This week’s update on the progress of excavation group two comes courtesy of ANTH60a student, Megan Carey. Megan is a Brandeis University undergraduate student majoring in Anthropology and Health: Science, Society, and Policy.
This week we began a process that is both sad and satisfying, closing a unit. Last week, like group 5, we came across a layer of very fine sand. We had not found any artifacts since the layer before the last layer of yellow sand. So our goal became digging far enough down to confirm that we had indeed discovered “sterile” soil and would not be missing anything by closing the unit. To do so we dug 50 centimeters below the point where we had found our last artifact. This was very easy due to the soft sand. In fact, Faust was able to dig the final 20 centimeters in about 5 minutes. In the end, our unit was just under 90 centimeters deep.
Once we had finished digging, we cleaned up the balks (walls) and swept up the inside of the unit. This felt a bit futile since it was mostly sand at this point. We then proceeded to take pictures of the unit and the elevations. Taking the elevations was a very delicate process due to the fact that the line level did not want to stay on the string and was very likely to end up at the bottom of the very deep hole if we so much as bumped it. Luckily, we actually managed to not drop it! We were all rather excited since I don’t think there was ever a time that it didn’t fall off at least once. Once that was done, Mozelle drew a profile sketch of the layers. This is a very precise process that uses multiple measurements for each layer to get an accurate picture.
By the time we had finished, it was time for us to pack up for the day. We will have to back fill the unit next week, but leaving still felt somewhat sad. The fact that we ended up literally walking into the sunset with our gear on our backs made the moment all the more dramatic.