by Dr. Tanya M. Peres and Wesley Vanosdall (MTSU Anthropology major)
We’ve come to the end of our second week, and we are all looking forward to the three-day holiday weekend for some much needed rest and relaxation. It is only May 25 and a month away from the summer solstice, but the temperatures soared to 94°F. The relative humidity made it feel hotter. This was our first really hot day of the field season and was a good lesson in proper hydration as to avoid any type of heat sickness. We all encouraged each other to drink water, sit in the natural shade to cool off, and we took a mandatory water break in the shade mid-morning. Today was also our planned Fruit Fiesta Friday at lunch break! Everyone brought a different type of fruit to share — watermelon, pineapple, oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries, and the list goes on. The fruit was just what we needed to feel refreshed for the afternoons tasks. This type of communal sharing gives everyone a sense of community and team spirit, and something to look forward to on these long hot days.
As for the archaeology — we continue to make progress in Units 1 and 3. Today we were able to finish up at approximately 50 cm below surface before we had to close for the weekend. We moved a little slower in these units because today each unit only had one screen dedicated to it. We put in two new units (Units 4 and 5) to the northwest of Units 1 and 3 in the hopes of uncovering the edge of the shell deposits. In the absence of a total station we did it the old-fashioned way — tape, compass, and triangulation. Our units are 2 m x 2m squares. Basically we measure two 2 meter sides and then the hypotenuse (which is 2.828 m for a 2×2).
We triple check all lengths and place our spikes at each corner.
After the spikes are placed and strung with mason’s twine, we record opening elevations. In this case we are recording official elevations with a laser level that reads to a sensor attached to a stadia rod. This gives us the elevation change from our known datum point to the areas we are excavating. Both of these units were prepped, sod removed, and excavated to the base of Level 1 before we had to close up for the weekend.
There is a sense of importance to what we are doing. Each shovel full of dirt, each chert flake picked out of the screen brings us closer to knowing more about the people that lived here so long ago.
We’ll be back on Tuesday with more updates from the field. We hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday weekend, and that no one is forced to deal with the traffic jams we saw on our drive home!