Week 5 (Tuesday Lab)

Waterford Mill Site – Gridded Collection, Excavation, and Mapping

This week at the Waterford Mill site, the Tuesday lab split up into three groups in order to continue the archaeological work at the mill: two groups did gridded collection of a few of the survey units, 2 other groups did small excavation trenches around the site area, and one other group did mapping in the site. As this was our first day doing actual excavation, there was a bit of a slow start and a learning curve for all of us to get comfortable with our jobs, but having had this day to get a little experience with the somewhat hectic atmosphere at the site will be very helpful continuing forward with the excavation in future weeks.

     Two teams of three people did a gridded collection in the survey area: Claire, Jaylen, and Ilan; and Matthew, Aubrey, and Wendy. Each group picked up where last week’s Wednesday lab had left off in the survey site. One group surveyed survey units F12 and F13, while the other group surveyed units G11 and G12, respectively (see diagram below). Each group spent 10 minutes surveying the area and pointing out finds, then 5 minutes bagging the notable finds. Two people surveyed while one person recorded on the Survey Unit forms. The group surveying F12 and F13 found 3 metal beer cans, crushed and somewhat modern, as well as a bunch of glass shards and plastic bits. These were found all in unit F12, just inside the mill wall. This collection group had to re-orient unit F13 since it was askew, but once that had been done, they found four strips of rusted sheet metal (too large to bag) and a chip bag (too contemporary to bag). The other collection crew found more cans and some metal wire, as well as some glass bottles that still had writing on them.

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A schematic diagram of the survey units at the Waterford Mill Site.

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A piece of sheet metal that one of the excavation teams (Claire, Ilan, and Jaylen) found in survey unit F13.

     Two teams started to excavate strategically picked areas around the site. The first team (Ali, Seth, and Judi) excavated next to a trash pit. They started the excavation by laying out a 1×1 meter grid using measuring tape and stakes, and then marked the square with string (picture of the trench below). The first step was to clear the surface of vegetation and rocks, as well as any artifacts that were lying directly on the surface. These artifacts were collected, sorted by type, and then bagged; they included metal, ceramic, and glass items. After this surface work, the team continued to shovel shave the area by about an inch, where they found more artifacts similar to the ones described above. Due to time constraints, this is as far as the first team got.


The first team’s excavation trench.

     The second team (Julianne, Tanya, and Anya) chose to excavate an area next to the wall of the lower structure. Like the first team, they set up a 1×1 meter grid using the same methods, and marked it off with string (picture below). Vegetation and rocks also had to be removed from the surface, but there were no artifacts to be collected. The team began to shovel shave the surface, where they found numerous pellets from an airsoft gun. Some of these were collected and bagged. However, no other artifacts of interest were found. Again, due to time constraints, this is as far as the second team got.


The second team’s excavation trench.

   The remaining members of the lab section participated in mapping. Brendan and Elise worked together to do DGPS mapping of the area so that the subsequent lab group would be able to translate the labels on the DGPS mapping readings from our group. The mapping groups also took down the locations of our individual trenches that were dug, and later on will hopefully incorporate the information on what sorts of finds were dug up and where.

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Google Earth representation of the Waterford Mill Site, with the Tuesday group lab mapping points in white and the Wednesday group mapping points in blue.

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DGPS points from Tuesday lab; the red circle represents the first group’s trench (trench 1), the yellow circle represents the second group’s trench (trench 2), and the cyan lines represent the area covered by the gridded survey team.

     With the excavation started and the gridded survey on its way, we are making progress in uncovering the Waterford Mill. Looking to future labs, we hope to continue finding artifacts of interest as well as analyzing the entire area as a whole, applying what we learn in class to the field work.