CAP Field School: Week Three

Since having the large tree roots removed last week, Cooper and I have been able to work much faster in Unit B. Despite having the large roots that haunted us from the beginning removed, the remnants of the former tree hadn’t given up. As we went deeper, however, we kept finding more and more roots until eventually, we came across two very large roots that extended across the entire unit. Since we were no strangers to digging around roots, this surprise didn’t delay our progress too much. Although it was frustrating, our prior experience had prepared us and allowed us to react accordingly. We knew how to dig around the roots and complete levels without taking them out, even though we desperately wanted to rip them out. The frustrations I experienced with the roots, however, made it so much more satisfying when we finally cut them out. After finishing level 5, the roots were visible enough to cut out without disturbing the floor of our unit. Although I didn’t personally cut the roots out (shout out to Cooper, who did all the root work), it was so satisfying to see how clean our unit was without them. We had dealt with having roots in our unit throughout the entire field school and it was weird to see our unit looking so clean. I’m sure we will run into more roots eventually and we will know how to handle them but for the time being, I’m going to enjoy our clean, rootless unit.

Cement feature running along Unit B's south wall.

Cement feature running along Unit B’s south wall.

Although we found many roots, we haven’t been finding many artifacts. After finding the layer of nails and metal artifacts that I discussed in my blog post last week, we’ve only come across a few nails, some bits of glass, and some mortar. It has been a little disappointing to screen bucket after bucket and find nothing, I won’t lie. However, we did find something very exciting… ANOTHER WALL! Maybe. When recording previous levels, we had noticed that the soil along our south wall was significantly lighter than the rest. While shovel skimming, Cooper noticed something solid and we used our trowels and brushes to uncover a wall that runs east to west along our south wall. However, this wall is a little different than the walls that Units A and D have come across. Their walls connect and were made with larger rocks. Our wall looks more like old concrete and is a little deeper than the other walls. Due to these differences, we think this may have been part of a sidewalk or walkway as opposed to a foundation wall. Since discovering this wall, we have gone down two more levels, 20 cm, and we still haven’t reached the bottom. It will be quite interesting to see how deep it goes and see if we find any other parts of the structure. Artifacts are always cool to find, but learning about the structure of a building on my own campus is a unique experience that I can only have during this field school. Finding these structures has also helped me to focus on the larger context of the site as opposed to simply just focusing on the artifacts in my unit. With only a little over a week left, I feel like we still have a lot more to learn about Station Terrace however, these past three weeks have been a great learning experience and have solidified my plans to continue archaeology in the future.

Another view of the cement feature along Unit B's south wall.

Another view of the cement feature along Unit B’s south wall.

CAP Field School: Week Two

After a week of digging around tree roots and finding nothing but nails, Cooper and I began to find some interesting things in Unit B. One of those things happened to be a lot more nails. Underneath a layer of clay, there was a layer of darker soil that consisted almost entirely of nails. This was interesting because although we had found many nails before this, we had never seen so many in one area. This only occurred within a small layer of dark soil and not many nails were found in the subsequent layers of soil. There were so many nails that it looked like a whole bag of nails was dropped. We aren’t quite sure yet why there was a layer of nails but perhaps, with further excavation we can gain more information.

Unit B South Wall.

Unit B South Wall.

Clip from Unit B.

Clip from Unit B.

Around that layer of nails, we also found a few metal artifacts that were interesting. We found a wheel and what appears to be a door stopper in our first level which was exciting since these were the first artifacts we found that weren’t nails. Although we didn’t find nearly as much in our second level, we did find a metal clip and what looks to be a coin or button. Both artifacts were quite corroded so it was hard to tell figure out exactly what they were. Hopefully after some time in the lab, we can gain more information on these artifacts.

Disc - possibly a button or small coin. Hopefully cleaning it up in the lab will tell us more!

Disc – possibly a button or small coin. Hopefully cleaning it up in the lab will tell us more!

I won’t lie, excavating our unit has been very frustrating at times. Our unit was at a weird angle and had countless tree roots, large and small, that made it very difficult to dig. It took us over a week just to finish our first level, but I’ve learned that’s archaeology. By having to deal with these difficulties, I’ve learned that archaeology isn’t easy because the dirt doesn’t care if you want to have a nice clean, square unit. We had to take our time, be patient, and always have root clippers handy. It was frustrating sometimes to see other units finishing levels but I think having to deal with these additional difficulties has made my experience more useful. Without encountering these difficulties early on, a young archaeologist may have an idealistic idea of archaeology and subsequently, unable to deal with challenges at a time when the stakes are higher. I’m glad that I can encounter some of these challenges during this learning experience because that will make me better prepared for the future. After finishing our first level, which took over a week, we finished our second level in just over a day. As we start our third level our unit looks completely different than it did a week ago because the large roots along our west wall that have characterized our unit have been removed. I was relieved at first because it will make everything much easier, but, in a way, I’ll miss the roots because I’ll miss the challenge. However, we still have a long way to go and undoubtedly many challenges to face. I can’t wait to see what other challenges lie ahead!

CAP Field School: Week One

Desiree excavating in her unit.

Desiree excavating in her unit.

The first week of the 2017 field school has quickly passed and, although my unit hasn’t found much of anything yet, I have learned so much. I’ve learned how to shovel skim, measure elevation,and dig guide holes. I’ve learned that archaeology takes patience from the many tree roots in our unit that have made things a little difficult. Most importantly, however, I’ve learned that I definitely want to be an archaeologist.

Coming into this field school I was a little scared that after getting hands on experience, I wouldn’t like archaeology. Although I’ve taken many archaeology classes, I wasn’t quite sure that I would like digging all day in the sun. Many past classes have strengthened my love for anthropology and have confirmed that I would like to be an anthropologist but this field school has been my first opportunity to apply those skills.  After just one week, however, I know that this is definitely the field for me. Even though our unit has had some difficulties getting around tree roots and finding anything but nails, I am having so much fun. Of course I hope that I eventually find something cool, but despite that I’ve still had a lot of fun and learned a lot.