Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 23, 2011 Day Three: Mapping Surface Artifacts and Shovel Pits

On this day, when I arrived I saw Professor Hartley setting up the transit that we have been learning to use these past few weeks. Fortunately, the Anthropology Department agreed to have it calibrated! A small group of students were working up the hill, on the east side of the site, with some of the surface artifacts that were found last week.

I spent some time this week noting our topographic setting. The site is covered with grass of varying heights. I noticed some animals burrowed several tunnels in the area. I imagine their presence is a usual problem for archaeologists. However, it was interesting to see what the deeper soil looked like, from the animal’s tunnels, especially since at this point we hadn’t broken any ground. There are little purple flowers in the grass, as well as clovers. Turkeys sometimes walk through the field, and I feel like they’re getting a little closer each week!

While some students worked with the GPS to locate the distance and angles of each surface artifact from the SW point, the rest of us worked with the transit to do the same. I feel like this week it was much easier to use the transit, and I feel pretty comfortable with the knobs that control focus and direction. To get the angle, one student held a plum bob over the artifact. Another student, using the transit lined the string up with center of the scope, making sure it was focused. Then, by looking where the two zeros line up on the screen, we figured out the degrees of the angle. We measured the distances with a meter tape, and later a stadia rod. It was interesting to learn how to “break” the tape measure when dealing with hills. It was something I had wondered about, and the answer was surprisingly simple. We broke the hill into separate sections and held the tape level, above the ground. I recorded small descriptions and took a picture of each artifact. After reading some other people’s posts I got some great pointers for the future. It had not even occurred to me to include something to compare its size! Next time I think I too will use a quarter to show the artifacts size in pictures. I expect we’ll actually measure the items later, but it’d be nice for the photos.

In the afternoon, we began our “shovel pits.” Brenna showed Andrew, Maria, and I how to use an auger. It was really exciting. I could probably use one or two more tries to really feel comfortable using the transit, but it was nice to start going into the earth. We began by checking the length (1m) of the auger and diameter of the bottom portion (15cm.) Then, by twisting the handle we turned the bottom barrel portion, digging a hole. Quickly, I realized that it required a bit of strength to start the auger. I happily let Andrew start it. Every 20cm we dug, we stopped and sifted the dirt. We also recorded a description of the soil and took a sample of it. We recovered quite a few interesting items. Some will have to be tested, and some will have to be looked at closer before we can know for certain what they are. We found what looked like pieces of tile, burnt bone fragments, a piece of modern metal, and pieces of glass. The soil change was dramatic. I was shocked to see it get so clay-like it would hardly go through the sifter. It then grew very sandy with “lome” or chunks of decomposing granite.


  1. oh hard as hard as I push it doesn't budge. ughh clay soil =(


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