At the site on Friday, January 24, 2020, we were working to sift through the slump from a wall that had collapsed before we had returned to the site to begin work this season. We did not find many artifacts in the slump. There were several bits of fire cracked rock (FCR). Once we had gotten through the slump, we worked to re-expose a portion of the wall, which had previously been excavated. Unfortunately, during the time the site had not been being excavated, the structures that had been put in place to preserve the site had become rotten. The dirt behind the protective structure had become unstable.
Therefore, as we removed the dirt which was anchoring the protective structure, the structure and the wall collapsed. This created more slump. This was incredibly unfortunate, as it took the artifacts within this area out of context. This means that, while we can say that a certain technology or item was used in this area, we cannot say when. Given the possibility in this space, it could have been used at any point over the past 7000 or more years. Because the wall collapsed, we lost the stratigraphy. While stratigraphy is not necessarily an exact dating process, it is a reliable relative dating process, which can tell us in relation to other things when things were used or happened.
As archaeologists, context is incredibly important. Not only is context what allows us to date artifacts and identify the cultures they belonged to, context is what separates archaeologists from simple looters (along with the interest in a monetary reward for a find). While looters grab at anything shiny and destroy any context in doing so, archaeologists work tirelessly to document and maintain contexts, even though archaeology is an inherently destructive process. Once an artifact is taken out of the ground, it cannot be put back in the ground and have the validity or accuracy of a pristine find. This is why it was important that I also spent time on Friday doing an exercise on mapping and setting up grids, so that I could learn how to preserve context as an archaeologist.
We left a bit early, but thanks to modern technology and in-hand radar devices like cell phones, we were able to prepare for our departure before any real weather event happened.