Where in the hell am I?

January 13, 2016

Public archaeology, citizen science, and bad ideas.

Filed under: archaeology, archeology — Tags: , — John @ 8:46 pm

ArchaeoTwitter (or at least certain segments) was buzzing today with news from Florida that the Legislature there was considering issuing archaeology permits to any citizen (First Coast News story about proposed bill). I was busy in the field, so didn’t have time to delve deeper, but my initial response was “Um, very bad idea” along with confusion, as more or less in the US there’s nothing stopping a citizen from digging on their own property (or on someone else’s private property, with their permission). Why would they need, or want a permit?

As it turns out, it’s because people (primarily artifact collectors and dealers) want the right to dig for and collect artifacts from submerged, state-owned waters (rivers and lakes, among others). Not only collect these artifacts, but keep them. In exchange, they pay $100 and are supposed to report the location. The archaeologists get the location, the collector gets to keep the goodie (or sell it), win-win, right?

Not at all. Eminent archaeology blogger (and University of West Florida professor) has an excellent discussion of the proposed legislation and the many problems on her blog at Forbes, co-written by Sarah Miller of the Florida Public Archaeology Network (a great organization that offers many opportunities for people in Florida to be involved in, and “do” archaeology. Among the problems is that, when a similar program existed years ago, the reporting rate was roughly 20%. And while the perception may be that the artifacts belong to nobody, because they’re on public land, it’s the opposite: they belong to “everyone”, the citizens of Florida, held in trust (and protected by) the state and designated agencies.

And then there’s that word that all of us archaeologists use, because it’s that damned important: CONTEXT. The most important data one can get from an artifact is the context in which it was found. This includes the location, sure, but also what kind of soil it was in (and the Florida bill would allow digging with handheld tools), what else was found with it, how deep (if buried), what was above and below…you get the idea. This is all important information, as among other things it helps archaeologists to assess the integrity and significance of the context. A 4,000 year old projectile point might be associated with a 2,000 year old projectile point, which can lead to further questions about the archaeological record, or associated with a 20th century bottle fragment, which means that the deposits have questionable integrity.

Public archaeology is important for many reasons, and archaeologists could, and should, do a better job of making their data, their reports, and (in some cases) the artifacts available AND accessible to the public. We can also continue to look for ways for the public to assist in archaeological work in the field and in the lab.  Organizations like FPAN and many of the local and state avocational organizations have such opportunities (note that the collectors group in Florida refers to themselves as an archaeological society, but don’t seem to understand archaeological ethics). Of course, they don’t allow you to keep the things you find. And that’s because professional archaeologists don’t, either. Nor do we sell them.

Citizen science is a buzzword these days, and rightly so. The public can, and has, made important contributions to science in many disciplines. There is a place for citizen science in archaeology, ideally through avocational associations and stewardship networks (and always with a stewardship approach). I’ve read some great work, and the SAA Crabtree Award is presented annually to an outstanding avocational archaeologist. The 2015 winner of this award was Tom Middlebrook, recognized for his work in East Texas on the Caddo and contacts with the French and Spanish. Also in Texas, the Texas Historic Commission created the Texas Archeological Stewardship Network, for training and supporting avocational archaeologists in activities including the finding, recording, and monitoring of archaeological sites. I imagine that opportunities like this exist in every state, because WE WANT the public to be involved.

But where archaeology as citizen science ends is reckless digging and collecting. An amateur astronomer doesn’t blow up their newly discovered star or planet. But the archaeological record is non-renewable. Once a site has been excavated, it’s been destroyed. We mitigate this damage through detailed documentation of the work, scientific collection and analysis of the artifacts, a report of the work and the findings, and finally curating the artifacts in a repository where they are available to other scientists, and (in some cases) able to be included in exhibits and outreach programs.

The Florida bill is bad policy, a bad precedent, and shows ignorance of what archaeology is. It boils down to people wanting to go onto publicly-owned land and keeping what they find, in many cases to sell for a profit. If the Florida legislature was seriously interested in more opportunities for their constituents to learn about, and do archaeology, I suggest throwing support and funding behind FPAN and other avocational organizations that practive ethical archaeology. They might also consider funding museums, so that more artifacts don’t “get hidden away in some box” but can be on display in educational interpretive exhibits.

 

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January 17, 2014

An Austinite’s Guide to #SAA2014: Lodging and getting around

Filed under: archaeology, archeology — Tags: , , , , — John @ 11:34 am

Hi y’all!

Note: we say y’all in Texas. Very few people, besides Aggies, say “Howdy”. There’s your language lesson for the week 🙂

After doing some research, I thought it might be best to combine lodging and transportation in a single post. This is because most of the lodging options near the convention center (ie walking distance) are pretty expensive, and I was tasked with finding cheaper lodging. Note that, as often happens, most of the downtown hotels have jacked their prices up during the convention weekend. I should also note that the downtown hotels are never really cheap (besides the La Quinta, which SAA took over for student housing), and the trend has been to build upscale/”hip” boutique hotels in the area.

LODGING:

First, if you are a member of Hosteling International, and/or not opposed to staying in a hostel, there is one located walking distance from the convention center, on Lakeshore Boulevard: http://www.hihostels.com/dba/hostel060035.en.htm?himap=Y#book. I’m surprised that this actually has availability that weekend, so maybe jump on that (and I may have to edit this in a week). I have never stayed here but have driven by it a number of times, and it seems to have decent ratings.

A number of people have mentioned finding a room or place from sites like AirBnB or HomeAway. I have never used these services (and it looks like there is a lot of overlap of listings between the 2) and don’t consider my listing of these any type of endorsement. There are some places walking distance, or easy mass transit distance from the convention center listed. I wouldn’t stay further south than William Cannon (and really, not further than Ben White Boulevard/290 West), further west than Lamar Boulevard or MOPAC (Loop 1), further east than Chicon Ave (and only in the immediate downtown area), and further north than St. Johns (which is kinda pushing it). Please check the “Getting around” section below for more details!

UPDATE 1/27/14: THE AUSTIN MOTEL IS NOW COMPLETELY BOOKED FOR THE SAA 2014 WEEKEND. One pretty cool place that I actually HAVE stayed, that is walking distance to the Convention Center is The Austin Motel. This place is something of an Austin icon (and not just for the phallic sign). You’ll have to call to check on availability (and it’s entirely possible it’s already booked solid), but there are some single rooms for under $100 a night, and if you have a roommate there are lots of two bed options. Each room has it’s own theme. It’s also located on funky/hip South Congress, so lots of restaurants and bars and shopping in the area.

Another place I’m familar with is Habitat Suites. This place isn’t walking distance (but on a transit line), and not really in an ideal location (by a failing mall) but it’s a great hotel, and a room for 1 is $99/night during the conference (or one with a sofa bed for $109). One proviso: if you stay out after midnight, you’ll be taking a cab here. On the plus side, they have an amazing free breakfast!!

Some other options (between 90 and 130 bucks per night before taxes) are around the UT Campus. I have no idea how nice those places are, but they’re all the lower scale “name” hotels: Days Inn and Rodeway Inn. Both are walkable, but not the nicest walk (along the highway) and I can’t vouch for the safety of this walk. There are buses that can get you close (again, check the section of Getting Around).

After that, you’re looking at the cluster of hotels on the SW side of the IH-35 and US-290 intersection, or along IH-35 south of the river. There are a range of options, from Motel 6 to Embassy Suites. If these places don’t offer shuttles (and I can’t tell/don’t want to look at every one of them), you will likely be taking a taxi or walking a bit to get to a bus stop.

GETTING AROUND AUSTIN IN GENERAL:

This section will be important in helping to choose lodging.

First, as I stated above: I wouldn’t stay further south than William Cannon (and really, not further than Ben White Boulevard/290 West), further west than Lamar Boulevard or MOPAC (Loop 1), further east than Chicon Ave (and only in the immediate downtown area), and further north than St. Johns (which is kinda pushing it). Anywhere further than that and you will need to rent a car or pay for cabs. And you might have to do some cabbing anyway, because…

Austin’s dirty secret is that we have below standard public transportation (although it’s getting better), particularly when it comes to late night travel. Particularly for a progressive city that is now the 11th largest in the US. For a city that calls itself the Live Music Capitol of the World (still justifiably so) and promotes itself as an entertainment destination, if you stay out late and don’t want to drive/don’t have a car, you may be screwed or have to shell out some money. There are a limited number of late night buses on the weekends. These fill up fast, don’t go everywhere, and you may show up at 2am and not get on one until 4am. We have trains that run to the suburbs, and to a couple of the hip new developments. These also don’t run late.

Here’s the link to the Capital Metro website: http://www.capmetro.org/default.aspx. From here, you can look at maps and schedules, and plan your ride. For funsies, go ahead and enter your possible hotel/room location and the Convention Center, and check on various to and from trips, at different times. As an example, there is no bus that can get you within 3/4 mile of the campus area motels after midnight on the weekend.

So cabs. Here is a link to taxi fare info for Austin: http://www.yellowcabaustin.com/fare_info.aspx. From here, you can go to a fare generator. This should be very helpful in figuring out transportation costs from various lodging options. The trip from the Convention Center to the campus area hotels costs $10.53 (including the $1 surcharge for trips after 9pm, and not counting tip). It’s $16.50 to the hotels around 290.

One possible option is to use Car2Go, which is a Smart Car share program. You have to be a member, and please don’t do this if you are intoxicated! But, for trips within the center city and even to the edges of what can be considered the urban core (alas, my own house is just south) it could be an excellent option for getting around relatively affordably.

GETTING AROUND DOWNTOWN:

Downtown Austin is very walkable, especially for us CRM archaeologists used to walking 5-7 miles a day with heavy packs (sorry, a little good-natured rib at my academic counterparts). I consider anything within about 2 miles to be walking distance.

First, let’s talk safety. I consider Austin a pretty safe city, especially for being around a million people. Downtown is also very safe, although of course crimes do occur. You’re more likely to have to deal with drunk college students than muggers, but it happens. Click here for a link to the official 2012 crime statistics from the city website. The downtown zip code is 78701. The numbers are high, but remember this is a high activity entertainment district. The best advice is that which applies to any city. Be street smart: be aware of your surroundings, try and stay in well lit areas, travel in groups when you can. Once you’re away from the convention center or the immediate area: TAKE OFF YOUR BADGE. Especially late at night. Put it back on at the bar/restaurant if you want to meet people.

If you don’t feel like walking, or want to do something different, there are options. First, downtown is full of pedicabs. You tell the operator where you want to go and they’ll tell you how much it costs. Most have music and a sense of fun. It’s a good option to get someplace in a hurry, or just take a load off your feet, but it’s not super cheap.

A newer option (and something I haven’t tried yet) is the Austin B-Cycle bike share program. You can get an annual membership, OR purchase a daily or weekly pass (probably the best option for the SAA goer). You can ride the bike around and return it to any station (this is the critical part, it must be returned to a station to end the service time); the first 30 minutes is free. For getting around the immediate downtown vicinity, this seems like it might be a great option.

SO…that’s a lot of basic information! Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer, or shoot me a tweet at twitter.com/archaeocore (you can use that handy little widget on the side too)!

November 20, 2013

Blogging Archaeology 2014 Carnival Month 1: WHY?

blogging-archaeology

 

 

 

So, at the 2014 Society for American Archaeology meetings in my lovely home city of Austin, Texas, we’ll be doing another Blogging Archaeology session entitled, appropriately enough, Blogging Archaeology Again. It’s not exactly a follow-up, more of an update with new ideas and almost all new people (I may in fact be the only holdover).

Anyway, as a contribution to the discussion  Doug Rocks-Macqueen (an excellent archaeology blogger [an excellent blogger who can’t make it, read his blog here!) is running a Blogging Archaeology blog carnival. Last time, Colleen hosted one and it was a lot of fun, got some good discussion going before and at the session.

So I’ll play along again. It also helps me because I’m not good about updating, so at least there will be a monthly post by me from now until April 🙂 This is even funnier because of question 3! So here we go!!

Question 1: Why blogging? – Why did you, or if it was a group- the group, start a blog?

I first started blogging because I liked writing and sharing my ideas and opinions. In college, I did radio and in my first run at grad school I wrote for the newspaper (entertainment section). I did a few issues of a zine after (the namesake for my other blog http://alltheragezine.wordpress.com/) and was online. So when I found out about blogs, it was something of a natural thing for me to be interested in and try out. At first, I did a personal blog and enjoyed that, met a lot of new people in Austin and elsewhere that way.

When I back to grad school for archaeology, I would occasionally write about that on my blog (it was on Livejournal and I’m pretty sure I deleted it), and I wrote some about my first field school on there. When I went back in Spring 2004 I decided to start a blog dedicated to my field school and archaeology, partly inspired by what Colleen had started doing. First post was on January 14, 2004, right before I left. It was called Digstories and there’s probably some posts on there that were too honest or not well thought out.

I kept up with it as I moved into CRM, eventually moved the blog to a different host (the whole LJ stigma partly), and changed the name to Where in the Hell Am I, because that was one of the questions my friends would always ask me! It started with just stories, and then I would explain things to my friends who would ask specific questions about aspects of my work. I tried to develop it more as a tool for public outreach, but this somewhat coincided with me starting to be burned out on archaeology, which leads to…

Question 2: Why are you still blogging?  Have the reasons why changed since you first started blogging? Are there new reasons why you blog?

Well, I answered some of that in the paragraphs above. Sometimes I still tell stories here, and I’ve used it on occasion for outreach. Sometimes I use it to vent or discuss issues in archaeology such as #freearchaeology or machismo, which was always an element of my blogging (while trying to keep it professional). Mostly, I’ve switched to microblogging and photoblogging through Twitter and Instagram (which is what my presentation at SAA14 is about). Mostly because it’s easier and has more feedback.

I still feel guilty about not blogging more, and I honestly want to, but…

Question 3: Why have you stopped blogging?

One of the ironic things about blogging that I’ve mentioned in the past is that usually when I have lots to talk about, or good stories to share, I’m too busy from doing things to take the time to talk about them, or just too tired. As I got higher in the field hierarchy, especially with some of the pipeline projects, I had a lot to do after the fieldwork was done. It was not unusual to have a 9-10 hour field day and then 2 hours of post-field work, 6 days a week. Once I was done, I was tired and didn’t want to talk about my day again.

Also as I moved up, things got less interesting, in some ways. I was mostly running the GPS in the field, managing the techs while they did the actual digging. I was talking to clients and landowners (which could be interesting, of course). I was also doing a lot of survey report writing, which is repetitive and boring even to me. I tried to talk about analysis, but was afraid to expose my ignorance to the public and other archs.

I also had some very difficult periods in my life, and got very burned out on the field and archaeology. I always try and be positive on here, even if I don’t always succeed. When I was depressed, or hating my job, I just didn’t want to pretend on here.

Finally, my company got a couple of very large projects, with clients who were very protective and concerned about media and publicity. I started to worry about possibly getting in trouble or straight up fired for things I wrote here. And when I was mad or burned out or thought something was dumb, I DEFINITELY knew not to say so on here. Last year, I found out that even a very innocent post that doesn’t mention much of anything about a client or a project can get noticed and possibly lead to reprisals (although all I had to do was pull it and promise not to blog about or while on that job). That last thing happened right when I was thinking about getting back in to this.

And, now that I’m a public servant, I feel the same need to be extra cautious. That’s why I started a totally non-archaeology blog (which gathers as much dust as this!).

And thus ends my unsurprisingly long first contribution to the Blogging Archaeology Carnival!

June 20, 2013

Doing it for the kids

Filed under: archaeology, archeology — John @ 12:38 pm

It’s been a while since I posted here, and there has been a pretty major change I should mention.

As of April 1st, I have a new job with the Archeology (note: Texas state agencies use this spelling) Survey Team for the State Parks division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It’s been exciting, because I had been looking for a chance to move up, and I was also very interested in working for a state agency. I’ll talk more about my job for my Day of Archaeology 2013 post.

My office is in southeast Austin, near the main TPWD headquarters, which is by McKinney Falls State Park (side note: I lived here for almost 20 years before I finally went to this park. Lame on my part). Being so close to this park has allowed me to participate in some of the activities there (and also, unfortunately, respond to a looting incident).

One of these is the Junior Ranger summer day camp program. Over the course of the week, the kids learn about nature, wildlife, archaeology, and stewardship (or service) while spending a lot of quality time outdoors. Tuesday is Archeology day, which is where I come in. The park has a large rockshelter along a trail (the Smith Rockshelter, which was excavated in 1954-1955), and the ruins of several structures related to Thomas McKinney, the park’s namesake, including his house and a mill. There is also a probable section of the Camino Real.

Junior Rangers at the Smith Shelter

We take the kids (8-12 year olds) on a tour of these sites and talk about archaeology, the people who lived here from the native Texans to McKinney and his slaves, to the early 20th century sharecroppers. It’s not easy, because kids are easily distracted by things like all the Daddy Longlegs on the shelter ceiling and the tadpoles in Onion Creek. But I could tell that some were listening, and we do our best to explain a little bit about context and the importance of stewardship.

When the tour is finished, we do the part that all the kids love: throwing darts with an atlatl.

Junior Rangers atlatl demo

Sometimes, I try to sneak in some archaeological information during these parts too, but mostly its just fun to watch the kids trying to hit a javelina or deer target, espeically when the darts are almost twice as long as some of the younger ones! And as you can see in the photo above, sometimes they decide to find other ways to get the target 🙂

This interpretative tour and demonstration isn’t a regular part of my job, but I have really enjoyed my chances that I’ve gotten to do it, and I hope for much such opportunities in the future. I definitely need the atlatl practice!

 

September 18, 2011

Temporary project blog started

Filed under: archaeology, archeology, Texas — Tags: , , , , , — John @ 8:35 pm

I’m going to be leading a survey next week. We’ll be doing some metal detecting near the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. It’s similar to what I did a couple of months back at the Fannin Battleground State Historic site, only not within the park boundaries (actually, around a mile or so away).

A friend of mine, who teaches fourth grade in Austin, teaches about this battle. Having not grown up in Texas myself, I’ve never taken Texas history, but I assume (knowing my adopted home state) they teach about it often. She mentioned that her students would be interested in my work, and I (of course) said, “Well, I can blog about it!” Then, I realized that this blog isn’t always 100% safe for work, and probably not appropriate for younger readers, particularly in a classroom environment. I’d hate to get my friend in trouble for her students clicking back to the Naked Flag Lady!

So, I started a new blog about the project, for a general audience (no cussing, no attitude). The title is Surveying San Jacinto (click for the link) and it should be temporary. In addition to documenting the actual fieldwork, I’ll try and add information from previous surveys in the area and anything else I can find related to archaeology and the battle. I’ll mention the logistical work, and if I’m involved also the post-field lab and reporting work.

If you’ve stuck with this blog for a while, you know I sometimes make promises and don’t follow through very well. But this time, it’s for the kids!

 

July 29, 2011

Day of Archaeology #dayofarch and Then Dig

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.

July 8, 2011

Cold cases

Filed under: archaeology, archeology — Tags: , , , , — John @ 5:20 pm

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 🙂

June 30, 2011

Turkey is a go!

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.

June 17, 2011

The Maender Archaeology Project microfunding

(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.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/colleenmorgan/the-maeander-project-a-digital-archaeological-land
If you cannot spare a dollar, please do us the favor of spending a moment to forward this message on instead.

Thank you,
The Maeander Project Team

June 2, 2011

Fannin Battle Ground survey, day 7

My crew kicks ass!! Instead of resting on yesterday’s laurels, they went out today and did an even more impressive survey job. They surveyed all of the non-built-up portion of the monument circle at the park (click this link for an idea), scoring 249 hits as well as delineating a series of buried sprinkler lines. Then, they went and excavated 207 of them! Sure, it helped that only 13 artifacts were collected, of which only 4 are definitely battle-related (along with 3 early 20th century coins). All the same, let me remind my readers that the original scope anticipated only 200 hits TOTAL, and didn’t expect to find much of anything battle-related. I bought the crew a couple of six-packs of Lone Star tallboys as a thank you for their hard work.

Today also was great because the park groundskeeper came by and said that the local BBQ joint, McMillan’s BBQ in Fannin,  listed in Texas Monthly’s Top 50 Texas BBQ joints (also here’s Yelp and Yahoo), wanted to give us free lunch! We each got a two-meat plate with brisket and sausage, along with beans and potato salad. This was enough for lunch and dinner for most of us (and I got extras courtesy of my vegetarian friend and co-worker), and it was most welcome. Really good smoke, excellent sausage (juicy and savory), good potato salad. If I’m honest, I prefer my brisket moist and with sauce on the side (although the sauce is very tasty on the sweet range of sauces), but the one fatty piece I had was delicious and the drier pieces still had that good smoke flavor with a touch of spiciness! I feel like an ungrateful jerk because I forgot to swing by this afternoon and thank Mr. McMillan for the excellent lunch, but I will definitely do so tomorrow and pick up a chopped beef sandwich for the ride home on Saturday! Note also, I’m eating the last of the leftovers as I write this 🙂

The main task ahead of us is figuring out a plan of action for Block 4 and the remaining hits in Block 2. There’s roughly 700 of them, and based on patterns (outside of Block 3) 90% of them will be modern. Even at the rate of 9/hour/person that we had today, we don’t have enough time left to dig them all, not to mention the remaining hits in the circle and the hot spot (more important). The current strategy is to focus on those hits away from the fenceline and away from the picnic tables, since those areas have high concentrations that are surely related to modern (or at least non-battle-related) activities.

At the same time, we have found out that this area wasn’t really surveyed before. Furthermore, we’ve already established where the main battle area (aka the Texan Square) likely was, based on the concentration of artifacts recovered in the hot spot, along with the previous markings indicating that this was the main area. Now, learning more about the Mexican lines and the ourskirts of the battle are the challenge. Our survey of these more distant locations may have a much lower recovery, but each battle-related artifact we found here tells us more about the battle then yet another musket ball in the hot spot.

Such is the struggle of archaeology, where you often learn more from less.

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