Day 7 at the field school already! That means we're just about half way through the semester, and that we still have a lot of stuff to do!
To start with, the large tarp that Dr. White purchased for us to use to cover the units was filled with a large amount of water, so much in fact that it would have taken us too long to bail out. Dr. White however, was prepared for this and showed us his own water pump that he had designed to remove the water from the pit at a much faster pace, while he talked to us on how we would be moved around starting the day so that more of us could have a more rounded approach to the site. Katie and Ben would continue working in Unit 12, Sam and Caroline in Unit 3, myself and Ella in Unit 6, while Robert and DuVal worked in the Downstairs in Unit 13. Lots of different things occurred over the course of the day in Units 3, 6, 12, and 13!
In Unit 12, Ben and Katie spent the entire day piece-plotting their findings while scraping with trowels, attempting to find flakes and other artifacts in the southern third of the Unit. Throughout the day, they mainly found flakes and some small pebbles and rocks.
In Unit 6, Ella and I worked extensively on preparing the bottom of the previously excavated unit from last semester where they had dug down to 100 centimeters below the datum level. First we cleaned up the floor from the tunnels that the worms and bugs had created since the end of last field season, and then we took a picture of Feature 11 which is exposed at the bottom in the southeast portion of the unit. Shortly after cleaning up the floor, we prepared and began dressing the feature while we also piece-plotted some of the artifacts that we uncovered while we were cleaning up the bottom of the unit. Though we were unable to begin excavating Feature 11, we are prepared to begin excavating the next week.
In Unit 3, Caroline and Sam continued to bring down the base of the unit to about 62 centimeters below the datum level (the bottom of Zone 2). While they were scraping across the bottom of the unit, they found several more artifacts, such as pottery and flakes, and specifically one of interest was that another ax head! It was much more clearly defined than that of the previous one, exciting not only all of us students at the site but also Dr. White especially, who had exposed the ax in the first place.
Unit 13, where Robert and Mr. DuVal were working for the entirety of the day, continued to come closer to that of an exposed feature in the wall. They had to progress slowly due to the unstable setting of the cut into hill, but they were able to get close enough to the feature that another unit maybe be opened up directly over an adjacent feature so that we can gain as much information as possible!
The day ended with that of Robert showing us some recreations of Native American blow guns that he had made to show how darts could possibly been used by prehistoric peoples in the Carolinas.
We were a little nervous to return to the site this Friday, since the weather had been so terrible for the past week. The shiny new tarp had quite a bit of water to pump out, as well as a family of mice that called the site home.
Once we were ready to get to work, I was assigned to piece plot the southern half of Unit 12 with Ben.
As you can see, we were able to fill this bag with a good many finds including about a dozen flakes and a large fabric-impressed sherd. Meanwhile over in Unit 3, where Caroline and Sam were working, a second axe-head was unearthed! The odds of this are incredible, and I can't wait to see what we can learn from them in the lab.
Piece plotting is done by scraping the soil lightly with a trowel, and flagging anything you might find (mostly flakes for us) with a piece of tape so that it can be mapped out on a graph before removal. This kind of documentation is important when it comes to debitage and shatter, because it can help to piece the material back together and work out how lithics were made. Ben and I spent the day doing this layer by layer, and we will continue next week until we reach 80 centimeters below datum.
Before we set out at the end of the day, Robert brought out some blow guns for us to take a look at! He made these himself from local river cane, as well as the darts which he fletched with thistle. I tried to shoot one, and it is a lot harder than it looks. Very happy to have ended the day on a fun note!