Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Practicum on Post-holes

Today we had a break from the field after a day off, so that all the students can rest up for the Big Push to get down to the bottom of Oven Site over the next four days. Now that June has rolled around and we have month-long bus passes, we went into the Bermuda Archives to see some of their treasures - early 17th-century  court proceedings, Norwood's 1663 survey, fantastic early 19th-century military sketches of St. George's and early probate inventories and wills. Thanks Karla and Andrew for hosting us! Most of the students are doing independent historical research projects, either reconstructing the lives of individuals buried in St. Peter's churchyard or generations of St. Georgians who lived in some of the old houses. There are also some bold independent studies, like the environmental impact of the many early 17th-century plants that settlers introduced or the progress and legacy of the late-1940s Bermuda Cedar blight or the rise of Bermudian tourism in the 20th century. I'm very much looking forward to their findings!

In the afternoon, we returned to St. George's to the Archaeology Lab, where I gave an overview talk of identifying and dating early modern ceramics, nails, glass, tobacco pipes, and other commonly encountered artifacts - to prep them for the 17th-century Oven Site floor layers, which we should encounter tomorrow!

Yesterday was a day off, but we had an eminently teachable moment while setting up a beach volleyball court at St. Katherine's beach - to plant the posts, we had to dig fairly deep post holes and then pack them firm to keep the posts upright, and in both digging and filling them in students saw exactly how our Oven Site features were formed and how artifacts in the post hole fill would date the moment of construction. But the educational moment quickly passed and we got down to competitive play! (Jim Axtell's influence lives on another generation: as a William and Mary grad student I played on a professor's team - and now "encourage" my students do the same). We only had one casualty - Judd, the tallest guy on the dig, turned his ankle spiking a ball (but what a great spike it was!).
Sports Illustrated here we come!
Before rain ended our digging day early on Sunday, we began to prep our new Cave Site for excavation by clearing a path to it and thinning the trees nearby. We also tested how many archaeologists we can fit into it... 

And while I have unoriginally christened it Cave Site (duh!), there are bids to name it Boca Los Diablos and Spooky Cave #38. What remains to be seen is whether it is a small cave thinly filled or quite a deep one with a lot of infill. We hope to finish up Oven Site by Saturday and break out into smaller teams excavating Cave Site, Cottonhole Bight, and Smallpox Bay by mid-next week - but we'll have to move a lot of dirt between now and then to do it!  Stay tuned.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Mom!

1 comment:

Tom Rankine said...

Of course he made you watch Jurassic Park. Only a matter of time till Breakin' gets on the list...