Before catching the bus to campus this morning, I made sure to load up a small Tupperware with coffee grounds. Our site has a communal coffee service managed by Kate, and I decided this week I’d contribute to the pot. Our team is becoming progressively more chummy, and now the companionship is another thing to look forward to each week.
Once we arrived, Kate and I headed back to ye olde Unit 6 to finish cleaning up the bottom of Level 6. Last week we noticed a concentration of charcoal in the floor of Level 6. Upon scraping and cleaning to floor, Dr. White decided to mark, photograph, and separately excavate the charcoal pit as a feature. It was designated as Feature 6 in Level 6 of Unit 6.
We placed two nails along an east/west line and ran a string between them to bisect Feature 6 into north and south halves. Dr. White used one of the most technologically complex archaeological tools (a spoon) to scoop out the south half of the pit, preserving a clean wall along the east/west line. With the south half scooped and screened, Kate and I drew a profile of the feature, delineating two zones of high and low concentrations of charcoal.
With the profile drawn, the north half of the feature was scooped out and double bagged in trash bags to save all the dirt for a flotation sample. A float sample allows the entire dirt sample to be submerged in water, allowing any organic material to float to the top. The rest of the pit was scooped and screened so as to not contaminate the rest of Level 7.
Dr. White thinks the pit could be a smudge pit: a small hole filled with charcoal to create smoke and ward off mosquitoes. While Feature 6 may not have been as dramatic and interesting as the nickname we gave it (which Dr. White redacted from this blog post), it's still incredibly cool to witness and learn about these ancient locations. As we began digging Level 7, it was time to pack up and I was left to wonder what other ancient objects we would discover next week.