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September 17, 2007
On the 1st day (Sept. 17) we met up at the Institute and walked down to the FBC to start setting up trenches. The first one, which is on the slope on the right of the FBC, was difficult, since the levels were so uneven that we had to use wooden stakes, which were bent and a little too flexible when it came to measuring out the string. More people kept showing up around 2, and then again at 3, so we kept setting up more trenches. My second was on the left side of the front lawn, and the third and last was on the left side on this grassy strip by Thomas Street. Both of these went up easier than the first, partially because of the level nature of the ground and partially because I had more practice.
Jeff and I started taking up the grass and were joined shortly by Maddy. It's a bit crowded working with 2 other people on a 1 x 1 trench. We were a little overzealous and didn't realize we had gone down 17cm instead of 10. Just after we finished the first SU, some guys from EHS came to tell us about soil safety and fit us for dust masks.
We finished SU 2 before the day was over, and then covered the trenches, packed up and went home. We found a whole bunch of glass shards and a whole bunch of nails and screws, and a piece of a brick and some ceramic pieces.
September 24, 2007
For the second week, I stayed in D4, this time working with Stephanie and Dan. Starting up went much faster this week since the trenches were already started and we had more of an idea of what was going on. For SU3, we dug around the large lump of clay in the center, taking the remainder of the trench down to 30 cm. We finally got the remaining grass up at the south end of the trench. It was slower work in SU 3, partially because of the clay that we were trying to avoid, and partially because there were a lot of rocks. Some of these rocks turned up later to be pieces of slag. It's also messier trying to get dirt out of a corner where the level is so much lower than the clay surrounding it. We found a bunch of little nails, about an inch long, more glass, some pieces of ceramic and brick. There was only one sifter for everyone, so there were a few times when we had to wait around for it. We'd just about finished SU3 when I had to leave early. We took a photo, in which I am extremely dirty.
October 1, 2007
This week, I was in D2, which started out as fairly uniform. There was a root across one of the corners (the Southwest, I think), but the dirt was the same shade all across. Stephanie and I worked on that for an hour until she went to class, finishing the SU from the previous week (only about 3 cm). We found some pottery, charcoal, and glass. Then Maddy arrived and we started working on a new SU. There started to be a different colored soil in the east side of the trench, so we made a new SU. Eventually we came down to a couple of largish rocks that were standing in the middle of the trench, which we started to work around. Jason Urbanus came during the day and helped out. We also found a layer of clay. It was a pretty nice day, not too hot. Apparently the last week, the workers in D2 needed dust masks, but this week the soil was not so dry, so we didn't need them.
This week we went first to the Nightingale Brown House on Benefit St. to do a geosurvey of the lawn. It was a beautiful day, but a little tricky in the sense that it was ambiguous whether a sweatshirt was needed or not. At any rate, first we laid out the chains (not really chains, but that's what Tommy called them) across the lawn, so that we could measure out half meter intervals when we were walking lines. I first did the magnetometer, which involved an intense battery pack harness pole contraption, which was sort of heavy, but since we switched off after about 13 lines, it wasn't an issue. Then a prospective student came, and we explained the project to her and later she helped us dig at the FBC. I later used the GEM II, which has a really cool trademark racing stripe on it. This was a lot easier to handle than the magnetometer. Around 4:20, we switched off and headed over to the FBC, where we took up where the first group had left off. Given that we didn't have a whole lot of time, we didn't get so far digging. I was in D2 again with Maia and the prospective, and we did not quite finish our SU, but we did find a piece of bone, some more brick, and some more shell pieces. Last week we had separated the trench into two SUs split North to South because there seemed to be different soil deposits on one side, but after going through a few more centimeters, we decided that the trench was becoming uniform again, so we tried to level out the two SUs so that we could combine them. We ran out of time before we could acheive this though, so it'll be for next week's crew.
This week I was again in D2, first with Stephanie. Apparently during the community dig day, they had found a few clusters of porcelain sherds, and sure enough within about 20 minutes we found two more. The porcelain was extremely thin and flaky, and was consequently difficult to pick up. Stephanie also uncovered part of a pipe bowl, and later found another piece of it. Later, Dan joined me, and we dug down for a while through very sandy soil, which went quickly. We united SUs 6 and 7 into a single SU8. It was an unseasonably hot and sunny day and I'd forgotten to bring water. After a few hours, we had come across a number of bricks in the North end of the trench. There had also been two bricks which fell out of the baulk just before. So we uncovered the bricks, and then got to draw a top plan of them. There were 8 brick chunks, none of them whole. None of them had any markings on them either, but were just plain brick. After the top plan was finished, we dug some more, removing the brick. It took a very long time to count all of our finds, since in addition to the 8 large chunks, there were over 200 smaller pieces of brick, not to mention all the porcelain sherds, pieces of shell, metal, and charcoal.
This day was very cold, but once I started digging it was not so bad. I was alone in the trench until about 3 pm, which worked very well since the trench was getting too deep to effectively dig from the sides, and two people can not really fit in a 1m x 1m trench and still have room to dig. At this point, the trench was between 60 and 70 cm deep. After a time, Kate said to excavate only a 50cm x 50 cm section of the Northwest corner to speed the digging process. This turned out to be almost immediately sterile, although just a few centimeters above I had found about 8 large nails. I went through about 30 centimeters in this small section, finding absolutely nothing. The soil was extremely rocky though, and heavy. Sifting it was a pain since the buckets were so heavy and then after sifting I found nothing. A little after 3, Veronica came and she started digging a complementary 50 cm x 50 cm in the Southeast corner of the trench, while I sifted. Again, nothing was found. After the two sections were level, we drew a top plan, counted our scant finds, wrote in our journal, and closed the trench. It was very cold after we stopped actively digging. I helped a few other teams close their trenches and pack up the equipment, and then went home, very cold.
Week 7/ November 5th
This was the last day digging, except we weren't actually digging, so I guess it's more accurate to say that it was the last day outside. Whit and I did sections of D2, which took a while to set up, but once we got into a rhythm it went more quickly. Then we went over and did sections of D1, and started to take soil samples of D2. This was kind of difficult since the top of the trench was not necessarily the line used to measure from when the sections were drawn, so it was often hard to plot exactly where we were getting the soil samples from. Stephanie came and helped us, and we ended up taking soil samples of all the trenches. D4 was by far the most difficult, since each side had about 10 different layers that we had to get samples of. Because of the daylight savings (but backwards) it started to get dark just after 4, and by the time we were taking samples of C2, it was pretty much so dark that we were either guessing or just taking samples based on measurements. Meanwhile the rest of the team was doing backfill. We finished soil sampling in time to help with the last few trenches, which was harder physically, but was welcome, since it was so cold sitting around and drawing. It took a little longer than normal to clean up, and we ran out of dirt to fill up the trenches with towards the end, so we had to truck it over from another spill pile, but we finished around 5:35.
This was our first week in the lab. We were only there from 3pm-5:20, rather than 1-5:20, which was nice. The whole time was devoted to washing and sorting the finds. We took the find bags from the site and carefully washed all the artifacts/remains. The shell fragments turn into chalky paste when you get them wet, so we didn't wash those in the water. We also could not wash the metal pieces. The giant pieces of slag were difficult to wash properly. After they had been washed, we put all the finds on screens to dry, labeled by SU and trench. It was nice to end a day with clean hands for once!
This week, we started doing data analysis for our projects. My assignment is kaolin pipes, so I went around and picked up all the pipe fragments (Although I missed two and had to come back later), weighed them, measured their bores for dating purposes, and took pictures. I took a picture of the whole collection, since it was small - only 7 pieces - and then an individual picture of each find. There were three bowl fragments, two of which fit together, and four pipe stem fragments. The other two fragments that I missed and photographed later were bowl fragments, one of which had a pattern stamed onto it. The other pieces were not marked. I started to draw the bowl fragments, but ran out of time after I had drawn only one.