Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Real" Archaeology!

In addition to the lab stuff, I recently got the chance to do some "real" archaeology too.

Fort Snelling was going to put in a few maintenance lines and, of course, archaeologists had to be brought in to make sure nothing important was going to be touched by the construction. To sum it up, a total of 15 or so shovel test pits were made and Molly and I got to help out on a couple of them. :)

Yay for digging holes!

A lowdown of shovel test digging:

Shovel tests are basically the equivalent of sampling the cake - you statistically place holes in such a way that the archaeologists get a pretty good overall idea of what the area is like. If there was gravel, glacial rocks, the type of soil, and (of course) artifacts, all turn up during shovel tests.

How they're done is pretty simple - you dig a hole. :) And then you sift through the dirt over a screen. The one we used, pictured below, was a 1/4 inch screen that caught large things. In areas where littler things would be expected to be found, a smaller screen would have been used. But in our case, with not a whole lot being expected to turn up, 1/4 inch was dandy.

And here's me looking dorky. ;)

And finally, all the dirt that comes out... must go back in. And it never quite fits in the same, either.

While Molly and I were out there we found three pieces of a probable colonial era pipe stem, which was pretty nifty. Sadly, nothing else archaeological was found and most of our time was spent putting all that dirt back in its happy home.

But "real" archaeology is pretty fun! Although I could see it getting pretty exhausting pretty quick, our little two hour digging spree was a blast!

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