This week’s update on the progress of excavation group two comes courtesy of ANTH60a student, Faust Núñez. Faust is a Brandeis University undergraduate student majoring in Anthropology and Psychology.
This past week was full of challenges. Upon arriving we found that most of our excavation units had been turned into mini-pools. Back in the woods in Operation 3 our tarps held strong enough so that we were able to lift out most of the water quite easily. Despite this, our soil was still quite dampened causing some issues for when we needed to do our soil analysis for our current layer. On top of this, we needed to be extremely careful of our bulks (walls) collapsing, and our nails falling out, because of the soggy soil. To circumvent this issue we had to dig down about 15 centimeters before the soil was dry enough for us to take an authentic sample for our tests of layer C. The deeper we dug, we started to notice two significant changes. The first, were lots of dark grey/black spots toward the south side of our unit. Along with these spots came loads of small carbonized materials, which implies that there may have been a fire in this area, or even a fire pit nearby. The second difference observed was an increasing prevalence of sandy yellow patches across our entire unit the deeper we dug. Soon it became clear that this different material would soon be a new layer, and sure enough, with a last ditch push we were able to dig down another 10 centimeters to arrive at a completely new layer. It was actually something that we had expected to find, as the grad students, Professor Parno, and a couple of undergrads who had come the previous weekend had dug up units just a little ways west (Operation 6) of our units in the woods (Operation 3). All four of their units had reached this same layer of yellow sand. According to professor Parno, this deposit indicates that we may be near the end of our dig, since this type of a deposit is often the precursor to bedrock. However, to make sure of this, another rule is that upon reaching such a layer, 50 centimeters must be dug without finding a single artifact to definitively prove that there is nothing more to be found.
On that subject, what did we find last Friday? Apart from some burnt metal and all of the carbonized material, our most significant find was a small piece of ceramic, about 2cm x 2cm x 1/2cm. It was a pale white, with some light pink painted onto it, and interestingly, some dots which to some more experienced in identifying artifacts, implied possible transfer printing. Transfer printing was invented in the 1750s, giving a huge range for when our piece of ceramic could have possibly originated. Overall, it was a week with lots of progress, lots of rain, and some good group bonding taking turns holding our umbrellas over the person digging for all three hours we were there.