Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day 17, Week 3

It's week three of our four week adventure. We only have a few more days of digging left before we pack up and go home, which means there are certain things we need to do before we finish the 2012 field school and say goodbye to Fort Tombecbe. If we've learned anything these past few weeks in archaeology, it's about the importance of good record-keeping. After all, archaeology is destruction; once the artifacts are dug up and the features are examined, they can't be put back the way they were found. So good record-keeping is important if future work on the site is to be possible.

Kayla, Jordan, Alex and I trying to figure out the Total Station
Today we used an important tool involved with good record-keeping called a Total Station. A Total Station is a surveying instrument that allows archaeologists to establish an accurate grid across their site, measure elevations of ground surfaces and excavation levels, and make topographic maps of the site. The machine is large, complex, and expensive and despite working with it for an hour I can honestly say I'm not entirely sure how to it works or how to use it, unlike Dr. Dumas (but then again I'm only a student). It is a tripod with a high-tech laser on top that connects to a small handheld electronic device that records data and can later be connected to a computer to transfer that data. We were set with the task of leveling the machine (which is a lot harder than it looks considering how accurate you have to be). Then two people had to walk out with a stadia rod with a prism on top that the laser could point to. This allowed the total station to create a 360 degree circle in space with which to orient itself.

The blade from a case knife found in Lauren's station.
In other news, there was a toss up between the two coolest finds of the day. It was either the knife blade found in Lauren's unit (seen above), or the King snake found slithering around the water screening station (seen below). Which do you think is cooler?

The curious king snake who wanted to check out what we were doing

-Andrea Zrake

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