There is nothing better for a crippling hangover than cold winter air and the fresh earthy musk of a young archaeological site.
This was our third trip to the site this semester and by now most of us had figured out what we were supposed to be doing and how to go about doing it. Priority was disposing of the gallons of rainwater that had accumulated on the tarps we had proactively laid down over our block units. After this painstaking and frigid process everyone set about finishing up their group's unit to reduce them to the (mostly) 40 cm below datum arbitrary level that was already established. Now working with the entire excavated plots the units were then dug down to the second level of 50 cm below datum but this time over the entire 2m x 2m unit instead of just one 1m x 1m at a time.
Sifting soon became a coveted job as stones, pot sherds, and even a bit of bone were unearthed. What was once buckets filled mostly with poison ivy roots and loose dirt gave way to full buckets of sandy soil.
I, however, was placed with Jim Legg and another student named Scott. We had the task of first clearing the top of the profile wall from all the plant and tree debris so that we could get a better look at the corner of the unit that Jim would be working on. The unit (Unit 9) he had laid out did not have a SE corner pin but instead was just assumed to be below the wall because of the angle at which he was working. We were working with essentially a small corner by the NW and NE pins along the 1000E line.
After clearing the area of the unit from above Jim set about digging into it with the intention of digging through the entire natural level indicated by discoloration against the face of the wall. As he dug it didn’t take long for Scott and I, perched on the top of the wall collecting loose dirt in buckets and sifting it, to uncover several significantly sized sherds of varying thickness.
Eventually plow scars became evident at the bottom of the natural level about a foot down. The discoloration and clear plow lines indicated a tilling of this area at some point in history. Dr. White then wanted a picture which evidently is where archaeologists exhibit their true prowess with the trowel as Jim explained to me while gingerly scraping away at the base of the level. What he was going for was a flat even surface with little to no sign that a trowel had even been used -- much like doing flooring in a house it had to be neat and even. And while only a small corner was dug from this unit it yielded a surprising number of artifacts to the point that my curiosity has been piqued enough to hope that the next level down holds even more surprises.