While I have been remiss at updating my own blog lately, I have contributed to two archaeology group blogs this month.
One is for The Day of Archaeology. Today (July 29, 2011), over 400 archaeologists from around the world and many disciplines are blogging and tweeting about their day. My contribution, about taking a mental health day, is here. I recommend reading the entries on this blog for a great overview of how archaeologists spend their days.
Earlier this month, I wrote a post about my snake guards for the Then Dig group blog. This month’s theme was “tools”, and I detailed why I think snake guards are a very valuable tool. You can read it here.
I also wrote a few tweets on Wednesday when I actually spent (most) of a day in the field doing a survey.
Have a nice weekend and I’ll try and make things pick up here soon! Unfortunately, the Turkey trip fell through for this year, so I won’t have that to keep me interested/interesting.
Haven’t been blogging much, as I’ve been working in the office on reports since returning from the metal detector survey over a month ago. Was also putting a lot of spare time into getting things organized for the Turkey trip.
In terms of the office work, it’s been mostly working on the final draft reports for older excavations. Right now, I’m working on updating the burned rock feature information for our dig at the Siren site, which happened in the second half of 2005 and early 2006. We did an draft interim report in 2008, which I don’t think I worked on. Since then, we’ve acquired almost 50 additional radiocarbon dates as well as results from macrobotanical, pollen, and phytolith analysis on feature materials, and starch analysis on groundstone artifacts. I’m updating the tabular data for each of the features, then I’ll have to add to the text. Finally, I have to write a general overview of the different types of features at the site. This is to see if there are changes over time in the types and sizes of features used, as well as any other patterns that might emerge.
It’s not uninteresting, but the challenge is trying to gather the disparate analyses, forms, tables, and raw data that have accumulated over 6 years. The project director for the excavation, while still involved in a limited capacity, moved on to an academic job several years ago. Many of the other excavators and crew chiefs, and some of the earlier authors and analysts, have also moved on. So we have cold data and loss of knowledge sources, one of the big problems in archaeology. The kicker is that this wasn’t really my company’s fault, but a result of budget cutbacks that led to the client putting this on the shelf for several years. Looking back, I was working on the lithic analysis almost three years ago.
So that’s what I’ve been up to. Told ya you weren’t missing much
Well, almost. It would sure help if you could donate a few dollars to sponsor our project on Kickstarter! There may be matching funds involved, so it’s like during an NPR pledge drive when you wait until one of the businesses offers a dollar-for-dollar match! Also like NPR, you get nice thank you gifts.
I bought my ticket a few days ago, and I’ve been anxious and excited since. I’ve only traveled overseas once, and that was a little over 20 years ago (as in, I was actually semi-officially in East Germany as the final reunification was still a few days away). My non-US work was limited to 5 months in Belize, and even that was over seven years ago!
So this is my first major “adventure” in a long time, and my first chance to work in the Old World. Most of my last seven years involves seasonally mobile bands/tribes of hunter-gatherers/collector-foragers. Nothing I’ll find in my regular work would be more than roughly 15,000 years old. Honestly, the anticipation has made writing about an early twentieth century glass scatter even less thrilling than usual!
So yeah, anxious and excited. New people, new places, new cultures, new techniques and ideas. Plus, Colleen assures me that I’ll still be able to recognize a potsherd, or a flake, or a coin. Question is, will I be too busy looking at the ground to notice the ancient stone wall beside me?
We’ll find out in August! I’ll be in Turkey from August 2-17, and surveying for roughly 10 of those days. There will be blogging, and photos, both here and elsewhere for sure.
(sorry about the lack of updates lately. took a week off from work and then spent a week writing various things.)
I am one of the peripheral members of this project. Please follow the link, watch the video featuring my best friend and colleague Colleen, and consider chipping in a few bucks. If you’re familiar with the old concept of “patrons” who support the arts and sciences and always thought, “Wow, I wish I had one of those”, well now is your chance to BE one of those, for as little as $5. Every little bit helps, and you will be involved in shaping the future of archaeology. If you like reading archaeology blogs, this project is hoping to take that concept to new levels in terms of digital interaction and interplay. And, if the project is able to go forward, this blog might just be a part of it!
“The Maeander Project needs your help! We received a permit to survey in SW Turkey in the Dinar Basin, but funding is tight for new archaeological projects, especially in our current economic climate.
If you can spare a dollar or two to support continuing archaeological research, we would deeply appreciate your help in getting this project off the ground.
If you cannot spare a dollar, please do us the favor of spending a moment to forward this message on instead.
The Maeander Project Team
Block 5 is finished. A total of 161 hits were looked at, of which 16 had items collected. Two were actual musket balls, one was a possible button, and the remaining 13 are iron pieces that may be battle-related. So, 90% was modern trash or false readings.
Finishing that took almost all day, which was great because we were afraid it would take a lot longer (cue Booker T and the MGs or The Clash “Time is Tight”).
Still working on hits in the “hot spot”, although I think we’re down to 15 or so left. The dirt is ridiculously hard and dry right now, so that trying to dig 8-12 inches to find a musket ball is a serious endeavor! There are many sore arms and wrists right now, and I bruised my palm (near my index finger). At this point, the results are redundant, but this area is also slated for unknown renovation impacts.
Began the survey inside the memorial circle, as the outer half is not built up. This was done by another volunteer, who is actually one of the high-ups (if not the top guy) for cultural resources at Texas Parks and Wildlife, and an experienced detectorist. Another nice guy, who taught us a few tricks. We recovered another musket ball from one of his hits as well.
At this point, we’re still leaving the eastern block (#4) alone, because of the perception that it’s almost all modern trash, based on the concentrations near fences and picnic benches. The only concern there is that, apparently, that area wasn’t really surveyed back in 2001.
Days are long and hot, and I’m spending a lot of time after the field getting supplies (batteries, sunscreen, electrolyte drinks) and double checking paperwork. I’m sorry that my blog posts are not more thorough, with photos and links, but I’m just a little too busy and tired right now. Also, since I’m field director this week, I don’t really have time to live blog, although I have tweeted a couple of times (https://twitter.com/#!/archaeocore).
Just a quick update today since I’m really tired and going to get some food soon. Even on a travel day, the heat just sucks all the energy out of me.
We’re back for another week, and feeling a time crunch. The back part of the park, which has several picnic tables and may have once been a camping area, is now finished with the metal detector survey. Only 700 hits to investigate! That’s a solid two days of work for the entire crew at a good pace, and it’s almost all likely modern trash.
We also detected the northwest corner of the park, near the “hot spot.” Much lower density of hits there, only 215 across a 60 x 100 m area. Might be able to get that in a day. Also, hoping to find some more battle related items there.
Today we had a volunteer “detectorist” come out to help us. He is a Texas Revolution buff, and really knew a ton about the artifacts. He also had a very fancy detector and a lot of experience on Revolution battlefields, all legitimate volunteer work through archaeological societies and state agencies. He had a lot of respect for archaeology and context, and made it a point to try and uncover things in situ. He resurveyed the “hot spot” and found at least a couple dozen more things that we missed, including a very cool copper or brass button from a uniform.
Tomorrow, we’ll be excavating the hits in Block 5, the other high probability area. I think we’ll have another volunteer helping out.
Sorry I couldn’t be more descriptive about the day!
Lunchtime update: Finished the “hot spot” for now, decent recovery but definitely not as prolific as Wednesday. Right now, we’re sitting on the porch of one of the park buildings. It’s a really great spot for a picnic, if you’re ever in the Fannin area!
The PA is on the phone with the guy who rented the metal detectors to us. We’re feeling less confident about our “hits” today, and having problems replicating them. Hope it gets worked out, although we’re shifting back to the first area. At least there’s a little shade there!
10:10 am CDT:
Added the WordPress app to my iPhone, gonna try updating in the field today!
It rained last night, but our paint held. One might hope the ground would soften, but if anything it’s made the substrate even harder! And the weather is still hot and humid.
Thus far, the amazing results from yesterday have slackened. Still an occasional musket ball, and at least one more iron pot scrap, but many more modern and false hits. As for myself, I’ve found one small lead slug, 2 bolts (collected just in case, but probably 20th century), and roughly a dozen modern or false hits.
Right now we’re taking a break in the shade, having gone at it for 2.5 hours.
We’re definitely not finishing this week!