Today was day 5 of field school (Friday May 27) and it was our first full excavation day at the 2017 field school site and was tons of fun! Being outside and digging in the dirt is what people think of when they hear the word archaeologists. I don’t know that there’s ever much glamor in being out in the sun digging holes, but archaeologists make dirty look clean.
To begin, excavating is a much slower process than is usually thought. Each person is assigned their own section of a unit or entire unit depending on the size. Due to the amount of time that you need to spend carefully examining every centimeter of your unit for artifacts this can take a long time. Artifacts aren’t always large ceramic sherds, and it is very easy to miss a bead, fragments of charred bone, or lithic flakes.
Included in the time that it takes for one person to clear dirt away from an artifact while leaving it in tact, for some there is an even more precarious task: making sure your sidewalls are perfectly straight. This is important so that you do not dig too much of a site and infringe on other portions of someone’s unit.
The group worked hard all morning and after taking a break for lunch, tried to get as much as we possible could done before the end of the day. For me, excavation is what I always dreamed of doing when I read books about archaeology as a child and to do it now is very surreal. I can’t wait to get back to my unit and keep digging with my unit team of Monyssha and Mary! (Assuming no children have touched my precious sidewalls.)