Artifact of the Day for May 17th, 2017 — The North Wall

To date, we have been featuring artifacts of the day that are easily understandable as artifacts. Artifacts are things made or modified by humans, so, the coins, buttons, nails, ceramics, glass etc. that we have been finding are all artifacts.

Today’s artifact is a wall! We don’t normally consider things like houses or walls or roads to be artifacts but they are. In fact, we can think of a house as an assemblage of various artifacts that have been combined into a new thing, that just happens to be hard to take into the lab to analyse!

Why is this wall so exciting?

Well, we have made a huge amount of progress on parts of the site. For the most part, the students have been broken into smaller task groups and are working away on particular areas of the site. We are extremely pleased with their progress to date. Even with all this progress, however, there are still some major questions about what is going on with this site!

For example, we have uncovered many walls, but the relationship between these walls and the artifacts around them is still unclear. As we excavate, theories about the site are constantly being created, tested and revised. One big question we have had is if the northern-most wall extends to the west of the visible rectangular area we have already uncovered.

This is very important to find out, as it will tell us which parts of the site were likely outside the structure and which were likely inside. There are several competing theories operating at the moment, and it is quite satisfying to find proof of something that is based on a hunch or impression.

We have bits of walls popping out here and there, but no clear link between them. So, one task today was for Emily and Nic to work on a 2-metre-square excavation unit situated around the known north-west corner of the wall. One hypothesis was that the wall extended to the west, suggesting the structure encompassed a larger area. The competing hypothesis was that the wall ended at the corner visible, and thus the area to the west was actually space outside a structure.

Emily at the start of the day, in the 2x2m excavation unit. This photo is looking north, and the rocks to the lower right you see is the known back wall to structure 1.
Emily at the start of the day, in the 2x2m excavation unit. This photo is looking north, and the rocks to the lower right you see is the known back wall to structure 1.

As Emily and Nic worked on their excavation, they learned at some point, a layer of orange sandy soil has been bulldozed around over the edges of the site. We found evidence of this in other areas we have excavated, and we know it has something to do with levelling the surrounding area to construct a playing field.

Under the layer of orange sand was a layer of dark greyish brown soil, which has artifacts in it like nails, glass, ceramics, a horse bit, and other metal fastenings. Excitingly, they also found evidence of a course of stones in line with the known wall.

Emily and Nic are excited to show you their wall! This photo is looking east.
Emily and Nic are excited to show you their wall! This photo is looking east.

You can see the known wall behind and to the right of where Emily is standing. It is no longer in line with the buried wall, because at some point, the stones on the known wall have slumped over to the south. Emily is standing outside the structure, and Nic is standing inside the structure.

This suggests the entire area bounded by walls was inside a structure or structures. Other evidence from other parts of the site suggests perhaps this part of the structure may have been dug out to be a basement or root cellar. Faisal and Bjorn have been working at removing more of this fill layer from another section of this potential cellar area. Trevor and Sam have been working hard in a small trench at the south-western part of the site to fully expose one section of wall. Jacob and Brianne have been working on exposing the southern section of wall from the structure. Raine has been working with Shannon and Marielle in a second excavation area across the field.

Trevor working in the trench. By the end of the day, Sam and Trevor had excavated down to 80cm deep! A lot of hard work!
Trevor working in the trench. By the end of the day, Sam and Trevor had excavated down to 80cm deep! A lot of hard work!
Brianne and Jacob excavating a slot-trench along the southern wall boundary. Sam is in the background at the screen, and Trevor is behind the plywood sheet, which is placed there to shore up the wall.
Brianne and Jacob excavating a slot-trench along the southern wall boundary. Sam is in the background at the screen, and Trevor is behind the plywood sheet, which is placed there to shore up the wall.
Emily and Nic are at the top of the photo, working on their 2x2m unit by the north wall. Jacob and Brianne are at the south wall.
Emily and Nic are at the top of the photo, working on their 2x2m unit by the north wall. Jacob and Brianne are at the south wall.
Raine is taking elevation data across the field to the second excavation area. She's standing on a bucket because someone tall (James) set up the totalstation this morning.
Raine is taking elevation data across the field to the second excavation area. She’s standing on a bucket because someone tall (James) set up the totalstation this morning.

We also had a visit from Marketing and Communications, and they interviewed some of the students and filmed some video of the excavation. They’ve also published a news article about our excavation.

We look forward to getting back on site for Tuesday and further refining our hypotheses! Tomorrow is a lab day, so I will be reporting on our progress there.

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