Jack Coyne

Week 6

Our work in the arboretum continued this week as our survey and excavation of the Pine Hill Village site really started to take shape. We started the day off in the Arboretum Office where we discussed the idea of actually doing shovel testing, in which small excavation sites could be started using a few shovels at various points on the grid to test the area and see if it’s worth opening a trench or not. After that, we assigned roles for the day and made our way out to the field. I was assigned survey work, finishing our ground-level survey of the already established grid, as well as expanding our survey into row-12, which the grid planning team had just mapped out.

I was given the opportunity to work with Zayn to continue flagging the string marking row 13, as well as survey the area around R13, U12,T12, and Q12. This mostly consisted of the area around the top of the slope toward Goodhue, which, as Zayn pointed out, is rather empty of material probably because it’s more likely to have gathered toward the bottom of the hill (at approximately row 9). This is most likely the case, especially since the road marking the edge of the slope reaches a low-point near T12, meaning water flow will be heaviest in that region during rain. We did get some nice finds, however, stumbling upon everything from modern plastic wrappers to an old golf ball lodged in the mud. After finishing surveying, the other members of the survey team began to open small excavation sites with some shovels, testing the area, while Zayn and I went back to the Arboretum Office and organized the artifacts left there by alphabetizing them and mapping them out on the counter based on their origin within the grid. We then went back out, collected the new finds, and called it a day! Next week I look forward to continued excavation, possible new survey, and the possibility of analysis of new finds.

Week 5

This week, our work in the arboretum continued as planned. The class, after a brief discussion in the arb office regarding the way in which we wanted to move forward, broke up into three teams, each further subdivided based on where they’d work, with whom, and on what. Some students went to continue mapping with Alex, some began excavating, and others continued survey work. I volunteered as a member of the survey team, specifically the group within that team that would continue to expand the grid system we put in place last week. We gathered our equipment from the office— compasses, measuring tapes (30 and 50m), flagging materials, string, and a small knife— and set off for the survey area.

Once there, we began by extending the lines established last week by measuring another 50m northwest, then marking off every 10 meters from there after tying a string from our start point to our endpoint. From there, we continued this on every row heading southwest from the starting point. We ran into some issues in that the distance measurements from some of our gridlines last week were not entirely correct, and as such we had to correct our problem by ensuring that all endpoints (the most Northwest point at which we stopped) were exactly 10 m from one another. This allowed us to correct, to some extent, the prior errors. Some other small issues we ran into were the prevalence of trees directly in our path. Two large pine trees intersected almost exactly with our gridlines, specifically the points on which we flagged (one of which I named Regine, the other Derrick). While this was a technical problem, we were able to easily go around them, or simply mark slightly off the grid, but not too much as to disrupt survey. We really got a lot done and I’m looking forward to continuing our work!

Week 4

This week during our lab period, the class went out to the area behind Goodhue Hall in the arboretum, just west of the Hill of Three Oaks, and began our survey work on what was once Pine Hill Village. This work required us to apply certain skills we’d been exposed to through our readings, class discussions, and, partially, by our guest lecturer, Jerry Sabloff of the University of Pennsylvania. We began by establishing a point on the map Alex had prepared for us, near the grid square 16Y. This gave us a starting point from which we could branch out and physically mark small areas for survey. This permits us to create a systematic approach for surveying the land, allowing students to cover small areas with a degree of depth. Most importantly, through our lab work, we were able to establish the groundwork upon which further survey/excavation might be expanded.

This required a degree of physical labor. First, we planted a stake at the most eastern corner of the survey-unit 16Y. From there, we measured 50 m northwest through relatively open fields, marking a string every 10m with bright pink nylon to signal the boundaries of small, survivable units. We did the same heading southwest; however, this are was covered with thick vegetation, most of it invasive and a good lot of it thorny. We were able to clear much of the brush, continuously marking off each 10 m interval with pink nylon. Once we ran out of stakes to plant into the ground, we began using sticks. This shows the extent to which archaeologists have to be resourceful, using the most of the resources they have when necessary. Zayn Saifullah and I spent a good deal of time ensuring that our measurements were exact and that we were marking off areas on the map as accurately as possible. After heading southwest, we then began to turn northwest at the 40m marker southwest, creating a perpendicular line to help mark off areas of interest. In total, we were able to mark, as a group, about 20 units for survey/excavation. While we did this, our fellow students surveyed the units in columns 16U-Y. They were able to find everything from asphalt to alcohol, objects of interest for further survey. I’m definitely excited to keep surveying the area and expanding our work!