Monday, May 23, 2005

Dig, Day 3. We have stripped away two layers of soil inside the middle and south room of the house and are starting to find features. Features are man-made things ranging from walls, floors, pits, and pit structures. The southern room has a Hohokam pit structure. We've been able to trace the edges of it, with a portion extending into the middle room. A grinding stone and a large pottery sherd are visible in the fill, which we will start removing tomorrow.

We've found three pits in the middle room. Two were prehistoric and contained a few pieces of broken pottery and flaked stone pieces- the waste material left behind when stone tools were made. The third pit dates to Tucson's Presidio period- 1775-1850, and contains a large amount of animal bone- cattle, sheep, chicken, and even some sort of fish.

A cattle mandible.

The same pit has yielded bits of majolica pottery and a gun flint.

Someone asked what happens to the artifacts. First we find them by dumping dirt through screens. We use 1/4 inch mesh mostly, although today we used 1/8 mesh when we realized we had fish bones (they are very small). We sort everything by material and then bag them and number the bags. The artifacts are taken to the laboratory and cleaned. Analysts later look at them to identify them- what kind of animal bone, what sort of pottery, The analysts write reports, the nicest artifacts are illustrated, and everything is boxed up and sent off to a local museum. The museum stores the collections, with a few items selected for exhibits. The rest are kept so that future scientists and members of the public can look at them. Modern archaeologists don't keep souvenirs or sell artifacts, doing so would be unethical.

In other news- the trench is dug (I saved $700 by doing so, it took about 8 hours). Saturday was mostly spent lying in bed trying to cool off. It was 109 degrees yesterday, I hung out with Roger for a while and we had a good time. I've been going to bed very early, tired out from all the hard labor. Maybe I should dig ditches for a living?

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