Various archaeological, historical, and other related musings. Historical archaeologist by trade, classical by training.
Background Illustrations provided by: http://edison.rutgers.edu/

Packing for Field School vs. Packing for a Project

It struck me this morning as I re-packed at the last minute that I’m carrying the same two pieces of luggage that I carried to field school in Sicily, with a few crucial differences:

1) For field school I brought two family sized shampoos and two family sized conditioners. Now I use shampoo maybe every 5 days and just condition. It’s better for my hair anyway.

2) For field school I had an obscene amount of field clothes- most of my duffel bag consisted of t-shirts that I never wore. Granted we didn’t have access to a washing machine, but still. I would much rather run out of dig clothes than clean, none sweaty, non dirty clothes to change into.

3) A pair of boots. For field school I wore sneakers. Oh how young and naive I was.

4) Running clothes and running shoes. No wonder everything hurt after that first dig- I never stretched after being cramped into a trench all day.

5) Make-up. Now I still have make-up packed but these days you’ll be hard pressed to see me in anything other than mascara, if I’m wearing any at all. The days of doing my face in the morning are gone.

6) For field school I packed a hairdryer, salon brush, and hairspray. Not that any of it was usable with European plugs, but I still had it. As for what I’ve packed now, see the first comment about my hair.

7) An iPad. Thank God tablets were invented.

Now I’ll open it up: what did you bring to field school that was wildly impractical? What have you learned about packing for the field since then?

Summer #fieldwork cont.- Nantucket bound

Despite having completed a field project already this summer I’ve been blogging very little about fieldwork this summer for two main reasons:

1) since we were working on an indigenous site, there was a social media blackout (the exception being the project blog) to prevent any looting or other damage to the site

2) I was busy writing on the project blog, which can find here if you’re so inclined 

It was an absolutely fascinating project for the nerdiest reasons possible.  For one, new stratigraphy.  I’ve done most of my digging in the Mid-Atlantic and had never heard of “glacial soils” until I started digging in New England this summer.  For two, we dug stratigraphically in arbitrary levels.  That means that even though we followed the stratigraphy we dug in 10 cm increments and bagged the artifacts from those 10 cm levels together.  Unless there was a strat change in the middle of a level, in which case you start a new bag for that level.  It was super confusing at first, but in the end it helped when I found myself in a particularly tricky unit on a slope, of course, where the east half (the higher half) was full of sediments in the process of becoming soils while the west half (the lower half) was your standard A and B horizon soils.  At any given moment we had four different strata going in one level.  You can read more about it here

In two hours I will depart for Hyannis, where I will catch a ferry to Nantucket to start work on the Seneca Boston-Florence Higginbotham House, owned by the Museum of African-American History in Boston.  The Fiske Center has worked there previously, and this year’s excavations will be focusing on some of the outbuildings associated with the house.

The project has a condo for the six of us, so I’m sure these next few weeks will be something out The Real World, but what else would you except from a bunch of archaeologists? 

Reblogged from britishbullet  45 notes
suzythered:

It’s the time of year when a lot of people are heading into the field, and I thought this might be of some use to anyone needing a little refresher on proper soil identification. Knowing how to describe soils is important— regardless if you’re digging test pits or excavating units— and this chart from the Colorado State University Extension Office makes it pretty easy. Their website also goes into more detail for anyone who wants it.

Literally just had a conversation about this in the field.  Both another grad student and I came from long stints on projects in one large area where soil descriptions were basically just repeated ad nauseam on paperwork.  This sheet came in handy when we had to do them for the first time this week.  Still cannot manage to shake the 10 YR page though.

suzythered:

It’s the time of year when a lot of people are heading into the field, and I thought this might be of some use to anyone needing a little refresher on proper soil identification. Knowing how to describe soils is important— regardless if you’re digging test pits or excavating units— and this chart from the Colorado State University Extension Office makes it pretty easy. Their website also goes into more detail for anyone who wants it.

Literally just had a conversation about this in the field.  Both another grad student and I came from long stints on projects in one large area where soil descriptions were basically just repeated ad nauseam on paperwork.  This sheet came in handy when we had to do them for the first time this week.  Still cannot manage to shake the 10 YR page though.

In Which I Finally Write About Returning to the Field

In my first field school in Sicily we were instructed to not reveal the details of what we were finding to our Sicilian friends.  Looting was a real problem; the store across the street from the bar we frequented was probably a front for antiquities.  We found exactly one coin that season, and dutifully told no one, mentioning pick-axing bedrock instead.

I was surprised to encounter a similar attitude at the site where I’m currently working.  As much as I would like to be tweeting and blogging frequently from the field the reality of the situation is that we are working in a semi-public area that sees a lot foot traffic, and the last thing we want is for curious teenagers to stumble onto the site and do what they’ve been doing elsewhere in our units.

But the social media blackout also comes from the fact that for this particular project, since it is in partnership with the local community, information is tightly controlled.  So while I have not been blogging here, I have been writing on the project’s blog.  These will make their way up the chain of command and hopefully be posted soon.  It is definitely a complete 180 from the previous projects I have worked on, although in truth the project that was most enthusiastic about social media was a CRM project. 

But seriously.  I’m so happy to be back in the field that I could sing.