Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 2: Team Bakery vs. Team Palisade

Day 2
The Southwest Bastion

Today was the second day of excavation at Fort Tombecbe. As many of you reading this blog know, we are currently excavating the palisade wall and the bakery area in the southwest bastion of the French Fort. Today we split up into two teams, Team Bakery and Team Palisade. Team Palisade opened two brand new excavation units and continued work on the palisade wall. Team Bakery opened up two and a half new excavation units and continued work on a feature previously documented.

During the many hours that I was removing dirt, I realized three very important facts.

     1)Roots are the bane of my existence.
Menacing I know

     2) There is more dirt than you will ever imagine coming from just a few centimeters depth. 
     3) If you need anything identified, lick it.  Or ask Jean.

Despite the first two distressing points, today was a very informative day as to learning how to excavate.  First, if there is grass growing on top of a unit, take the clippers and clip them. Do not pull them up because this could ruin the context beneath. Second, when pulling back the dirt, only take back a little bit at a time. When you have finally removed the hummus and organic material of the top layer, then you take a sample and assign it a color, texture, and note any disturbances in the soil.

Munsell or Munsell it's all the same.
To assign color, as everybody sees colors differently, Dr. Albert Munsell created a color system based on value, hue, and chroma. It’s called the Munsell Color System! Anyway, take a sample and match up the colors and that is the color of your soil. We usually refer to a page called 10YR as that matches up most of the soil located at Fort Tombecbe. 

Texture is separated into four categories: sand, silt, clay, and loam. Sand is gritty (hint: think beach sand). Silt is powdery like flour. Clay is sticky and can form an inch thick ribbon. Loam is a combination of these three categories. The soil we were working with today over at Team Bakery was actually a loamy clay like texture. It came up in clumps and is not very fun to work with.

Once the soil is assigned its traits, then comes the serious digging. Everything is put into buckets that are assigned a provenience, and with provenience comes paper work. Provenience includes the site number (ISu7), the area excavated (Wall Area/Bakery), the Unit number (e.g. 24,25, 17), the zone number (the southwest bastion), digger’s initials, the date,  and the Field Specimen number (mine was 423).

During the digging, Team Palisade (and Brian) found some nice artifacts and features including a whole brick placed within the palisade wall. Great job, guys!

Team Bakery, (Jean Louise, BJ, James/Boone, and me of course) mapped a feature that needed to be redone and we also found two pieces of brick, a bone, tree roots, worms, centipedes, and snails.  We also had our dreams and hopes crushed by nature. We found a square “gaming piece” (chalk) and three pieces of brick (actually mineral inclusions).  Hopefully we will learn more as we go deeper,.

Natalie Mooney (Team Bakery) signing out.

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