The Final Countdown: Francisca Chesler’s Week 5

by Francisca Chesler, VCU student

My last week of field school began with a field trip to Colonial Williamsburg. I have only been to Williamsburg once, on an elementary school field trip so I was very excited to visit once again. We visited two excavation sites, one in the center of activity, where archaeologists were working very diligently to uncover the original location of the Market Square building, based on historical records. The other excavation site we visited was the location of the Bray School, a school for slaves where VCU graduate Crystal Castleberry was working as an intern.

Screens at the Bray School Site.

Screens at the Bray School Site.

We ended the day with a lecture on conservation and preservation efforts with Emily Williams and got   to tour their lab. I enjoyed speaking with Emily Williams because I am interested in a career specializing in archaeological conservation.

On Tuesday, Vivian and I worked hard to finished our second unit, with great results. We were the first group to finish excavating both of our units. In addition to this, there were two features in our unit, one of which may have been a planting or even a prehistoric feature.

The unit at the subsoil layer.

The unit at the subsoil layer.

Feature in our unit, possibly from a plant.

Feature in our unit, possibly from a plant.

On Wednesday, we began profiling our first unit with the coordinates N595 E565. I liked profiling because it helped me better understand the stratigraphic relationship of our unit, and how it related to other units where the soil changed color. This was my first time profiling and greatly enjoyed the experience, while not as strenuous as digging or exciting as screening the dirt.

The profile drawing for our first unit.

The profile drawing for our first unit.

On Thursday, with everyone else finishing their second units, I had the opportunity to profile a second unit with the help of Bridget. I thought it was a fun experience to work with other members of field school, as I got to do more drawing, instead of measuring the second time around. In addition to this, I helped Ruth and Bridget trowel through Ruth and Ryan’s baulk. We found a few artifacts, but more than I was previously expecting. These artifacts included oyster and clam shells, nails and tiny ceramic sherds. After field school ended for the day, we all went back to Ferry Farm to celebrate with a group dinner, a viewing of the cinematic masterpiece Sharknado, and a round of trivia with fabulous prizes including temporary tattoos.

Friday, the final day of field school began with a ceramics quiz first thing in the morning. I had been dreading the ceramics quiz since it was first announced, but thanks to the help of my fellow field school students and our study sessions after days in the field, felt adequately prepared. As we went indoors to take the quiz, I felt greatly relieved as I recognized a few of the sherds from the lab, such as the porcelain and tin glazed ceramics. I ended up getting an A on the quiz, and I feel pretty confident in my ability to identify ceramics. After lunch, I was surprised to see my parents walking towards the site! I knew they were going to help me move out later in the day, but had no idea they would be visiting the actual site. I am very happy and fortunate to have such supportive parents, and they took great interest in the site and the museum.

Showing my parents the site.

Showing my parents the site.

Overall, I had an amazing time at field school and this was definitely the highlight of my summer, and a great way to begin my career as an archaeologist. Even though I had moments where I doubted myself, I learned so much in these five weeks and this has definitely given me an idea of what I want to do in the future, especially with the courses I can take at VCU and graduate schools I might apply to. I really cannot wait for classes to start in the fall, and look forward to the 3D Virtual Curation Lab internship in the fall!

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