Monday, July 5, 2010

Mini Video: The End is Just the Beginning

The Thrill of Backfill

One of the least glamorous jobs in archaeology is also one of the most important. It is rare for excavations to remain open because the freshly exposed surfaces are vulnerable. The layers of soil removed by excavation were a protective blanket that lessened the damage of wind and water erosion as well as the destructive actions of living organisms (plants and animals, including humans). A good way to protect excavated sites is to backfill, or re-fill the areas of investigation with soil. In our excavations, we backfilled with either a bright red clay or a sandy soil with lots of cobbles (river-smoothed stones). Even the small features, such as the postmolds shown below, were filled with bits of plastic or tyvek and bright red clay.

These unusual soils and materials are easy to distinguish from the typical deposits of the site area, so the backfill is a marker for the limits of our investigations. With these markers to guide us, we can be assured that in future seasons we will indeed be breaking new ground.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Presentation at Cherokee

This year the members of our field school had the unique opportunity and privilege of presenting our research and findings to the community at Cherokee, North Carolina. Each student chose a subject of their interest related to our work at the site, and researched that topic over the course of several weeks. The subjects ranged from determining household usage of vessels from variations in form and design, interpreting soil discoloration to conclude the existence of long gone structures, to the cooperation of historical account with archaeological evidence to inform one another about the past. The material was then pulled together visually on posters like the one to the right on vessel form by Liz.

The event drew a good crowd for a Thursday afternoon and proved to be an excellent means for bringing the
research of the Yellow
House Site to
the local community. To the left, Jessica uses artifacts from our site to discuss lithic crafting methods with a visitor. In the other, Jenna goes over features found in this and previous years’ units.