Saturday, June 4, 2011

May 30: Getting Acquainted

The theme of the first day of the field school was "getting acquainted." The first meeting of field school students took place in the gazebo at Nolichucky Bluffs, where we went over the history project investigations, reviewed important procedures, and introduced ourselves. Many of the students are Anthropology majors or graduate students in ISU’s Master’s Program in Archaeology, but undergraduate majors also include History and Renewable Energy and Native American Studies minors. A few had attended field schools before, but East Tennessee was new to all of them.

We all pitched in to organize the lab area and were glad that we had a cool retreat from the record-breaking heat. The temperature was about 10 degrees above typical temperatures for this time of year. One of the most important pieces of archaeological field equipment is not a trowel or a shovel, but the field notebook. Students labeled their notebooks, numbered the pages, and organized the table of contents. Field notes are the place to record initial impressions, details of the conditions of fieldwork, and the basic day-to-day work, such as survey and excavation activities. It is also the place where each person keeps track of any photographs he or she takes, the provenience of artifacts excavated, and the discoveries of survey.

The last place we started to get to know was the site for this year’s investigations, 40GN9 in Greene County, Tennessee. Students got a chance to take a casual stroll through the field, and they found the site right away!

Later that evening, we gathered together for a Memorial Day cookout. Neil Cech and Steve Scheflow grilled some excellent burgers. The porch of their cabin has a magnificent view of the Nolichucky River and was the perfect setting to enjoy a chat and share a delicious meal.

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