Last, But Not Least: Lauren Volker’s Week 5

by Lauren Volkers, VCU student

Day 24 (Monday): Today we went to Colonial Williamsburg to get a tour of the archaeology sites and to see their lab. When we first arrived we went to one of the archaeology sites, one of them is across from the court house. One of the directors, Andrew Edwards, gave us an overview of the site and what they are looking for. Currently they are looking for a Market Square house that was on a Frenchmen’s map in 1782. They use this map to help them get an idea of where the buildings use to be. Dr. Edwards also talked about Jimmy trenches that they encounter. Jimmy trenches are named after Jimmy Knight who dug trenches every meter to look for buildings. After we went to another site where we visited a VCU grad, Crystal Castleberry. Crystal then told us about the site she is working on with other interns. The site use to be the site of the Bray School that educated slave children owned by William and Mary. Then we took a quick break for lunch and met up with Emily Williams who works in the lab and gave us a short lecture on reconstruction. We got a tour of their lab and got to see how they clean artifacts. They even had an x-ray of a vessel to see what it was, which was really cool.

Field Director Andrew Edwards talking about the site.

Field Director Andrew Edwards talking about the site.

Day 25ish: Today Mariana and I were in the lab all day. In the morning we washing artifacts from last year’s field school and then ate lunch outside with everyone else. It was interesting to see how they wash artifacts and the different tools they use. After lunch we learned to bag artifacts, I didn’t know how detailed they were. First you take a dry tray and go through each type of artifact and then group the ones that are the same. The plus side Mariana and I got some ceramic practice in before our test. After we got to label some artifacts, which was very meticulous. I really enjoyed labeling but trying to get the little bits of paper to face the right way was really annoying.

 

Mariana in the lab washing a tooth.

Mariana in the lab washing a tooth.

Day 26ish (Wednesday): In the morning Mariana and I finished our colonial layer, but ran into a root mold so we had to stop and get a new context for it. After we didn’t find anything we continued digging our transition layer and we reached subsoil just a little after lunch. We had to keep digging earlier because we had coal flecking in our soil. Once we finished out our unit we got to remove our SW balk. Removing a balk is much easier because you only need a context if you find something and you go down by layers.

Our finished unit!

Our finished unit!

Day 27ish: Once we finished our balk in the morning we then got to learn how to profile our wall. I think profiling is one of my favorite things to do, its oddly relaxing. First you have to line a level string to make sure your measurements are accurate. Then you score the wall to see the stratigraphy in the wall and measure each layer each half an inch. Then you get the old paper work to right down what the soil color and texture was for each layer. In the afternoon Dr. Means surprised us with a field trip to Dove Tail to look at their facility. It was really interesting to see how they run their lab because they were able to transform an office facility into a working archaeology lab. After we returned to finish up our paper work and then cover up the site.

Mariana and I’s scored East wall profile.

Mariana and I’s scored East wall profile.

 

Day 28ish (Last day): This morning we started with our ceramic’s test, which went pretty well and then we had our weekly group discussion. After, we all of the field students went down to the Rappahannock River to see if anyone could through a stone across to the other side like George Washington supposedly did. My first throw was horrible! I released the rock to late and ended up throwing it on the ground, but my second try I did much better. Aaron had the best throw out of everyone and made it pretty close to the other side. After Mariana and I did both our unit summaries and then we profiled some south walls. After I finished one of our unit summaries I got to do a whole wall profile by myself, which was super exciting! At the end of the day most of the other field school students left so the last of us got to sign the tool box for this year’s field school and then put tarps over our units for the last time, sadly. This maybe the last day, but this experience has been amazing and I will surely never forget it.

All of our finished units and the utility trench going through them.

All of our finished units and the utility trench going through them.

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