During lab this week, we continued with and completed the tasks started by the Tuesday group, all in preparation for doing the excavation itself. We were split into about four groups, and my group (Owen, Arya, and Maanya) were in charge of making a gridded map of the site itself. We first all had to learn how to use a compass, which, thanks to the smartphone, is something I never have learned before. We then had to stake out 5 by 5 meter squares and flag each corner, as well as documenting everything on a paper grid. We ended up with nine grids, covering almost all of the site up to the train tracks. It was very exciting to get started on the excavation itself, and useful to see how archeologists keep everything organized and well documented during the project.
This week, we continued with the survey and documentations, and also finally began to excavate. The tuesday group had marked and cleared out two trenches, and those of us in the excavation groups began to actually dig. I was in a group of three focusing on the trash pit. Since we were near the surface, we used trowels to scrape away dirt and put it in a bucket. Alex showed us how to best excavate in a uniform way, keeping like with like and making defined edges. We also learned about contexts and were instructed to dig around big objects in case they were connected to a larger structure like a wall. Digging in the trash pit trench was great, because there were lots of artifacts such as ceramics and metal wire and nails.
During this week’s lab, we continued on the work from Week 5. I was again in a group excavating the trash pit. It was exciting to see all the progress that had been made by the tuesday lab, and many artifacts that I had started to uncover last week had become fully exposed. After taking pictures of the trench as we found it, we again began to dig, using mostly trowels but also shovels, since we were getting deeper. Our findings were mainly just a continuation of the first day of excavations, with the most common artifacts being metal scraps and charcoal. Ceramics, while common on the surface and shallower contexts, were much more scarce as we got deeper. During this lab I also used the sifter to go through the dirt and pick out artifacts that were in the dirt we collected. After we had gathered all of the artifacts, we put them in bags and labeled them. Finally, since my project is on artifacts from the trenches, Sam and I collected some surface artifacts surrounding the trash pit trench.
This was our final excavation day at the Waterford Mill Site. I was in an excavation group again, and this time I got to work on Trench 2, which I had never done before. We again took pictures of the trench before we started, and then continued to dig with the trowels. There were fewer artifacts to be found in this trench, which makes sense since Trench 1 is a trash pit. The most common artifacts were metal scraps. I found a large metal stake, which was pretty cool. At the end of the lab, we had to close down the dig site. This involved sweeping over the trenches and removing all of the stakes and flagging tape. Because we never reached a new context in the soil, we did not have to back-fill the trench. We bagged all of our artifacts and labeled them with the necessary information.
Today we continued the work that the Tuesday lab did, sorting and cataloguing all of our finds. I was partnered with Sam, and we focused mainly on the gridded survey artifacts. For each find, we recorded the site unit, lot number, quantity, material, and a brief description. We catalogued a lot of unidentifiable metal scraps. We also came across a glass bottle with a companies name on it. After some research online, we discovered that the company was a mouthwash manufacturer that was around from 1902-1930. This was pretty exciting, and bodes well for our project, since we have to analyze the different artifacts from the trenches.