2019 Week 5, Part 1

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Field School 2019 – Week 5, Part 1
Alden Grosh — St. Mary’s College of Maryland

“Troweling and Troweling and Troweling”

After a very sunny and nice weekend, we headed into our fifth week of the Historic St. Mary’s City field school!

The dig site has certainly changed since Week One!

On Monday, June 24th we started our day at the Mill site at 8:30 as usual and begin preparing our site: taking out artifact buckets, tents, spades, and uncovering the plastic off our units. It was a hot sunny day in the upper eighties with little-to-no wind. I was assigned to unit 12730 D with McKenna Litynski. This was a new unit that needed to be excavated. By the end of the day, the unit had reached the bottom of the plow zone. So we did work mostly with the spades. We also did a large amount of screening for artifacts. We found brick, bone, ceramics, metal, and lithics. We also worked on getting our unit walls straight and even.

On Tuesday we reached subsoil and took down the baulk separating unit 12730 and the unit to the south of it. It was a very hot day again and too windy to use our tents so we did a lot of work in the sun so we had to spray our units with water to make it easier to trowel. The sun would make the soil extremely hard. We found all of the same types of artifacts from the day before except McKenna and I found a glass bead in our screen. We also started troweling the unit to make it even and slowly lowering it. We continued to work on our unit walls.

James Jackson provides some much-needed shade as his unit partner, Grant Zopp, finishes up some clean troweling

On Wednesday we did multiple “clean trowels” in the unit which uncovered a brick concentration in the middle of our unit as well as a large bone fragment [Editor’s note: clean troweling entails carefully scraping soil from the floor of a unit to leave a clean surface to identify features]. Wednesday was also very hot reaching around 89 degrees. We also had our units sprayed with water periodically to keep from it getting dry. McKenna and I also helped Grant Zopp and James Jackson in the unit to the north of ours take down their baulk.

On Thursday we leveled out our units with the two connecting units to the south.  It was the hottest day we have worked so far, reaching real feels of 94 degrees. McKenna and I also continued to take down our unit little by little and clean troweled multiple times. Sofia Aletta had an exciting find of an animal jaw bone in her unit and we got to watch her use brushes and dental tools to extract it. We also were given a great and informative lecture by Stephanie Whitehead on conservation and what that job entails, including the different types of conservation such as art, books and papers, archaeology, and museum conservation. She also covered the cleaning, chemistry, chemicals, types of tools, and patience involved in working in a conservation lab.

Sofia Aletta carefully excavates a mandible using a dental pick (how appropriate!)

Friday marks the last before a three-day weekend because we will be moving sites from the Mill Field to the Calvert House starting on Tuesday next week. I’m super excited for a change of scenery and a little more shade!