On the 5th day of our industrious and fruitful dig we couldn’t have worked under better weather. Bright sunshine with a stiff cold breeze: it literally couldn’t get any better. This time Scott and I, who had been working with Jim on the profile wall, were reassigned back to the original 4m x 4m block split into quadrants that were being worked by separate groups. I was sent to Unit 5 to work with Shane and Sam while two other students were sent to replace us with Jim.
Unit 5, I came to learn, was plagued with roots. Luckily they were far enough down by the time I got there that it wasn’t as horrible as some had pitched it to be. Kudos to them for all the hard work. The upside to Unit 5 was the myriad of artifacts found within each bucket we screened. If the previous levels collection bags were any indication then whoever was screening was bound to find a ton of cool stuff. In any case the first thing we set about doing was finishing some paperwork for the previous level (they had been instructed to "skip: a level and just have one large level 3 ending at the base of the plowzone) and setting up level 4 for excavation. While Sam opted to do that Shane and I set about cleaning up the floor walls as well as gently reveal the plow scar features. This was done by the gradual light scraping with a trowel along the bottom and wouldn’t you know it they began to appear rather rapidly throughout the floor of the unit.
After the approval of Dr. White he then explained that the next step was to remove the dirt from the plowscars as the other groups around us had begun to do. After some observation, it seemed relatively simple and we set about doing it right or at least attempting to. After the first few awkward strikes into the dirt we got into a rhythm of scooping out the scars. Someone even suggested using a spoon to dig them out if they were too slim and honestly it seemed the perfect tool.
Nevertheless once that task was completed we set about shovel skimming and piece-plotting into the next level (in Zone 2). Something new to many if not all of us. This using the shovel with finesse which may sound a bit like an oxymoron but there is a technique for scraping away the dirt in fine paper thin levels. Following a quick learning curve this was mastered…well maybe grasped. Mastered may be overzealous.
The reason for the feathery touch with the shovels was to uncover but leave in place artifacts all over the unit. These we marked with a pin and some bright orange flagging tape. Once most of the floor had been marked with little pins and we really couldn’t walk around without hitting any it was time to plot them. Yet another part of archaeology that started slow and picked up the pace. But like before we picked up the pace with some practice and with the help of two folding rulers spread on our boundaries like an X and Y axis and the trusty earsplitting screech of the laser level we mapped all of the artifacts and bagged them individually for later analysis.
Before we knew it we were out of time and had to pack everything up halfway through dropping pins on our next level of artifacts. I thought I’d be too attached to the "downstairs" profile wall to enjoy digging anywhere else but I was way off. I couldn’t be more excited to get back to Unit 5 and keep at it. If only there wasn’t going to be gallons worth of the last storm waiting for us on the tarps Friday morning.
Alarm goes off—it’s 6:45 AM and 29 degrees outside. Honestly, way too cold to be shoveling and trowling through dirt all day, but I must get out of my bed and get to work. Although I have never been a morning person, I manage to roll out of bed, put on sweatpants, make a peanut butter sandwich, and finally bring myself to meet with my field school peers so we can get the ball rolling and start our fifth day of field work.
We arrive on site around 8:45 AM, once we manage to crawl out of our unassigned assigned car seats we gather around our 4m x 4m excavation block “upstairs.” First things first, we have to remove the two sheets of tarp that successfully protected the three 2m x 2m units from any precipitation that managed to reach our dig site. A couple of weeks ago, the process of removing water through the use of buckets and a trembling single file line of cold, wet, and tired students was traumatizing. Needless to say, this is probably the most tedious part of our day, but thankfully, it did not rain that much over the week, so there were only a couple of gallons of freezing water to remove.
After Professor White goes over a couple of minor pointers and expectations for the day, he decides to switch up what stations we are assigned to. Every day before this week, I was assigned Unit 6 (the southeast 2m x 2m corner unit of the 4 x 4) with my peers Kate and Tiffany. Dr. White wanted to switch two people out of the block and transfer them “downstairs” to work on the profile wall with Jim Legg. He asked my little Unit 6 crew if we enjoyed where we were, I enthusiastically exclaimed “I love Unit 6,” to which Dr. White promptly said, “alright, Elena, you get to move downstairs.” At the time, I was mildly devastated. But, after being able to observe first hand Jim Legg’s perfected excavating technique, I am glad I got moved. Not only was my only job screening and filling out paper work, but I also got to experience a master at work. He makes every cut with such ease and perfection that I finally had to ask him how long it took him to master the art of excavating, to which he said his first dig site was excavated perfectly. Unbelievable.
Though this day turned out to be pretty ordinary and uneventful, we did manage to uncover a misshapen form of some type of point, although we can not accurately claim it as such due to its asymmetrical form, but it was definitely shaped this way purposefully. This specific cultural material was the only individual piece that struck out to me in the midst of FCR (fire-cracked rock), pebbles, small pieces of pottery, and minor amounts of quartz flaking debris.