Things are starting to wind down on site. The students have mostly finished their assessment units and we are focusing on tidying up the open exavations on the structure. The fourth-year students have finished their excavation in the second operation area.
Although we didn’t have any rain, there was a constant steady wind which meant we felt a bit flayed by the end of the day!
Here are the answers to last Thursday’s I-Spy:
Tomorrow we are in the lab, there’s a lot of cataloguing and artifact processing to be done!
Due to the rain, we spent May 25th in the lab, and the students began learning how to catalogue artifacts systematically. This involves dividing the cleaned artifacts into types of material such as glass, metal, bone, ceramics, plastics, brick, etc. and then further subdividing these categories into groups of material. This is where we really can start to see the kinds of artifacts they have recovered and try to think about what they can tell us about the site we are excavating in terms of what the site was used for, when it was used, and who was using it.
On Friday, we headed back out to site, and continued work there. We are at a point now where we need to start documenting the walls we have uncovered. This involves drawing plans that are to scale on graph paper, and also photographing them so we can enter those photos into computer software that will let us do photogrammetry with them.
Photogrammetry is using photographs to measure the distance between objects when surveying or mapping. Here is a site detailing how photogrammetry can be very useful for archaeological excavation.
Not everyone was planning today, however, as there is still a lot of excavation that needs to be done. Bjorn and Faisal have been working steadily at removing bulldozed fill from a section of what be believe is a basement to the structure.
We haven’t been recovering as many artifacts lately due to the phase of where we are in the excavations, but here is an interesting I-Spy tray!
We have come to the end of three weeks of the field school, halfway done already. I don’t know about anyone else, but the time seems to have flown by!
With Victoria Day weekend upon us, Professor Conolly decided to give the crew Friday off so they could enjoy an extra long weekend. While they are off enjoying themselves, this gives us some time to regroup and figure out what needs to happen in the last half of the course. As a result, we decided to have a lab day today instead of Friday and try and get caught up on artifact processing.
We had another visit by Marketing and Communications today. As they got to see what we do in the field, we invited them to see the lab work as well. I don’t claim to speak for them, but I think they found it very interesting and illuminating to shadow our progress.
Today in lab was more artifact washing, and bagging by material type, being exceedingly careful to make sure material excavated from the same context stays together. You can spend ages painstakingly excavating a site and have it all come crashing down if you don’t take care to keep the integrity of the material intact. Mixing artifacts across contexts means the interpretive potential they can give you is almost worthless.
In a site like ours, where there has been so much mixture and disturbance over a long time period, clues as to the location of certain types or ages of material is going to be crucial in giving us an interpretive backbone for the site.
Trevor spent some time designing a database to record the context information of the different parts of site we have been excavating. Each time we excavate a portion of the site, it is transformed into a paper record. From there, we transfer the information from paper to a digital format. Sam also started digitising aerial photos of the site and area around the site to create a site map.
Selena began photographing representative samples of the artifacts to include in the reports we need to submit to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport. At this point we have managed to wash all the material excavated to date, and most of it has been bagged by context. The next task is to start looking at the different material types and cataloguing the artifacts we have recovered.
Here is some I-Spy to head into the long weekend!
Check back tomorrow for a posting about an interesting artifact I discovered in lab today.
This was our first full week in the field, and Fridays are our scheduled lab day. The main task today was to wash as many artifacts as we could so that we can start analysing and cataloguing them.
Our crew is absolutely amazing and we powered through most of the artifacts we have recovered to date! I mentioned before that for every day in the field, there are at least two lab days needed. Washing the artifacts is the first step—next we have to catalogue and analyse this material. When we get to that point we’ll let you have a peek into that process.
So, it is crucial that we stay on top of things, but with this crew I don’t think that will be a problem. I think all of us were ready for a break from digging, and it was a great chance to chat and get to know each other better and take a closer look at what everyone has been finding.
To lead into the weekend, here is some more Friday I-Spy. As usual, answers will be posted on Monday.
And that is two weeks completed of our six-week program! See you Monday.
Friday is our scheduled lab day, where we wash and catalogue the artifacts collected during the rest of the week.
While the first thing that most people associate with archaeology is digging up artifacts, this is only one part of archaeological research. Once artifacts are removed from the ground, they aren’t very informative until we analyse them, and that happens in the lab. For some students, they quickly discover that the lab side of things is their true passion. For every day of fieldwork, it is a good rule of thumb that there are at least two days of labwork to deal with the artifacts recovered.
In this part of the world, our weather and seasonality means it is common to ‘make hay while the sun shines’, and thus excavate as much as one can during the window of ground workability and visibility. The winter then becomes lab time, where the artifacts amassed during the spring-fall field season are carefully analysed, documented, and reports are written based on the results from the analysis.
For the field school, however, we try to schedule in lab time each week, and also rotate students through various activities according to their interests and aptitude.
Today the students worked on washing the artifacts we recovered yesterday, and setting them out on trays to dry. The next scheduled lab day (or rain day if we get rained out), the dry artifacts are separated by material type and analysed. We had a backlog of stuff from earlier fieldwork, so the students also documented that material and applied some of the information that they had learned in their intensive workshop on historical artifacts.
Here’s a sneak peek at a small sample of the artifacts we recovered yesterday. These tray layouts reminded me of I-Spy games, so let’s play a game, and I’ll post the answers Monday.