Week 5 (Wednesday Lab)


During the Wednesday lab at the Waterford Mill site, we continued our archaeological work by continuing mapping, survey, and excavation. The class divided into three groups: a mapping group (3 people), a surveying group (2 groups of 3 people), and an excavation group (6 people).  


Figure 5.1: Trekking along the railroad, mentally preparing for our surveying exploits.



Hank, Clarissa, and Aaron were in charge of mapping for this week. The focus was first to lay out the last points for the grid. In laying out the grid, they noticed that while the points are supposed to be five meters apart, most of them were not exactly five meters apart. This discrepancy was likely caused by both human error in measuring the land and by the uneven landscape.  They then took points at the corners of the excavation trenches and  in the middle of the trenches to figure out the depth of the current excavation. Analyzing this depth will be useful as we later consider how artifacts and their context relate to their position or depth in the soil or ground.


Figure 5.2: Almost levitating.

grid 2

Figure 5.3: A Google Earth depiction of all the points that have been mapped with the GDPS, with Tuesday lab group points in blue and the Wednesday lab points in red.

grid and lines

Figure 5.4: A depiction of mapping points and their correlation to their surroundings: the yellow lines represent the mill walls that were mapped, the white circles represent the excavation trenches, and the pink lines represent the survey units.



We split six people into two groups of three and each surveyed the units which were not  yet surveyed. The units left were H10, H11, H12, H13, and G13. Group 1 surveyed H10, H12, and H13, while Group 2 surveyed H11 and G13. Alex advised us to survey one unit for the first ten minutes and then to start counting the artifacts we found in that survey unit. If we do not set a time limit, our surveying could last years, maybe even a lifetime. Our archeology labs only last two hours. During our survey we took pictures of each artifact and wrote down the number of artifacts we found, which we classified according to material types. We also drew a sketch of each unit to show where each artifact was found.

Survey Group 1: Loren, Miyuki, and Sam

Sam was in charge of note taking and Miyuki and Loren surveyed the unit and counted the artifacts they found. In the inner units, we more likely to find artifacts which seemed related to the site itself.  In outer units, especially H13, we more likely to find artifacts thrown in the unit from the outside relatively recently. We started to think about and investigate the spatial and chronological relationship of the site and artifacts, especially in the articles of trash we found. We found different kinds of artifacts in different locations and units, and we would like to think about how the locations of these artifacts reflect on or reveal something about the different types of people who disposed of these things in these units.  


Figure 5.5: The gang huddling before the big dig.


Figure 5.6: Survey Unit Form of H10


Figure 5.7: Sam and Loren eyeing the earth.


Figure 5.8: Glass lost


Figure 5.9: Glass found


Figure 5.10: Survey Unit Form of H12


Figure 5.11: Survey Unit Form of H13

Survey Group 2: Emily, Lena, and Annie

Emily was in charge of sketching, outlining product features, and Annie and Lena dug in the dirt for findings. We found a maroon palm-sized fragment of pottery, roughly 14 pieces of glass, an old bag of chips, and a tiny clamshell, among other things. Surveying G13 was particularly difficult, as prickly branches covered the ground and we had to be careful not to let the thorns seep into our clothing and prick our skin. Despite this obstacle, we did find one shell fragment, and got some good practice clearing brush. How does contemporary archaeology make it possible to reveal the relationship between the site and the people who used it chronologically and spatially?


Figure 5.12: Lena finding glass stuck between a rock and a hard place.


Figure 5.13: Dirty glass


What does the spatial distribution of the found artifacts tell us about their chronology? Can we infer anything about the people who used this site from the spatial distribution of the artifacts?



For excavations, we again split six people into two groups of three.  The first group was Price, Holland, and MJ, and the second group was Sam, Arya, and Maanya.  The groups discussed with Alex about whether new 1m x 1m excavation trenches should be started, or whether they should continue working in the excavation trenches created by the Tuesday lab group.  The decision they reached was to continue the excavations started on Tuesday and pick up where they left off.


Figure 5.14: Trench 1 Pre-excavation on Wed


Figure 5.15: Post-excavation at the end of the lab

The first group excavated the trench that was next to the trash pit, which was identified as trench 1.  They trowelled the area and used dustpans to remove excess dirt. The trench was on a slight slope and was just above the trash dump, which made excavations a little trickier, so the dustpans were easier to use than a shovel would have been. They found a lot of rusted metal pieces, broken glass, and broken ceramics, which were all bagged, after sifting their excess dirt.


Figure 5.16a: Excavation form for trench 2


Figure 5.16b: Excavation form for trench 2

The second group excavated the trench next to the lower wall, which was identified as trench 2.  They shovel shaved and trowelled the area, removing several roots and digging around embedded rocks. They found mostly metal scraps and nails and bagged them and sifting their excess dirt.


Figure 5.17a: Excavation trench 2


Figure 5:17b Excavation trench 2

This week, our finds included rusted pieces of metal, broken glass, and broken ceramics. These finds tell us that people may have gathered around this area to eat or dispose of eating or food containers. From these finds, we can learn about the material culture of the area. As the mill was an industrial site, it makes sense that we found a collection of rusted metal fragments. It also makes sense that we found so many pieces of glass as trench 1, as it is located next to a trash dump. People often dispose of glass and related materials in trash dumps. We wonder who used this site as a trash dump: men in the mills, nearby farmers, or both? Our further excavations may be able to help us answer this question. Looking into historical records to see if we can find records of this dump would also help us determine who used this dump.


Lab Highlight

About halfway through the lab, as Lena and Annie were clearing brush, Emily turned around toward the railroad track and bid an enthusiastic “Heeey!” to the void. Lena and Annie were confused. It turned out that Emily thought the goats who were bleating were people saying hello to her. As a good citizen of archeology 246, she had to return the greeting.