Righting a completed structure

This is the week we actually start excavating out at Mound House.  But, before we could get started, we had some prep work to do. While this part isn’t much fun compared to what we’re going to be doing, it’s an essential part of archaeology.

First off, we had to sharpen our trowels, which took a while since they’re normally pretty blunt. We need to be able to “shave” the dirt in thin layers to make the soil more “readable” on a flat surface, and the trowels we use need to be pretty sharp to do that. Other tools sometimes get the same treatment, such as shovels, but today it was just our trowels.

We also went over how we’re going to fill out the paperwork involved in excavating a layer of soil at a time, since once a site is excavated, it’s destroyed. If we want future archaeologists to know exactly what was going on at a site, such as the context we found a flint blade in, we have to leave a good record for them, so unfortunately for now we’re stuck with mountains of paperwork.

When we got out to Mound House, we had to cut down the grass carefully to avoid disturbing the datum points (where we take measurements for everything in a test) and get the screen tables and metal frames for sun screens set up. While the sun screens are just so we can work in the shade, the screen tables allow us to screen the dirt we pull out and find smaller artifacts that we’d otherwise miss.

Since we didn’t have enough time to start pulling the tarps up and reopen the old squares, we took a short field trip around the site. The levees mean there isn’t much left of the original mounds, which is a shame even though we’re excavating the places where people would have lived, not the mounds themselves. But the areas we’re excavating are still going to tell us more about who lived there, when, and what they were doing, so it’s not terrible. The mounds will stay untouched.

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