Student Blog — Notes from Mel

Another dispatch from Mel, I also want to thank Fraser for the delicious treats that we enjoyed today! — Kate

Thank you Fraser for the cookies and Rice Krispie treats.

Today was…a warm one! We all worked hard to clean our units and found some treasures in the process. All of this effort was helped by some delicious treats made by Fraser.  In our unit, Abigail found a large spike which was exciting.

Skewer marking the corner of a 2009 excavation unit.

So many nails were uncovered as well, including a horseshoe nail and a spiral type nail. We uncovered loads of brick and mortar fragments as well as fragments of glass and ceramics and even a pig’s tooth.

Closeup of 2009 unit corner marker.

Each day is a new adventure. So many artifacts, so little time. I unearthed another pipe stem fragment. They really appeal to me for some reason. I loved this image of team members taking a well deserved seat at lunch in their field chairs.

— Melissa Plavins

Start of the second week and artifact of the day for May 8th, 2023

In the frenzy of the site opening and getting our exavation units laid out, we haven’t really had a chance to designate an artifact of the day since we chose the metal gilt button. By popular choice, today’s artifact of the day was a very large metal spike or perhaps a piece of bar stock iron. It doesn’t appear to have had a head, or it has been broken off. The end is shaped and rounded, and it is square in crosss-section. This artifact was located in a unit that we have lain in to overlay the 2009 exavation grid. Somewhere lurking under the surface we hope to relocate some cedar planks. Perhaps this spike is related in some way to those planks.

Mel, Caleb, Abigail and Jada show off their spike!

Most of the students have finished the top 10 centimetres of their 2×2 units and are moving on to layers underneath. It is exciting to see what is hidden under the soil. The students are also practicing good excavation skills like keeping nicely vertical unit walls, and how to rely on their shovels for most of the work, and only switch to trowels when tidying up a layer. Another important part of the excavation process is filling in the correct forms to record the information gathered as the layer is removed.

Justyna using a trowel and Susannah using a square ended shovel to tidy their unit walls.

Another important skill our students have been developing is recognising artifacts when they are in the screen. As buckets of dirt are emptied and shaken through the mesh, the next step is to sort through what is left and pick out any artifacts from the remaining dirt, roots and stones.

These artifacts need to go into a bag labelled with the unit number, so we know not only where they came from but in which layer. This will help us to reconstruct past activity on the site later when analysing the artifacts and excavation details.

Cierra, Josh and Kelsey screen for artifacts.

Meanwhile, James and Michael revisited OA1, which has dried up a lot since last week. As they were trowelling around to see if they could locate the wall rocks which we think must be there, suddenly a void opened up and in the hole beneath we could see rocks laid closely together and some water lurking below the surface.

Rocks emerging from the mud and a mysterious water filled space in the ground.
Accidental renaissance dramatic reenactment of Michael and James finding the wall.

The Wellies have painstakingly cleared back the earth from the top course of rocks at the well, and I think were pretty pleased to deal with that pesky wire fence! They are set to begin drawing a plan of the rocks before they move on to excavating the well in the following days.

Josh and Sebastian demonstrate how to make the most of your break on site.

James tried out a new drone today, and managed to get some great overhead pictures of the excavation. Compared to the slapdash, hurriedly-rigged solutions we used to try to get overhead views of the excavation units, having drones available is amazing!

James piloting the drone (that black dot in the sky) to hover overhead while excavation continues.

It was a beautiful day to be on site, and we will see you tomorrow!