MCAP Field School, Day 8: Site Visitors   Leave a comment

by Cat Zamniak and Dr. Peres

This morning we arrived on site with much anticipation for the day. We are continuing the excavation of our first two units, and we were to be visited by archaeologists for the Division of Archaeology (DoA). Visiting us today were Mike Moore (State Archaeologist, DoA), John Broster (Prehistoric Archaeologist, DoA), Aaron Deter-Wolf (Prehistoric Archaeologist, DoA), and Jesse Tune (PhD student, Texas A &M University). We showed them around the site, and described what we know so far about the extent of the deposits. A few small pieces of ceramic sherds were recovered during excavation of Level 2 in Unit 3, which was a nice coincidence since that is Mike Moore’s specialty.

Left to right: Mike Moore (Tennessee State Archaeologist), Jesse Tune (PhD student, Texas A & M University and MTSU Alumnus), John Broster (Prehistoric Archaeologist, Tennessee Division of Archaeology) visited the MCAP Field School today.

We were also visited today by the director of the University School of Nashville and a board member/parent. They were interested in what we were finding and we were happy to be able to share our early results of our testing program. Today also happens to be USN’s Field Day, and some of the parents of USN students were interested in our work. This gave our students a chance to work on their public outreach skills.

Today we set up a total of 4 screens at our screening station. We have 2-3 students per screen, and 2 screens per unit.

The screening station.

Field Assistant Kelly Ledford (left) looks on as JoBeth Simon and Kate McKinney work in Unit 1.

Each screen is double layered with a 1/4″ screen that is made to fit on top of a 1/8″ screen. As the other students in the excavation pit schnitt (gently shoveling dirt into buckets) we will take the buckets and individually screen them. First we pour them over the 1/4” screen and a team of 2-4 students will then carefully sift through the dirt until it has completely fallen through to the smaller 1/8” screen. Any artifacts we recover will then be retrieved for further study. Once all the dirt is sifted from on top of the 1/4″ screen we then will remove it and re-sift the soil which fell through the 1/4″ screen. This is done to ensure that we don’t miss smaller artifacts which could easily fall through the first screen.

While screening may sound like a simple task there is an amount of skill to it. Normally using the 1/4” screen is fairly quick (unless your soil has a lot of clay) but once you get down to the much smaller 1/8″ screen it becomes more slow-paced. While working with different students on different screens we have discovered that we all have our own “techniques” for moving through it. Regardless of how you prefer to screen you the result is normally the same. Today while screening we found more chert flakes, ceramic sherds, small pieces of bone, and what appeared to be fire cracked rocks.

I am proud to say I am one of those lucky screeners. My name is Cat Zamniak and I’m an Anthropology student at MTSU. I’m double majoring in Anthropology and German with a minor in Business Administration.

MTSU Student, Cat Zamniak, blogging in the field.

This is my first experience in the field. I wanted to be part of the field school because Archaeology is truly not something you can learn in the classroom. For example, while you can try to describe how frustrating or valuable (depending on the situation) it can be to work with a 1/8″ screen instead of a 1/4″ screen you won’t be able to understand it unless you do it yourself. Also, while the main objective of Archaeology is the archaeological record (which pertains to human activity in any time period) it also provides us with valuable information concerning past flooding periods and weather patterns.

There is an increasing number of butterflies flitting about. This one took a fondness to Dr. Peres’s ring.

Dr. Peres’s lepidopteran friend.

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