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

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