Digging up Answers and Questions, by Alicia Arnold (WSP15)

What does it mean to be a student of archaeology?  I’m not sure, my degree is in English.  However, being a part of this dig is teaching me a lot.  A fellow student and I thought of making our own memes to describe some of the struggles of being on an archaeological dig.  Example: “I don’t always get angry with trees, but when I do it is because they are messing up my strata and making my context difficult.”DSC01357     I promise, that was a funny meme.  The earth is stratified, with lower layers and almost always from an older time period.  Sometimes when people dig holes, where insects or animals burrow, or when trees push their roots through the ground, the strata gets disturbed.  That makes it a little more difficult as I dig through layers with a trowel to understand the soil context.

People have joked with me about how this is supposed to be like Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider…but, it’s not.  We are real people doing a real job.  We are historians doing field research to try to piece the past back together.  Sometimes we do so literally.  Bones, ceramics, rusted iron, glass and features such as remains of walls all tell us something.  On days or sections where nothing is found, that tells us something too and is still useful information with its context changes.DSC01389     A reporter asked me if this dig is what I expected and I honestly answered that I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started.  Now I know that where you expect the footer trench for a wall to be may be wrong and the wall is just sitting on clay.  An artifact found may increase our knowledge of the picture of the puzzling site, or it may challenge pre-existing hypotheses.  As cliché as it sound, maybe I should expect the unexpected when it comes to the dig.  Everyday brings new challenges and new knowledge.


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