Field School 2016 – Week 8
Laura Keeran — St. Mary’s College
“Beating the Heat”
Week eight was a slight change in pace. After a busy week of trips and sailing, four of us went back to a full week in the field while August Rowell and Alaina Wall worked in the lab.
Wednesday started out with a nice visit down Mattapany Road to the St. Mary’s College athletic fields to see an archaeological field crew as they worked on endless rows of shovel test pits. The surveying there is being done in preparation of the new athletic facilities that will be constructed in the near future. It was very interesting to watch the shovel test pitting in process. We had learned a bit about survey methods during the lectures in the first week but had not had an opportunity to see it in practice. Also, Dr. Julia King, the crew’s director, was sweet enough to bring donuts in anticipation of our visit which, of course, got us all interested. (Thanks again!)
Later that morning we received a visitor of our own. High school student Lauren was awesome enough to dedicate a few days of her summer break to joining us in the field. She was a big help this week since we were short on people with two students in the lab.
To cap the day off we had a lecture by Michael Smolek about cultural resources management (CRM) on the PAX River Naval Air Base. The lecture gave great insight to the CRM life and all the struggles and surprises that come along with it. Before the lecture I had mostly heard negatives about the field, but after seeing some of the cool artifacts and features they were able to save on PAX, I realized how exciting and rewarding the job can be, despite struggles of strict deadlines and lots of paperwork.
On Thursday we got more help. The lab interns, Emily, Matthew, and Mickey also joined us in the field and helped us trowel for features and set shiners for two new five by five units.
On Friday we opened up the new units and had lots of topsoil screening to do. Fun! But luckily we had many helping hands to pick grass out of the screens all afternoon.
Saturday was a struggle through blistering heat and total station troubles. Our helpers had all moved on and Sarah, Sabrina, Sam, and I were the only students left in the field for the hottest day of the heat wave. While Sabrina worked on shoveling and troweling, Sarah, Sam, and I worked on mapping the bricks in our new unit.
The first fifteen or so minutes of mapping were spent by me holding my head in frustration replotting the same points over and over again because they were completely off from where they should have been. I learned that day how sensitive transits can be and to ask if something is else is wrong and not assume that it is just me. At least I got some mapping experience out of it all. We mapped for the rest of the morning and for an hour and a half after lunch and then Ruth and Travis told us to go home early since we had done so well in the unbearable heat.
The week ended with another day of mapping. I mapped a profile for the first time. It took me the whole morning but I was proud of the finished product. Along with mapping features in the afternoon, we also got the bricks removed from our new unit. I can proudly say we got a lot done in the field this week and I learned new things. Two more weeks to go! Next weekend (July 30th and 31st) are the Tidewater Archaeology Days. Come join us! We are always excited to show visitors what we have been up to.