We are now nine days into the field school, and our units are starting to get deep enough that we made ourselves a step. Unfortunately, said step collapsed the first day we had it. This just goes to show how soft the soil is that we are working in. The farther down we have gone, the looser it has gotten. At this point just stepping in it leaves a fairly deep imprint, like walking on the beach. The way we combat this is to try to move around in our units as little as possible. We simply pick a place to stand and do as much as we can from that point.
Because our step collapsed the first time around, DuVal started first thing today rigging together a support that would help to protect the part of the wall still intact and to prevent more soil from falling into Unit 4.
I am still going at Unit 4, and we are making slow but steady progress downwards. At the start of the day we cleaned up our floor and made it level where DuVal needed to work so that we would be out of his way while he put his contraption in place. For the past several days we have been working in level 8, which is the dirt between 90 and 100 cm below datum. We are getting close to that hundred mark, but the going is quite slow. In this level we have hit several large rocks which are going to remain in the floor as they are resting somewhere below our current level. We'll take them out when we reach that point, for now we are interested in what we are finding around them.
Imprints (because it's so soft) and flagged artifacts in the floor of the unit.
Once we started to hit lots of flakes in this level, Dr. White had us switch to just trowels. Gone are the days of shovel scrapping, and here are the days of meticulously marking every artifact we find so that we can piece plot it. Because the dirt is so soft, we have to trowel carefully, so as to not move the flakes from their in situ position when we hit them. This makes for slow going. Before today we had already piece-plotted at least a hundred flakes, and we would continue this process today. By the end of the day we had plotted close to a hundred more. Eventually this will allow future researchers on the site to see exactly where these pieces were sitting. Studies have made it possible to determine where someone was sitting when they made these flakes, based upon where they land. Dr. White has also alluded to the possibility of painstaking hours in the lab trying to put the pieces back together to see what is not there, which would be the tool that was being made. Because of this possibility, we are recording everything in as much detail as possible, and going through this process this way.
As the day continued we were also joined by the property owner and family, other people from the South Carolina Institute of Anthropology and Archaeology (SCIAA), members of the board of the Archaeological Research Trust (ART), and other guests. They came out for a tour of the site, and to see what we had found so far over our short time at the site.
By the end of the day, Nate (my partner in Unit 4) and I had finished piece-plotting all of our flagged artifacts and cleaned up the loose dirt on the floor for a fresh start of flagging and plotting next week.