Hello, my name is Zackary Whitehead. I am a rising Senior at MTSU’s Anthropology department. My minors are Archaeology and History.
I enrolled in the MTSU Archeological Field School to learn the methods used to conduct excavations and further my knowledge in archaeology. Based on the results of the bucket auger testing program of the first week we were able to open our first excavation units on Tuesday. These were placed so as to locate the boundaries of the shell deposits. Today we worked on Levels 3 and 4 (20-30 cm below surface and 30-40 cm below surface, respectively). At the base of Level 3 in Unit 3 Dr. Peres identified our first feature — Feature 1.
We know we will have to go twice as deep to locate the shell deposits. The units are providing an incredible amount of dirt despite the small increments that we are schnitting in (schnitting is the act of shoveling out layers of dirt to sift through the screens.)
The students at the screening station have recovered many pieces of lithics, fire cracked rock, and pottery. Most of these were in the upper 20 centimeters, or roughly the plowzone.
We also have some awesome devices to play with out here in the field! I have been helping set up a laser level over the main site datum which allows us to take accurate elevation measurements of the surface levels in our units. The laser level can be a bit tricky to set up and it will complain if you tilt it.
Once we set it up, we can use stadia rods which have tick marks on them along with the laser sensors to help us measure the elevation change relative to our datum.
Today during lunch, Aaron Deter-Wolf (Tennessee Division of Archaeology) gave a lecture on the Benton Mortuary Complex.
He talked about the different Benton points which are large points with a variety of ends that range from easily haft-able notches to flat bottoms. The Benton points feature multiple parallel chipping patterns as well. He then passed around several casts of the Benton points for a visual reference before we headed back to work.
All in all it has been a great day and an awesome field school!