Week 4 (Wednesday Lab)


During class time on Tuesday, we continued our discussion of site surveying and the broader question of social organization in archaeology. Stressing the importance of documentation in the field, as well as responsible post-fieldwork information management (which would become crucial post-lab session on Wednesday) we talked through some of the ethics of the field and the irreplaceability inherent in the work. Next, we discussed the assignment “campus complexity” in small groups. Through the course of these conversations, issues of site definition variation, settlement pattern analysis, site hierarchy, tell sites, and vertical vs. horizontal approaches to archaeological analysis. We eventually moved on to consider recording methods for survey, some of which we would use in our lab section the following day. A few of the strategies we would use in lab include mapping with a tape/compass, differential GPS mapping,  feature recording, site clearance, photography, transection of site into grid squares, and fieldwalking.

We were also visited by Dr. Andrew Wilson, and archaeologist and an Academic Technologist at Carleton. He gave a talk on his own experience with surface investigations in various locations, including Britain, Dhiban, and Buseirah.  In the Madaba plains of Jordan, he used GIS, multi-scale historical maps, and over 50,000 digitally recorded artifact points to try and pinpoint artifact clusters. Mapping artifact clusters seems like it would be a useful exercise with our own data at Waterford. Finally, he talked in length about his use of magnetometry and DGPS, as well as ground penetrating radar. He hilariously noted how not everyone can use magnetometry equipment, because “some people just have magnetic fields about them.”

Lab Prep

On Wednesday, our lab group put all that we had learned on Tuesday to the test as we headed out to the site.

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Figure 1: The Site

Expanding on the already substantial work done by the previous days lab group, we worked on clearing, laying, and documenting our site grid into 5 m² sections, marked by pink tape. We split into four main groups: site clearance, feature mapping, grid laying and documentation/differential GPS mapping.

Site Clearance Group

The site clearance group got to work immediately clearing brush and meddlesome vines from the grid area, primarily the southern and western parts of the site. The physical labor necessary for this task was considerable, but satisfying. Thorny vines, however, proved especially trying.

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Figure 2: A Particularly Thorny Vine

Because of the extensive labor already completed by the Tuesday group, the site clearance group was able to start collection in the G10 grid. In just ten minutes, Clara and Loren found 25+ BB gun bullets, a metal can, a dated ceramic brick, a lump of charcoal, and a couple shards of glass in the G10 grid alone. This seems a promising omen for future finds.

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Figure 3: Site Clearance in Action

Grid-Laying Group

The grid laying group added eight new grid sections to the site in total. Maanya and Owen measured distances with measuring tape, Arya was in charge of the compass and recorded bearings, and Price put down the stakes and added the flagging tape.
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Figure 4: Waterford Mill Schematic Sketch

A few in this group brought up the possibility of expanding the grid for further collection in the coming weeks.

Differential GPS Mapping Group

Another mapping group used a differential GPS to plot different points around the sunken part of the site, avoiding trees. They began by labeling their points with the following notation: WM(waterford mill) and the number point (01). However, they soon realized that this would not be the most effective manner of mapping, and so revised their notation to make it more specific: for example, WMSB01, WMSB02, etc for the south building. By the end of the lab period, they had mapped out points on the south building, its adjacent west building, and the corners of some of the survey units. However, due to various constraints, they noted that their numbers did not always appear as expected, and that because they could only access some of the points, the corners could ultimately end up being numbered something like 01, 02, 03, 22. While this was not ideal, they came to the conclusion that it was a better solution than trying to guess what numbers to omit.

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Figure 5: GPS Mapping in Action      

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Figure 6:  LIDAR Waterford Mill Topography

Feature Mapping Group

The group responsible for feature mapping also split into two. Annie and Emily mapped and surveyed the larger compound on the SW side of the site, while Miyuki and Lena covered the other side of the mill wall.

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Figure 7: Waterford All-Features Map


Feature Mapping/Collection Team 1: Emily and Annie

After a period of feature mapping, Emily and Annie began collecting artifacts from grids F10 and F11. Despite reporting 30% visibility they were able to find 10 metal artifacts in the F10 grid, as well as a tobacco wrapper, charcoal, and a clam shell.

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Figure 8: The F10 Grid Feature Form w/Map of Feature Placement in Field

Their finds were even more numerous in the F11 grid:

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Figure 9: The F11 Grid Feature Form w/Map of Feature Placement in Field


Feature Mapping Team 2: Lena and Miyuki

Lena and Miyuki were primarily concerned with features in their part of the grid, filling out eight feature forms and taking an abundance of pictures. Among some of the features they noted were:


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Figures 10-13:  A Road/Path (W2-02)

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Figures 14-15 : An architectural fragment, or the remnants of a metal fence (W2-01)

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Figures 16-17: A stone foundational wall most intact on the side parallel to the road (W2-04)
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Figure 18: Concrete block with square holes where posts or “concrete toutings” may have been (W2-05)
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Figure 19: A rusted pipe jutting out from the side of the mill wall likely made of iron (W2-03)

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Figure 20: Concrete blocks (W2-06)

Also found were two artifact scatters, indicating high density artifact areas (W2-07, 08) (Not Pictured).


To conclude, we learned many new techniques during our week four lab section, putting into practice a lot of what we had read about outside of class and discussed in class. While there were plenty of challenges, the experience as a whole was rewarding and we came away with solid, useable data. With practice, we hope to improve coordination and precision in data collection. We look forward to getting back out into the field next week, this time with more suitable protection against ticks and thorns!