week three

The next Saturday of archaeological fieldwork at the Clarke County Museum began with mapping an area for new excavation and completing a map of the site. A "total station," a device used like a transit, is used to insure that each excavation area is precisely located on a map and that each area is a 1x1 meter square. A topographic map is generated using a computer program. This map shows small differences in the topography of the yard and provides clues as to where archaeologists might excavate next.
One focus of the day's excavations was features. These are identified by differences in soil color and texture and also include artifact concentrations. However, a soil color/texture difference might result from a natural occurrence such as the burning of a tree stump. Archaeologists will excavate one-half of a feature in order to look at it in profile. It is usually easy to distinguish a post hole dug by people from the stain left by a tree root, because the post will be straight and will have a distinctive bottom. If the feature is determined to be the result of human activity, the remainder is excavated. These two features are thought to be post holes and probably represent two different fences because they are so close together.

In addition to careful digging of 1x1-meter units and features, archaeologists must carefully record a variety of information. As you excavate an archaeological site, you destroy it! In order to save the information for future study, archaeologists take notes and pictures and make maps. This includes drawing the exact locations of features, recording the soils in each 1x1-meter unit profile, and writing descriptive information on a form.

The crew of volunteers and staff excavating at the Clarke County Museum had a great time! If you ever get a chance to volunteer at an archaeological site, give it a try. You will be glad you did!

Copyright © 2013 by The University of South Alabama
Last Updated:
Thursday, July 23, 2015 8:30 AM