget this experience and the people that I met. Everyone was so beyond kind, and I hope to see you all in the future in some capacity! Thank you thank you thank you 😊

DISCLAIMER: Quite a few worms were harmed in the excavation of this site. Sorry worms.

— Abigail Davies

Student Blog — Brain Soup

Here are some of Stephanie’s musings from the field school experience! — Kate

Being in the middle of a farmers field for nearly a month does some things to the mind; the sun, repetitive tasks and the muggy warmth does slowly cook the brain into a groggy stew.

Excitement of meeting a variety of new people and the discoveries of artifacts throughout the time spent at BcGn-17 has made the daily creation of brain soup a little more digestible.

Gathering information through the ploughed fields via pedestrian survey gave a significant insight into what type of artifacts would likely be found while doing a stage 3 excavation.

Intense amounts of ceramic fragments in a majority of the units opened within BcGn-17.

Not sure I have ever seen a drainage system like this in Canada, but I have only lived through the 2000s and unfortunately never experienced life in the mid-late 1800s.

Ground penetrating radars done prior to this season’s field school had revealed a wall-like anomaly running from east to west along the more northern end of BcGn-17.

Excavation of ten plus units showed that the possible wall previously seen with GPR, had actually been a drainage system either for the past farmhouse or for the field itself.

Revelations such as; the new information gathered on artifact densities (both surface and those found in the sediment), the spread of artifact distributions and the types of artifacts found, the drainage system, and the possibility of newly found features upon the sterile subsoil, although relatively low in comparison to past field schools have answered some of the questions that James and Kate held at the beginning of the 2023 field school season.

Like what the anomaly seen with GPR may have been, or where the previous inhabitants may have placed their home.

Yearning for more answers to what the full layout of this farm property would have been during occupation, James and Kate will likely continue excavation of the site BcGn-17 in the next few semesters that ANTH-3000Y will be taught.

— Stephanie Chaisson

Student Blog — Revitalized & Excited

Caleb shares some of the road that led him to joining the field school this season. — Kate

Oh man, where do I begin to explain the time I had with this field school. I suppose to get a proper grasp on my feelings I’ll need to explain some contextual information about my situation prior to the field school. To say I have had quite the academic journey thus far would be an understatement. In adopting the old adage and envisioning the journey like a rollercoaster, since my first year, there have been a plethora of ups, downs, climbs, falls, loops and inversions, with the climb to the first drop being the year 2019.

I am thankful for the fact that my first year took place during the final year before Peterborough was affected by the Covid pandemic. Having one year of normal university, I feel was critical in consolidating my dedication to archaeology as my program. I fear without it I might have given up in face of the trials and tribulations that was online schooling. Indeed, as I’m sure most will agree, learning such a physical discipline via online means is not optimum. So much so, that there was a time at the end of my second year, during the height of the pandemic that my academic conviction nearly crumbled. It was only the prospect of hybrid learning and the partial return to the classroom in my third year which kept me going.

While my third year was certainly an improvement in terms of hands-on learning, I did find that socially connecting to my peers was difficult. This was probably due to the fact that we were all still essentially strangers to each other, previously only having one proper year to meet in person prior to sharing third year classrooms.

Fortunately, the end of my third year also marked the end of my lowest time at university. In fourth year I began to make connections with professors, explore more in depth material on archaeology, and find kinship with my peers. And capping off this triumphant climb on the Trent academic coaster was my participation in the 2023 Ontario field school. Indeed, in many ways it was everything I could have asked for from a field school.

From the faculty running as supervisors, to the plethora of bright faces who arrived everyday and traded their masks for high viz vests and shovels, I could not have asked for better company on site. In addition to all of this, I was excited to share the field with fellow indigenous band members, who share an interest in cultural material, as indigenous led archaeology is the path I’ve decided to tread this was a wonderful sight to see.

To be entirely honest, I have to revert to the nit-picking method of analysis to even find fault with the field school. The one issue I can think of is that it was quite short. Maybe it just came down to my perception of time or the factor that physical work makes time fly, but I felt that we only began to scratch the surface of the potential inherent to the field opportunity. Maybe in the future, a lab aspect can be incorporated either in betwixt time on site, to pad out the duration of the course.

All in all I am more than happy with my time this month, I’ve gained experience on the extracurricular skills used on site, like grid mapping, documentation, and feature planning. I’ve gained some great friendships as well, which is more than I could ever ask for.

–Caleb Johnson

Student Blog — A Month of Reflections – My Experience of the 2023 Trent Ontario Archaeological Field School

Here’s Erik’s take on his field school experience. I have really enjoyed reading these student reflections about their experiences. — Kate

Unfortunately, my time participating in this year’s Trent Archaeological Field School has come to an end. Over these past weeks I have had the pleasure of learning and working alongside my peers under the guidance of Kate, James, Michael, and Dan on a project that provided consistent engagement and reward. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in the excavation of several different units across multiple sites, partake in the re-rediscovery of a well at BcGn-17, gain practice in a mapping exercise using a theodolite, and briefly begin cleaning some of the artefacts uncovered by the crew, amongst other activities, an overall well rounded experience. The following is essentially a step-by-step account of my experience participating in the 2023 Field School.

The well after being cleared back by Teika, Fraser, and myself, was located north of the primary excavation area.

After completing our first day of the field school, in which we were briefed on the background of the Nassau Mills region and specifically site BcGn-17, I was given the privilege of joining Teika in beginning a search for re-rediscovering the well on this site; a day later we were joined by Fraser. For a first assignment it was a rather daunting task, but fortunately for me Teika has plenty of CRM experience and helped me with the more technical components of excavating, such as the squaring of walls, and tips on efficient trowelling (both of which I still need to improve at, but am a lot better at due to Teika’s help.)

Tired Fraser and Teika after exposing the first level of the well’s rocks.

After completing our excavating work at the well, I was reassigned to complete a mapping exercise which James had set up to give us practical experience using a theodolite and translating the data to a technical map. Working again with Fraser, and joined by Kyla and Janet, we were required to find the GPS coordinates of each artefact flag laid out by James and then establish the locations for one by one metre units at five metre intervals. For mapping half of the artefacts, we used tape measurers to calculate their location relative to the datum, and for the other half we used the theodolite. After gathering their locations, we drew up a map and plotted their locations (as I do not have a photo or copy of the map, Fraser’s blog post “The Art of Mapping” does feature a rough version of it.)

Within the following days, I was assigned to complete a one by one metre unit examination under the supervision of Michael. Working with Sebastian, we rather quickly were able to reach subsoil and complete our unit – I believe it was at this site that I uncovered my first artifact, which was a small white ware porcelain sherd ( which I do not have a picture of). After completing a unit form and profile plan, we closed the unit and returned to the main site.

For the next several days, I worked on a two by two metre unit at the south east end of the primary excavation area. This unit took up approximately a week of my time at the field school, as it was taken down from about ten centimetres to forty, being mapped and profiled at twenty and thirty centimetres, and pictured at forty. Undoubtedly the twenty to thirty centimetre layer provided the most artifacts, including two large blue transfer print porcelain ceramic sherds (which I do not have pictures of). For this stage of the unit, I worked with Alyssa and Cierra, who told me about a unique set of archaeological t-shirts featuring their favourite and least favourite aspects of archaeological fieldwork (for example, “artifacts” = good; “bugs” = bad.)

After this unit was closed, I was sent to a new site, BcGn-28, directed by Michael, which is where I would end up concluding my time at this field school. At this site, I was again working with Cierra on excavating a one by one metre unit adjacent to where a large quantity of pre-contact artifacts had been located. This unit turned out to provide plenty of related artifacts – mainly earthenware ceramics and faunal remains, but also two lithic points and a metallic pin/fish hook. But while the topsoil provided many artifacts, the unit’s subsoil did not; instead, the most notable aspect of the unit was a potential feature in the unit’s south-east corner, which is most likely a posthole.

Now, as I conclude my account of participating in the 2023 Trent Archaeological Field School, I would once again like to thank the course’s instructors for their guidance and help in making this field school incredibly enjoyable and helpful. Additionally to my peers, many of whom I have gotten to know much better than previously before, for being a phenomenal crew to work alongside of. Besides for an unfortunate encounter with BcGn-28’s resident poison ivy, there is little I have to say about this field school not living up to my expectations of what I had hoped to learn and experience.

–Erik Wright

The end of Field School 2023!

It’s hard to believe, but we have come to the end of our 2023 field school. It’s been a rewarding, frustrating, challenging, exciting experience, as always. The last day is often frantic, where we are trying to fit in as much as possible while the clock runs down.

We had some crew work on washing artifacts that had come in the last week, and that was almost completed, which is very nice for me to begin the analysis!

The crew posted to the Indigenous site had some open units to finish and record, and also pack and transport all the equipment out to the pickup location.

Today at BcGn-17, we had two open units to finish, one of which was capably and speedily done by Justyna and Susannah. Alyssa and Tim took everything out of the trailer and packed it neatly instead of the usual chaotic mishmash it turns into over the weeks! The rest of the team (Cierra, Abigail, Sebastian, Jada) dived back into our extension unit, placed to investigate the turning of the drain and widening into a larger aggregation of stones. Sebastian noted that the rocks seemed to end, and as we continued digging down it soon became apparent why…a blue tarp peeking out, which means that part of our new unit had been excavated in 2009. At the time of that excavation, they were doing a Stage 3 which is 1x1m units on a 5m grid. It is very hard to see what is going on with large features in a 1×1. Most likely that crew encountered the rocks and dug down through them before deciding they might be a feature and covering it for future work [insert sad trombone noises].

All too soon, it was time to wrap things up. So this will have to be a future investigation where we can continue to puzzle out where the drain ends and maybe figure out what it is draining. We have brick, mortar, charcoal, and a lot of artifacts in this area, which might suggest a destruction layer for a structure.

Data recording happening right down to the wire as Alyssa plans the unit we just finished while backfilling is going on.

At 12pm we reconvened at the Archaeology Centre, ate pizza and cake and then it was time to say goodbye.

Tired, full of pizza, and a bit sad to say goodbye!

James, Michael and I headed back out to finish backfilling BcGn-17. We also picked up the field equipment at BcGn-28.

With the last stakes pulled and backfilling complete, BcGn-17 is officially closed.

We then brushed the dirt off and tidied up as best we could because we had the pleasure of attending the graduation ceremony for the Archaeology Liaison trainees!

There are a couple student blog posts to come but overall things are shifting from excavation to analysis. I will try and pop in with any updates, and we do have plans to do some more excavation in October, so check in then. Thanks for following along with us this season!

Student Blog — Deciphering Dirt and being Artifaked!

Justyna’s post give you a slice of life during the field school. — Kate

If someone were to ask me what dirt was one month ago, I would probably respond with, “The crumbly brown stuff containing creepy crawlies and nutrients that keep my plants alive”. After looking at dirt for countless hours and noticing its intricacies during this field school at Trent, I have pivoted to the belief that dirt is a whole science and an art!

May I guide you through my week at the Middle Woodland site Kiiktanong Mash’iing which is a suspected seasonal hunting campsite:

Each morning began carpooling in a cuddly fashion with my fellow diggers. The site was enclosed in a forested area which required us to lug all of our equipment through a path lined with poison ivy. We would sing “The ants go marching, one by one, hoorah”, as we grasped our shovels in single file, sporting matching fluorescent orange safety vests.

In the clearing, we were welcomed by a plume of sweet grass smudge and mosquitoes. The Indigenous liaison trainees invited us to purify our thoughts, vision, and hearts to make a positive space for the digging activities.

The Indigenous artifacts here were drastically different from the stark white and blue ceramics and easy-to-spot metal nails at the historic site. These artifacts were mostly ceramic (clay) or lithic (stone), which are naturally found in dirt. At first, the screens looked like an intimidating haze of brown and gray. I was picking out pieces that had an orange hue thinking they were pottery, just to have them crumble in my hands and reveal their mudstone identity. The actual pottery had visible temper inclusions along the broken edge. This is added to the clay to prevent shrinkage and cracking during the vessel’s drying and firing stages.

It is safer to over-analyze screen material than to skim it over. However, I think the sunscreen and bug spray chemicals were getting to my group because we began hallucinating projectile points into existence. This pictured rock is not an artifact, it is an artifake!

Some actual artifacts found at the Woodland site included:

– Blue calcined bone and other faunal remains (mammal, small and large fish vertebrae, an ungulate, a tooth)

– Ceramics (some decorated with a cord-wrapped stick pattern and chevrons)

– A biface thinning flake (when held up to the sun, the edges become translucent due to thinness)

The art and science of dirt are seen through its colours, textures, and layers. The topsoil was usually medium brown and felt like a stickier version of garden mix, termed “loam”. Reaching subsoil was characterized by splotches of orangey loam and sandy or silty gray clay. The technical term for splotchiness is “mottled”. Typically, beneath that layer lies a pristine stratum consisting of either the variegated variety, which is glacial deposit free of cultural material. Occasionally the dirt would be an amalgamation of clay, loam, silt, AND sand! Our profile unit drawings included the stratigraphy of the walls labeled with a code provided by the Munsell colour system book.

Stratigraphy: the neapolitan icecream of archaeology

Most of the time our pits looked like a paint palette. Colourful streaks would peek through while troweling – white was mortar, bright orange was brick, black was charcoal, sparkly grainy material in gold, plum, green, and black were decomposing rocks. Sometimes clay became oxidized and turned red.

At the historic site, occasional stone and brick features would be found, but the Woodland site features were simply dark charcoal-coloured stains in the ground. This hints at organic matter. Features can be figured out based on their shape – post holes (circular), midden (large and diffused). Other times, the stains could have formed from natural events like animal burrows, or burning events.

At lunchtime, our team would refuel at the local food shop and have conversations that would propel our curiosity about the site and each other. The days closed with carpooling back to Trent (shoutout to the drivers!), and smiley goodbyes until the next day.

 — Justyna Male

Student Blog — Why Archaeology?

Here’s one last dispatch from Fraser! — Kate

This question, posed by me to many of my colleagues over the course of our field school experience began as an attempt to gain insight into my own academic journey. Over the weeks that we all worked together, answering this ‘simple’ question led me to some profound insights. The students and facilitators of this field school have offered justifications for their interest in Archaeology, and their own unique pathway which led them to this work and to this exceptional experience. The diverse backgrounds and trajectories of the participants now become part of the story that archaeology can help tell us about those who walked before us, and our steps today echo their footprints in the past.

Concerns both intellectual and material motivated myself and my colleagues to learn fieldwork methodologies. Many are planning to attend graduate school in the coming years, where field experience will enhance their applications and prospective scholarship within the academy, and beyond. Others are participating in ongoing excavations at internationally significant archaeological sites, reinforcing existing relationships between scholars and institutions. Several students are looking to find employment in Ontario’s CRM (Cultural Resource Management) industry, often to support their future academic goals.

For at least one student struggling with trauma, this course served as the figurative aloe which soothes sun-burned necks and ears, and brought some peace to a troubled heart. Another individual knew on day one that field work was not their cup of tea- but they persisted none-the-less. These strands of experience and aspiration which permeate this crew of archaeologists underlay a most critical aspect of this field school experience: the value of teamwork. Teams are formed in many ways, but a common goal develops strong ties of interdependence, and methodically excavating an archaeological site is just such an endeavour. We are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain, and the whole team benefits by consistently working to lift one another up, no matter how challenging. We have successfully ‘imposed order’ on the physical structure of the sites in a most pleasing, and information-generating way. We have learned about ourselves, and each other. We have made lasting connections, and engaging friendships.

In addition to all of these profound benefits, I can now say I too have an answer to the question posed at the top. Archaeology is the answer to the questions that are central to numerous fields of enquiry. Why are we here? What came before us? Where are we going? These simple questions have impossibly complex and tangled answers, many facets of which may never be deciphered. But the search for answers leads us archaeologists to dig holes, to wonder about who and what was there centuries, or millennia prior.

The recovery and analysis of material culture from those who came before gives us insight into our shared histories, and can paint a more detailed, vibrant picture of what was, and what might be. The physical expression of a historic experience is an impactful statement of truth. Historical narratives and literary sources can have elite-biases, but the physical record is harder to obfuscate. Archaeology can reveal the lives and stories of those who were not written about. If history is an unfinished tapestry, then Archaeology can seek to reinforce and deepen its detail, its colours, its soul. Archaeology isn’t the question, it’s the answer. Why? Archaeology.

            I have been greatly affected by this experience, and it will be with me for the rest of my days. I’m saddened that field school has come to an end, but I have made lasting friendships, and learned more than I thought possible, and not only about archaeology. Those countless acquired skills will serve me well in my future studies, I am certain. Thank you to the leaders, and especially my teammates who showed me the proper way to do things. I am forever grateful for your kindnesses and your generosities. No useless tools on this site, ever! (Thanks for showing me that, JMS).

A beautifully excavated 1×1 test unit! (FW/JS)
A beautifully back-filled 1×1 test unit.
Sad to fill in our hard work. Glad to have made a new friend. 🙂

— Fraser Williston

Student Blog — Field School Conclusion

Wrapping up a site is always a bit sad, but as Jada shows, the time we spent together will have future impacts! — Kate

Today marked the bittersweet conclusion of our archaeological field school, and I must admit that bidding farewell to this unforgettable experience stirred up a mix of emotions within me. As I witnessed our excavation units being backfilled and our once lively site gradually returning to its original state as an empty farmer’s field, a sense of sadness intertwined with a deep sense of accomplishment came over me. The realization that our weekday mornings will no longer begin with the familiar ritual of gathering on campus, eagerly discussing and outlining our plans for the day, left me feeling disheartened, yet simultaneously, I am filled with excitement for the adventures that lie ahead.

Initially, when I first stumbled upon the opportunity to participate in this field school, I was thoroughly intrigued, but my confidence wavered, unsure if I possessed enough experience and knowledge to partake. Fortunately, I seized the opportunity, and from the very first day, I was welcomed with open arms by a community of individuals who made me feel right at home. Their warmth and camaraderie eased any apprehension I had, and whenever I found myself uncertain on site, there was always somebody ready to extend a helping hand.

Beyond the acquisition of new knowledge and experiences, this field school introduced me to a remarkable group of people whom I genuinely hope to maintain contact with. The process of getting to know each individual and discovering their unique paths that led them to the study of archaeology has been an extraordinary journey in itself. Reflecting upon our first day together, it is truly remarkable to witness the deep connections that formed among us in a mere four weeks.

I am profoundly grateful to James, Kate, Michael, and Dan for their guidance and wealth of knowledge throughout the duration of this course. Their mentorship provided a solid foundation for my venture into field work, and I will forever cherish this opportunity as I aspire to continue my journey within the realm of archaeology.

Below, I have attached a selection of photos, capturing moments that showcase some of the highlights from my time spent on site.

My first experience excavating a unit with the best team I could have asked for. (L-R Melissa, Caleb, Abigail, and Jada)
A tray of heavy debris left after flotation- I really enjoyed our day in the lab, sorting and cleaning artifacts.
Best of both worlds- Since i’m in a joint major in forensics and anthropology, stumbling across faunal material were some of the most exciting moments for me.
1852 Half-Penny token- The most exciting find in all of my units.
A very blurry polaroid photo of everyone on the last day of the course.

— Jada Schroeder

Student Blog — Field School Reflections

Here’s a post by Cierra sharing her field school experience. It has been wonderful to see how everyone developed their skills over the month and really came through in the end! — Kate

When I signed up to take this course, I was both excited and nervous. Excited because I have been wanting to participate in a field school for a while now, and nervous because I had no idea what it would be like and who else would be there. However, within a few days of class, all of my nervousness was gone and only the excitement remained. Even though it was difficult and tiring work at times, I looked forward to going into the field every day.

One of the things I did that I will remember the most was getting to excavate a 2×2 unit for the first time. I really enjoyed it because Alyssa and I worked on the same one for about three days, and it was nice to see the progress we had made on our own with the new skills we had learned. We also found some interesting artifacts, most notably the bowl of a spoon. It was one of the first larger finds in the unit, and honestly I had never been so excited to see half of a rusty spoon in my life.

A particularly pretty piece of ceramic Alyssa and
I found in our first 2×2.
Ceramic from a different unit, which I found very interesting because of its green and pink pattern as opposed to the more common blue decoration.
The bowl of a spoon, a very exciting find!

I also got to excavate a unit at the Indigenous site Kiiktanong Mash’iing, which is an opportunity that I am incredibly grateful for. It was really interesting to see the differences between Indigenous pottery and the ceramics we found at the historical site, and I learned a lot about how to identify the pottery from many people at that site. Additionally, up to that point I had not found any faunal remains in any of the units I had dug in previously, and as a forensic anthropology student, I was pretty disappointed. I did however find many faunal remains in the 1×1 unit I excavated with Erik at this site, and I enjoyed putting my bone identifying skills to the test whenever they would show up in the screen.

The last two days of the field school were bittersweet. Everyone at BcGn-17 worked together to quickly excavate a unit that was right next to one that had part of a wall in it. I knew we would be unable to discover the full extent of the wall, but I still had a lot of fun working together as a team, and it was really cool to see how much progress we could all make in one day. We found a lot of really interesting artifacts in that unit as well, and even though we ended up being unable to see the rest of the wall due to previous excavation, it was still satisfying to know that it did continue, and that we had found an important cultural feature at the site.

Most of the artifacts that were found in the unit we excavated at BcGn-17 during the last two days of the field school.

While I learned many valuable archaeological skills that I am certain I will carry with me to my future studies, I think that it is very important that I mention how everyone that I worked with positively shaped my experience. The field school was so enjoyable to me because of all of the people who were a part of it. I am typically very quiet and often keep to myself, but everyone was so welcoming, and it allowed me to really come out of my shell. From excavation to laser tag, I always felt as if I was a part of the group. I am very glad that I met and got to work with you all!

Overall, this field school was a very positive experience that I will never forget, and I am excited to carry the skills I learned with me to my future endeavours.

— Cierra Jenkins

Student Blog — Two Buttons, a Coin, and a Minion

I can attest, Adam’s game is quite entertaining on site! — Kate

May 18th, 2023. Taking a photo of a finished unit using a drone! The wonders of technology.

We’re almost done with the field school! Tomorrow (or maybe today when you read this), we’ll be backfilling all the units in preparation for leaving the site. I’ve had a great time digging on both the historical and the Indigenous sites.

A coin with the faded likeness of a young Queen Victoria.
A mother of pearl button.

Working on two different sites has been extremely helpful to learn how to identify a range of artifacts. The differences between the 1800s and Late-Middle Woodland ceramics are quite significant! Who would have thought several hundred years and two different cultures would produce different-looking ceramics? I’ve volunteered at Trent’s archaeology lab sorting before so I already knew that, but it’s been very helpful to learn how to identify Indigenous pottery in the field. It looks very different when it’s still wet and covered in dirt.

I worked primarily on the larger historical site in a few 2x2m units. Since the units I’ve been digging in have had high artifact densities, I got my fair share of ceramic sherds, nails, glass shards, and even two buttons and a coin! The soil went through the screens pretty easily, and most pieces contrasted quite easily on the gray metal of the screens. Black or orange metal, white ceramics, or brown pieces of bone quickly became easy to spot amongst the rocky soil we were digging in. 

Field Finds from May 18, 2023

Eventually, I decided I needed something else to do while I sifted the soil. The site was largely devoid of noise other than some quiet music or the shaking of screens. My natural solution to this problem was a variation on your classic “Guess the Animal” game I call “I Have an Animal For You”. Instead of being asked only yes/no questions, I answered questions in any amount of detail I felt necessary. For example, assuming the animal is a walrus, Someone may ask “Does it live on the land?” I would respond “Sort of? Half the time it does I suppose”. It was entertaining for me and excruciating for my digging partner Kelsey. We took turns of course, but we quickly learned that I am very shockingly good at guessing animals, and Kelsey wasn’t. As Kelsey struggled to guess the creature, the whole site eventually joined in to help her. After nearly ten agonizing minutes of guesses from across the site, somebody finally guessed a Minion as a joke, and the collective groan from the site when I confirmed the creature could have moved a mountain. 

As a site, we’ve been playing this game while we sift for nearly two weeks now, and I’ve found it’s significantly improved morale. The constant shouting of guesses has brought the site closer as friends and made us all significantly more knowledgeable about the kinds of sharks (thanks Kelsey).

It’s been a long road getting from there to here, but the field school is coming to a close. While I’m a little sad, my arms and lower back are certainly eager for it to end. Hopefully, I’ll get to do some more CRM work this summer! I really enjoyed digging and sifting through soil. I felt like a pirate looking for buried treasure! One man’s trash and all that.

— Adam Stein