Results from June 12, 2007

Today was a bit warmer than yesterday -- but the humidity wasn't that high and we had a good breeze, so overall a fairly pleasant day for digging.

The crew continues to move dirt at an awesome pace -- we've already moved about 15 cubic yards of dirt in only a week. Our real problem is the drought -- with ten inches or so below normal rainfall, the soil is bone dry to as much as 25 or 30 centimeters (10-12 inches) below the ground surface. Not only does this make for unpleasant digging conditions (imagine shoveling through concrete and you'll be close), it also makes the subtle differences in soil texture and color almost impossible to spot. Even when we can see them, they are visible for only a brief time before the heat and wind dries them out.

In order to deal with the situation, we've been forced to start hauling massive amounts of water to the site frequently to wet down the units. Today, we hauled about 120 gallons of water and soaked down several of the excavation areas -- we'll let these soak overnight and then work to identify and map the features in the morning.

Below, Rachel, Travis and Russell hack their way through the concrete-hard plowzone...

Nearby, Jesse, Renee, Teresa and Larry excavated several of the postholes discovered in one of the units. After excavation, photographs of the excavated features were made.

Forty meters to the east, Lynne, Sarah and Erik discovered what appears to be yet another wall trench for a building -- although it showed up fairly clearly when initially exposed, it had dried to invisibility a short while later.

During the day, I worked trying to identify some of the features -- the photo below shows the drought conditions fairly clearly. Although we had soaked this unit down fairly well yesterday, the upper inch or so was already dusty dry again by mid-day today. The "moister" looking areas are where I have scraped off the upper inch or so to get down to the moister soil -- and identify the outlines of a firepit and large trash pit (outlined in yellow).

A closer view of the firepit is shown below -- the lighter colored material is ash mixed with charcoal. The bright orange outlining most of the feature is the result of a hot fire.

Hopefully, the water hauled to the site today will assist us in the morning in identifying the wall trenches, postholes, and pit outlines in our open units. Most of the crew have shifted over to re-excavating our units from last year -- we hope to be able to expose a significant portion of this large wall-trench structure before the end of the class.

More on Wednesday!