MCAP Field School, Day 3: The Survey Continues…   Leave a comment

One of the main goals for this field season is to determine where the site is and where it is not. If you have been following along all week you know that we are conducting a bucket auger survey of a sizable portion of the property available to us. That means each team of 2 (or sometimes 3) is digging 4 to 5 of these auger tests a day. That may not seem like very many, but these tests are dug to a minimum of 2 meters (6.56 feet) deep. Each auger bucketful of dirt is about 10-15 cm (4 – 6 inches) in length. Every bucketful of dirt has to be screened for artifacts and the sediments described for color, texture, and structure. It can be slow going.

(Left to right) Pam, Ryan, and Cat discussing the data they are recording.

Several times today students were still finding artifacts at the 2 meter mark – so they were instructed to keep digging. This led to several tests going 3 meters deep (that’s nearly 10 feet!).

Dr. Peres helps out with a deep auger test.

There are a number of important daily jobs that are assigned to a different student each day. Each of the students should have a chance to do each job twice over the course of our 7-week field school. Jobs consist of recording data about artifact finds, maps that we draw, photographs we take, an equipment manager, a bathroom supply and garbage manager, one student shadows Dr. Peres and keeps a running notebook consisting of all site activities. The last job is a daily field blogger. As part of the course requirements and to fulfill our public outreach goal the students are helping to update the blog. Each of them will write about their experiences in the field and some of the interesting things they are learning. Today’s student blogger is Abigail, a rising senior at MTSU. This is her blog:

I am an anthropology major with minors in history and archaeology. This is my first experience with field school and so far, I’m loving it!

Abigail starting an auger test.

Today has been an exciting day, we’ve gotten into higher density deposits of lithics in our auger tests. The more deposits of lithics that we find can tell us, essentially, how close we are to the main areas of occupation. It’s sort of like how you can be traveling down a road and start to notice more and more homes the closer you get to a city.

The types of lithics we have found really interested me. I kind of just assumed that it would all look the same but there is quite a bit of color variation and size differences; even within a single bucket auger test. My group took four, two meter deep, bucket auger tests and we were finding lithics from the first bucketful to about four bucketfuls before two meters. It was really fun being able to identify these pieces of things within the dirt (going into this I was kind of worried about being able to tell chert from dirt).

Not only were the colors different with reds, pinks, and greys, but their textures were different as well. When screening, you’re essentially just de-clumping the soil peds (or “clumps”, in layman’s terms), so one would think that with big work gloves on, you wouldn’t be able to feel the difference. However, a piece of lithics on the screen makes a very distinct sound against the screen (think glass on metal), so once you hear it the first time, it’s engrained in your mind and easy to spot.

I can’t wait to see what we dig up tomorrow and I’m looking forward to getting my trowel dirty.

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