Friday, June 24, 2016

It's been hellishly hot lately. We start work at 5 AM and the sweat starts dripping from me at 6:30. We have been quitting at 10:30 AM and often I go into the office to do work and enjoy the AC. I spent two days excavating the entrance way to a Tortolita phase (AD 500 to 700) pit structure. Other people excavated the west half of the structure, uncovering a broken pot in the roof fall material, and some grinding stones (pestle and a mano), a few sherds of pottery, a bone awl, and a rectangular piece of stone (not sure what it was used for) on the floor of the heavily burned house.

Looking south-ish.

The structure is a house-in-pit, meaning the people dug a large pit, probably using digging sticks and maybe stone hoes. They then constructed a house inside the pit. It differs from a true pit house, where the wall of the pit is actually the wall of the house and is sometimes covered with plaster. In this particular house, there is a floor groove with postholes set outside the groove. After the posts were put in place to form the walls and support ceiling beams, other materials, such as woven mats or bundles of reeds, were used to form the interior walls, the bottom of these materials sticking into the floor groove. A few other post holes are present on the floor, perhaps used for posts to help support the roof. A poorly preserved plastered hearth is inside the entranceway. A small pit and a probable pot rest (a depression used for supporting a round-bottomed pot) are present on the adobe floor. We have been mostly excavating 1m by 2m units and half houses because it is too expensive to dig whole houses. In this case, the upper soil was very hard and difficult to dig. Archaeology costs money!

Looking to the north, the dashed line is the unexcavated portion of the house.

The entrance way was very elaborate, the most elaborate yet found at the site. A burned wooden lintel lay at the entry opening. The first step inside had grooves around it and a posthole at each corner. The second step was a sloping passageway with a groove on each side and three or four postholes. Burned reeds were present in the groove. The passage ended in a step down onto the pit structure floor, with curved adobe cones on each side, built around large posts. The passageway was quite worn from foot traffic.

Entrance way.

I have worked on two other houses from the same time period. Each is very different, although it seems that houses with floor grooves are most likely to be from this period while the true pit houses we find date to a later period. Architecture, like modern clothing, homes, and cars, change styles through time, as people experimented with new techniques and construction materials. The artifacts found on house floors help us understand the types of activities that took place inside the houses, and may point to activity areas, where certain craft activities took place.

I've been doing archaeology for 30 years this summer and still get excited by finding new things.

Friday, June 17, 2016

One morning on the dig I arrived and found a sleepy lizard in the pit structure I was digging.

Wonder if lizards dream?

I caught it and put it outside the fence in a safe place.

Hello there.

All of the buckets have my name on them.

Homer's All Purpose Bucket.

I dug an area of what was thought to be a pit structure. One of the first things I found was an Empire Point, maybe 3,000 years ago. The Hohokam often picked up points and re-used them.

Empire Point.

The feature, which may or may not be a pit structure, had many pretty decorated sherds.

I attended a conference in Phoenix and got to spend the night at Craig and Jesse's house. We had Indian food. It was delicious. Afterward, I was asleep by 9 PM (I'm currently getting up at 4:15 AM.


Jesse and I.

So I wake up Sunday to the news of the massacre in Orlando. So tired of gun violence, internalized homophobia, religion, praying politicians, hypocritical politicians, etc. I called all of my elected people and asked them to do something. 

Richard and Hiram had asked me to go to the train show that day and we went to escape the news for a while, The train show turned out to be a bust, it was mostly dealers. We admired the Korean fabric sculptures. I took them to the Presidio Park and then we went to India Oven for Indian food.

Hiram and Richard.

Today, in the sweltering heat, Jenny and I worked on a 1920s outhouse pit at the dig site. A surprise find, filled with domestic trash. Lots of nasty tin cans, poorly preserved, rusted together. About 15 whole bottle though.

Some of the bottles.

I was surprised at how deep the outhouse pit was getting. And then I found a plaster nose, shortly afterward by pieces of a plaster statue. My co-workers described it as "creepy." And then I found a second identical statue, this time only broken in three pieces. It is a 1920s flapper girl.

The figurine.

The figurine is the type that you would get as a prize at a fair. It has hand-painted eyes with lavender eye shadow, she wears a turban, has an evening gown on. 

Close up.

I was worried that the outhouse pit was going to be too deep.

At the four foot level.

We can only dig down five feet before we have to strip back further to meet OSHA rules. The outhouse pit cuts through a Hohokam pit structure, which complicates things.

Jenny screening dirt.

Luckily, I found the bottom just past four feet. On Monday I get to finish the paperwork, map, and do a cross section.

That's if I survive the hellish weekend heat. Supposed to be 114.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I have fired a firearm once, when I was perhaps 12-years-old. That was enough.

When I was in my second year of graduate school at Arizona State University, one of the new students was Philip Zeigler. I instantly knew he was a fellow gay. He wore nice clothes and always too much cologne. His hair was always perfect. He was studying physical anthropology. We knew each other, but didn't become friends. Right at the end of the school year we went to a gay bar together and actually talked and had a good time.

Philip decided to take a year off and moved to Dallas and got a job working at a hotel. Right after midnight on January 1, 1990, he was walking home with a friend when they were confronted by three men who demanded their wallets at gunpoint. They handed them over and then Philip grabbed his back. One of the men shot him in the head. As he lay dying they called him a faggot and other names.

The police never made much of an effort to find the man who killed him, even though they had physical descriptions and fingerprints on the wallet. The Dallas police department wasn't particularly interested in finding out who killed gay men back then.

Before Philip's murder I didn't think much about firearms. Afterward, I have grown to hate them.

30,000+ people are murdered ever year in the United States from firearms. That is about 750,000 people since 1990. The politicians do nothing. Oh sure, they "pray" every time there is a mass shooting. But Republicans love the money the NRA funnels to them, so they will never do anything to stop the epidemic of killing.

You just wonder if it will happen to you, or to someone you know. I suppose it will, someday.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Well it is a bazillion degrees outside. Summer has arrived. I put the little window-mounted AC unit in and it is cranked up. Still, a couple of rooms away I am busy sweating.

 I went over and collected Patrick and we drove up to Richard's house to play pool volleyball. It was a lot of fun, although I am fairly sore at the moment.

David, Todd, Gordon, Mark, Roger, Richard, and Patrick.

I made an angel food cake (so easy!) and lemon curd to go on it. It was pretty tasty.

Today I went to work, stopping beforehand at Trader Joe's. Finishing up a report. Then home. Then to the hospital to visit Doug. Tomorrow out to dig until it gets too hot. 

Life continues. Still increasingly stressful. I may have to make some pretty drastic decisions soon.

Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

comments powered by Disqus