Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Artifacts & Excavation

Okay, so in the twisted little world of Maria, blogging is something you get to do for fun! I've been neglecting weekly posts in lieu of real homework other assignments, simply because I've been depriving myself of anything I consider pure fun while I'm overwhelmed with a dayjob + 13 units. Today's email from Charles served to remind me that, hello, posting to this blog constitutes part of my grade. So here we go!

Following are some photos from Saturday before last, the day that we had a visit from Ruben Mendoza, and the day we got to start opening up Real Excavation Pits. Mr. Mendoza gave us a presentation on artifacts that might be found in areas similar to ours. He also talked with much excitement about his Mission Solstice Survey project. It sounded pretty cool, so I looked him up online. Here's his Academia.com webpage; it's got a bio and some links to his papers and books: http://csumb.academia.edu/RubenMendoza

Here's Ruben showing us one of the many artifacts he brought along with him. The one he's holding up is a rounded tile game piece or bottle stopper. Gotta keep the bugs and dust outta that wine!

After Mr. Mendoza's presentation, we got back down to work. I was in a crew with Melissa, Elizabeth and Amber, and our task was to mark the official 5m x 1m boundaries of Trench 1 (T1). We did a fancy thing involving two measuring tapes (thanks for the loan, Hiro!) in order to get precise boundary measurements on account of the slope of the hill. The fancy thing is called triangulation, and I feel very lucky that my grade isn't dependent upon explaining it to you. Here's Melissa and Elizabeth wrapping pink cord around the metal stakes, once all of our boundary points were measured out.

And here's T1, all marked up and ready to go!

We found quite a few surface artifacts when we were clearing the area of grass and detritus before measuring out the boundaries. We piled them up to include with the other artifacts found in the 0 - 10 cm level. Some folks might just see a big pile o' rocks, but we students over at DSCQHR are Smart and see pieces of red tile, molded glass, and fired brick fragments.

Here is a photograph of a badass pickax, just because I really like it.

Later in the afternoon, we were joined by Stephen, Jamie and Kristen. We had more people digging than screening, so I wandered back down to the gardening shed to see if there were any more 1/4" screens. There weren't any of the large screens left, but I found this darling, single-person screen. It's made out of an old desk drawer! This was my view for the rest of the afternoon:

It felt pretty awesome to be starting in on the for-reals excavation pits (and trench!). I was pretty pooped by the end of the day, and didn't get a photo of T1 after we started digging, which is a shame. It looked very different after just a few hours: quite a big dent in the earth whereas in the morning it was just another indistinguishable part of the hill. It looks like we're switching pits/trenches every week; I'm looking forward to hearing about what else there is to be found in it!


  1. Very nice blog discussion Maria. I have no idea how one works full-time, does 13 units,... and digs.

  2. Thanks, David! In my experience, one has no life for 10 weeks... and one gets very cranky out at the site around 3:00 pm. ;) But I'm loving this class, and the camaraderie with my classmate archaeologists, so much that it makes it all worth it. :)

  3. Maria,

    I'm glad you included Dr. Mendoza's lecture, his research was so interesting! Working on T1 with you guys for a short time was really fun, the Trench is coming along nicely and hopefully next week digging will be a little bit easier with the rain we had!

  4. Hey Maria! Just looked at your email- it looks like you found Dr. Mendoza's website. Just in case you couldn't find the name of his publications dealing with Christohelios, here were the ones on the pamphlet he passed around:

    1. "Sacrament of the Sun: Eschatological Architecture and Solar Geometry in California Mission" (Boletine: The Journal of the California Mission Studies Association, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2005)

    2. "Forward Hispanic Sacred Geometry and the Architecture of the Divine" (Journal of the Southwest, Vol. 48, No. 4, Winter 2006)

    3. "Presidio Light: A Midwinter Solstice Event at the Presidio Chapel of Santa Barbara" (La Campana, Vol. 35, NO. 4, Fall 2009)


Feel free to comment on what you see & read here!