Field Update #3

I wish I had better news about the weather, but you can probably guess that I don’t. Once again, we’re cooped up inside sorting artifacts and floatation samples. The rain certainly isn’t hampering our productivity in the lab, but we’re getting seriously behind on fieldwork.

Crew members have mixed feelings about getting cozy on the tractor.

Crew members have mixed feelings about getting cozy on the tractor.

Even after the rain ended last week, the road to the site was too wet for Sharon (the project van) to make it out to the tell. The solution? Put all the equipment and project members on the tractor. Normally about half the crew and most of the equipment rides out on the tractor, so it was pretty crowded. Still, the plan worked, and we managed to get a lot done last week.

We usually take Sundays off, but this week Amy and a few of the crew went on an emergency expedition to the tell to take advantage of the sunny weather before the storms arrived. The crew made some pretty significant finds that day! Richie, a member of the European crew, was working on Structure 12 in the trench when the team discovered a slew of pig mandibles and axe fragments.

The crew excavates Structure 12 in the trench.

The crew excavates Structure 12 in the trench.

I talked to Richie about what it was like to be in the trench that day. Richie recounts, “I saw two pig mandibles… we started excavating and we found one more mandible. We continued excavating, and I saw that there were some small pieces… It was also a mandible, a fourth mandible. Then I found a half mandible, and next to it was a broken axe. And then we found a half axe on a rodent hole… Amy found the second piece of this axe in her unit.” Richie was very excited to have been at the center of the find, saying that “it was the first axe that I ever found, so it was great. It was beautiful.” This find has given us more clues about what Structure 12 may have been. We’re very curious about what further excavation in the trench will reveal.

Octavian, another member of the European crew and project photographer is also our resident “wood expert.”

The wood found outside the Structure 11 wall trench.

The wood found outside the Structure 11 wall trench.

This means that whenever we find wood on the site, it’s Octavian’s job to very carefully excavate around it, find its extent, and expose it so we can see exactly what’s going on. Last week, we found quite a bit of wood outside the wall trench of Structure 11. I asked Octavian about his job as the wood expert. Octavian says that the most exciting part about excavating wood is “not knowing how well it is preserved until you uncover it. And not knowing how much it extends.
Octavian carefully excavating the wood.

Octavian carefully excavating the wood.

Compared to [the wood we found] last season, [this find] is a lot larger.” He adds “obviously, that’s more exciting. And also because there were two parallel planks.” This wood, especially because it was found just outside a wall trench, is probably the remnant of a collapsed wall from Structure 11.

Elsewhere on the site, the crew is continuing to bring the rest of the tell down and excavate the remainder of Structure 11. We’re hopeful that the reports are wrong and that it’s not going to storm all week long. Maybe for the first time on this blog I’ll have good news to report about the weather!