Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 10 - Crazy from the Heat

After two days of deluge, today's foray into the field was met with extreme heat and humidity. Despite this, and the usual exhaustion and exasperation such excavation situations bring, the work day proved to be very interesting. Although hot and humid, the ground and equipment were dry, and therefore we were able to devote a normal full day to field work. The day started with taking a Munsell reading of yesterday's levels, and then students began troweling and shovel-skimming their way down to the bottom of their level 3's. As the morning progressed, some of the students got up-close and personal with some of the local wildlife:

We have encountered about three spiders of roughly this size in the field so far this season. Aside from obvious examples such as tarantulas, these are some of the largest spiders many of us have ever seen. Let us hope "human" isn't on this critter's menu.

Despite the uncomfortable weather, work went on as usual. Here are a few notable action shots of the day:

Working hard sifting dirt.

This one goes to Eleven
(video clip in case you aren't familiar with the phrase)

Today's excavations produced a particularly interesting find: a very nicely-preserved check-stamped ceramic sherd.

Check-stamped ceramics are common during the Woodland period of East Tennessee, but are also not unusual in Mississippian or historic contexts as well. Many of the students agreed that this particular specimen was the nicest preserved one they had seen - possibly even nicer than other check-stamped sherds in our type collection!

One of the students showing off her spectacular find of the day: the check-stamped sherd.

Many other students were proud of their finds this week as well. Here are a few more pictures of students showing off their finds from earlier in the week:

A ceramic sherd.

Another ceramic sherd.

As the day progressed, the weather got increasingly oppressive. Thankfully, the owner of the land where the Yellow House site is located came to our rescue and brought us some tents to work under for the remainder of the afternoon. They were a pain to set up and take down, but they did provide a reprieve from the glaring sun for awhile.

Working in luxury.

As the afternoon progressed and the students continued digging, measuring, sifting, and bagging; Dr. Jeb Card and Burton Smith began opening up last year's unit 20S 15E, which was the unit with the post holes. We hope to have the living floor of this unit reopened for analysis and visual reference by early next week.

At the end of the day, most students had finished or had come close to finishing their level 3's. Between downpours, mud, and oven-hot conditions, the students persevered without complaint this week. With the arrival of the weekend, they get a much-needed break, and will begin again fresh on Monday.

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