MCAP Field School 2012: Day 1   Leave a comment

Today was the official start of the MTSU Middle Cumberland Archaeology Project 2012 Field School. We had 12 students, 2 field assistants, the project geoarchaeologist, and the project director in attendance. We had visits by one of the property groundskeepers and two archaeologists with the Tennessee Division of Archaeology.

John Broster (TDOA) (standing) looks on as Ryan Robinson shows a field school student how to clean out the bucket auger.

One of the goals of the project is to determine the exact boundaries of the archaeological deposits (i.e., the site). There are a number of ways to do this, and for this season we have chosen to use bucket augers placed at 20 meter intervals across portions of the property. This survey is being led by Field Assistant Joey Keasler, with guidance from Dr. Peres and Ryan Robinson. We chose this method for a number of reasons, but especially because the holes are small (which means less destructive to potential site deposits) and with the proper equipment can go really deep (over 5 meters).

Deep augering with Ryan Robinson.

Everyday one of the field school students will write a blog post, so the rest of this post is written by Kate (in the yellow jacket, below).

Ryan Robinson, MCAP Geoarchaeologist, tells the students about sediments and soils

Hi! My name is Kate and I am a junior at Middle Tennessee State University. I am majoring in Anthropology, with  minors in Archaeology and Outdoor Recreation.  I am the lucky one to write the first blog post, so bear with me as I figure this out! We started out the day with Ryan Robinson, a Geoarchaeologist, teaching us about different land forms relating to our site, how they are formed, and the types of deposits we might find. He then showed us how to use a bucket auger and how to tell what type of soil we were bringing up. We learned how to determine color, structure, and composition using the USDA guidebook. I found it very interesting how different soil can be even when it is only centimeters apart. My group continued working on the same bucket auger hole while another group went with Dr. Peres to set up the positions for other samples.

Kyle records the color, texture, and structure of the soil in an auger test.

By lunch time my group had augered 360 cm down and found only one small piece of shale. Even though we have yet to find much, I am having a great time just getting my hands dirty and learning about archaeology.  After lunch we will begin digging other holes, hoping to get a little more sampling in before the end of the day. I am looking forward to learning about archaeology this summer and experiencing it first hand. I have been told that field school is make or break for most people and so far I haven’t been scared off! Hopefully this experience will just increase my interest in archaeology because I really don’t want to change majors!

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