Friday, June 1, 2012

Horse teeth and hooks and eyes

We finally got my camera situation sorted out (I had charged both my spare batteries at home in Rochester right before leaving - and then left them in their chargers still plugged into the wall when I left) and now have many more pictures of a day in the life of a Bermuda archaeologist:

The daily commute. first this:                      


Then this:


All told, about half an hour to get to the site from St. George's. Today was a bit rough, though, due to the remains of TS Beryl kicking up 15kt winds and a small craft advisory, but we made it. 

Yesterday we continued work on the lateral trench we laid out bisecting the house cellar, taking off the surface layer and revealing a thick layer filled with dressed stone rubble, broken bricks, and other detritus from the house's abandonment and collapse, Today we got to the bottom of it:

Mike rigged up a tarp to allow better unit photographs and give us shade - a key addition, since there's little breeze in the woods where we're digging. ELJKQ (the students) are quickly picking up the basic skills of excavation - filling in context sheets, reading Munsell soil colors, taking elevations...

... recording the positions of rocks, bricks, and artifacts...

...sifting...

...and of course troweling.
Kristina even vanquished the allspice tree roots that had led us to call her unit The Troubled Place:

There were many teachable moments throughout the past two days, from the histories of the various people known to live on Smiths Island in the past 400 years to reading soil transitions between layers to identifying the many types of artifacts that came out of this layer - a horse tooth, two pairs of brass hooks and eyes, several cross-mending sherds of a yellow-ware basin, part of a rat's jaw, hand-wrought, cut and wire nails, and several pieces of large animal bones were especial favorites. Having actually turned up artifacts, we inaugurated our post-dig lab routine back in the Bermuda National Trust's archaeology lab in the basement of Reeve Court. The students preferred washing al fresco:


This evening we ran a discussion of our readings (James Deetz, Charles Orser, Historical documents relating to Smiths Island) in our modest seminar room:
(Mike Read, hard at work studying)
If we keep up the pace we're setting, we should approach the cellar cut as early as Saturday morning, which will provide a clear idea of where the front of the house was and hopefully a posthole associated with that front wall. It is possible, however, that we have the end of a two-bay house, in which case the entire trench would lie within the original house footprint. Dirt always has a way of surprising you...

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