Hello! My name is Tiffany and I am a senior Anthropology and History double major. I decided to sign up for the Broad River Archaeological Project because I wanted to gain more field experience in archaeology. My first time in the field was spent abroad in the Ifugao Province in the Philippines, so I was very excited to learn what excavation is like within my home state! So far I have already begun to learn a lot about how to conduct archaeological excavations within wooded areas, as well as how to set up a unit arbitrarily. Each week in the field, I cannot wait to come back to discover and learn more about archaeology.
When Day 4 of excavations started, I thought it was going to be a bad day. I woke up nauseous and I was worried that I would not be able to push through the entire day. It was very cold and my unit team was also feeling under the weather. Last week, we were able to reach the second level of Unit 6 for the entire 2 x 2. The goal for today was to try and reach the layer of soil that was darker than the light mottles which were showing up in Level 2. The darker models signify that the plow zone of the soil has been dug through. Aiming to reach Level 3, we had to trowel carefully in case the dark soil appeared faster than we expected. The hardest part when digging was cutting through and getting past the tree roots. If the roots were tiny, they were not as bad to cut through. However, if they were large it could possibly ruin your lowest point or even cause the walls of the unit to fall if not careful.
With this in mind, we had to dig from 50 cm below datum (cmbd) to 60 cmbd to clear Level 3. My unit team (Kate, Elena, and I) get along very well. When we are not shoveling, or troweling out dirt from the unit, we are rotating the responsibility of screening buckets and scanning the screen for possible artifacts. Since opening Level 3, we are finding more and more artifacts of interest. So far we have collected small pebbles, ceramic sherds, lithic flakes, and a large rock! When we first began digging our first day, we found nothing within the first level. Now we are beginning to frequently find artifacts which make me excited for what we are possibly going to find in the upcoming field days!
My favorite tool and method for digging is my trowel, Isabela. There is something calming about the quiet sound of scraping across the dirt each time when we are clearing a level. I am having to use a shovel for the first time during fieldwork and it feels very unnatural to me because I am used to solely using my trowel. When shoveling, sometimes I fear that I am taking out too much soil so I am slowly becoming better at scraping the dirt, little by little to keep the unit floor equal as we dig.
Although it was cold the entire day, I believe that my team and I did well because we were able to complete Level 3 and trowel sweep the entire unit for a closing picture. Once all the paperwork and FS numbers were assigned to our artifacts, we were able to relax and be proud of all the hard work and effort that we did that day. I am looking forward to Day 5!
We arrived at the site around 8:45 a.m. and after several days our crew has developed its rhythm. We removed the thick plastic covering we use to cover our units: the previous week had been reasonably dry and this task was quickly accomplished.
So far, we have been working in our initial teams of three. Each group has been assigned its own 2m x 2m meter unit to excavate in levels. The first day was spent plotting our units and clearing the area. The second and third days we moved down two levels so that on February 3 our unit was ready to begin level 3, moving from 50 cm to 60 cm below datum. As we moved through our unit, several buckets screened revealed about a dozen potsherds and rocks, including one large piece of fire cracked rock.
About mid-morning we noticed the mottling that had appeared in the previous level was appearing in larger more linear arrangements. At the end of our third level it had become clear that we were looking at plow scars, indicating that the forest in which we stood had once been plowed for farm land. At 11:30 we took our break for lunch. By now I’ve worked out the right amount of food I need to be comfortably full for the afternoon. It’s about double what I brought for the first day. Also, as a bonus, we now have a coffee maker for the post lunch slump.
A little after noon we went back to work and wrapped up level three with a trowel scraping and routine paper work. We met with Dr. White and observed the differences in the plow scars for the “upstairs” and “downstairs” units. As our site contains active units on top of the hill as well as at the bottom we have designated the lower units to be the "downstairs." Dr. White advised us on our course of action and we began our first natural level, seeking to remove the lighter color sand of the plow scars and create a level that was uniform in its dark color, if uneven in depth. We wrapped up our fourth level shortly after two o’clock and so began the process of closing the site for the week.
After a routine day, we logged our artifacts and covered the units. Each day on site we work faster and uncover more artifacts and I find that before we have even arrived back in Columbia, I am excited for the progress to be made the next week as we work through our levels.