Week Seven Summary

This week saw the class back at the WLC site. After a week of spring rains, the excavation pits were damp but not muddy, due in large part to the tarps placed last week to protect them. Before starting excavation on the newly exposed contexts, one student went to each pit and photographed the exposed layers. This serves as a documentary record of progress made within the inherently destructive pits. The photographer recorded the context currently exposed in the photograph, the direction of true north, and the scale of the pit.

Once the photographs were completed, the excavation crews got to work. As the class worked within the trenches, they uncovered ‘contexts’ or layers of soil that seem to fit into a similar category or spacial area. Last week the class was mainly working on context 1 in all three trenches, but this week they uncovered new layers. To dig deeper into the new contexts, individuals scrapped at the soil with trowels to expose potential artifacts and collected the removed soil in buckets. This soil was then sifted through using a standing sieve, ensuring that no small artifacts were overlooked during excavation.

Sifting after shovel scraping

Sifting after shovel scraping

The depth of contexts varied greatly between trenches, with Trench 3 having a pretty deep context 3 while Trench 2’s contexts were overall more shallow. Trench 2 decided to label different contexts on either side of the flagstones that transected their pit. Trench 1 had originally identified 3 different contexts on the same level over their trench section. Throughout the days excavation, they focused on the two side contexts, 2 and 4, then decided that context 3 belonged within context 2, dissolving the distinctions. The excavation crews were able to uncover several more interesting finds, including multiple nails of varying lengths, deposits of charcoal, ceramics, glass, and a metal clasp from Trench 3. Trench 1 even uncovered a corroded bottle cap.

While the excavation crews worked, the total station team took measurements of the survey grid. To do this they lined up the total station with its marker, then recorded the distance between the marker and the total station. This allowed the total station to stay stationary while the marker was moved to the corners of the survey grid. However, it wasn’t as simple as just setting up and taking measurements. The team encountered set backs when the total station couldn’t detect the marker due to trees and other plant matter being in the way. To combat this, several of the team were deployed to hold the branches and leaves out of the path between the marker and total station. The picture below shows the process of lining up the total station and the marker. Added to the picture is the sight line. If this line is broken by plant matter, or people, the total station team would need to clear the line of site.


Nearly all the total station measurements were completed during the class lab period, though near the end some issues were found with the height of the marker, which may have potentially shifted during the day. Corrections were made and the change noted for future use of the readings. Another day of excavation was wrapped up with end of day photography documenting the progress within the trenches, with the excavation teams bagging all collected artifacts.

In class on thursday we began talking about Community Archaeology Day next tuesday and how the different archaeology teams were moving forward with their group projects. The outreach team successfully sent out Community Archaeology Day invitations, while the oral history group set up a ‘Throw Back Thursday’ post through Carleton Archives and have begun collecting stories. Artifact analysis also began in class Thursday, with the class laying out and organizing all found materials so far. A strict organizational scheme was set up to ensure proper labeling and handling throughout the analysis process. The non-organic and non-metal materials were washed and set out to dry for further analysis later. Next week we go into more rigorous artifact analysis and have our last day of excavation.


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