Results from June 22, 2006


When I get out of my car at 7:30 in the morning and almost immediately start to sweat without doing anything more than standing up, I don't need Nostradamus to predict that the day is going to -- well -- "suck" for archaeological labors. During our morning "team meeting," we reviewed our safety protocols for working on days like today and prepared ourselves for a slow workday with lots of water and rest-breaks (except of course, for the two crews that were looking forward to their afternoon in our shady lab washing artifacts!).

With sensitive features under excavation in almost every unit scattered across the field, I was kept busy today moving from unit to unit monitoring progress, providing advice to students, and guzzling a couple of gallons of water in between.

When we opened our units this morning, we discovered that a pair of "homesteaders" had claimed one of them... The pair of voles (aka meadow mice, orchard mice, and field mice) had established an extensive set of runways beneath the grass. We captured them and released them away from the units.

As we delve beneath the plowzone in various areas, we are finding many hundreds of artifacts and features left by the native peoples of this town. The photograph below shows a cluster of these artifacts -- everything from pottery sherds to remnants of meals to jewelry. Nothing of much dollar value -- but of tremendous value to the archaeologist to learn about the daily lives of the people who lived in Castalian Springs way back when.

We completed our excavations of Feature 17 today -- the short trench segment that produced the mica. In the unit directly to the north, we excavated another similar short trench segment -- and will start excavating what appears to be a third one tomorrow (weather permitting!). These features are somewhat enigmatic at this point (in other words -- I'm not sure what they are!). But, in excavations at other nearby sites, we've seen palisade walls that consisted of similar short trench segments. This may be evidence of another version of the wall that surrounded the town. Then again, it may be part of one of the houses/buildings that are overlapping the long trench we believe to be the palisade wall. Give us another week!

To the north, Barrett and Jonathan worked in the blazing sun and finally managed to clearly define another trench that we think will prove to be a continuation of the palisade trench -- and probably part of a bastion or tower.

Back on the western side of our excavations, several crews continued work on "Feature 4" - the large pit/structure. Below, Ryan works on taking out "Level 2" -- removing the midden filling the feature down to the burned orange/red surface.

In a wider view, Ryan, Erica, Lacey, Katie and Georgia work on exposing the very consistent burned surface at the bottom of Feature 4 in all four units. We have laid out four additional units to expose the rest of this feature -- excavations will start on those areas on Friday, Saturday, or Monday -- depending on the weather!

Two alums of last year's field school class at Castalian Springs showed up today to assist. Below, Emily and Mike work on one of the units to see if we can find another section of the palisade wall trench.

In the mid-afternoon, some rumbles of thunder to our west and the weather radio that I keep on site for safety purposes both announced that some thunderstorms were possibly moving in our direction. Having spent about 40 weeks of the last ten years standing in the fields of Castalian Springs teaching archaeology classes, I've developed a pretty good sense of what to watch for in terms of rain and storms. Sometimes they pass around our excavations, sometimes they pass over our excavations. Given the skies today, I made the call to close up early to ensure that we were in a safer location should the hail-producing thunderstorm decide to meander eastward over us.

This time -- the thunderstorms fizzled out before they reached us. Not a drop of rain. Next time -- it might be different. Safety first!

Fortunately, we have our field lab to adjourn to on these afternoons when the weather threatens. We spent the rest of the afternoon washing artifacts.

Tomorrow -- as usual -- is another day. Fortunately, the temperature predictions are back below 90. Unfortunately, the rain and storm predictions are up to 60 percent. Our work will continue -- either in the field or the lab.