written by Linda Ziegenbein
Well, yesterday’s layer of cinder and ash ended up being….a thin layer of cinder and ash. Jill isolated the feature and then bisected it so that we could see how deep it went and if there were any artifacts associated with it. She discovered it is not very deep and didn’t have any artifacts mixed into the soil. So, while I hope that the ashes and cinder were the result of a nice backyard fire, it doesn’t look like it will tell us much about the house’s residents.
And this is what the process of archaeological fieldwork is like. We’ll see something — maybe a change in the soil color or texture, or the sudden appearance of a lot of animal bone — that will make us pause to consider whether it warrants further exploration. We’ll make a decision based on what we see in other units, our knowledge of the background of the site, and our own experience on archaeological sites. If we decide to explore that area further, we’ll often carefully excavate around it so that the area we are interested in is raised a little bit. Then, we’ll often divide it in half so that we get a sense of how deep the feature is and we’ll screen the soil from the feature separately. Remember, archaeology is all about understanding context and relationships between artifacts and knowing where the artifacts were found is an important part of the work we do (and the paperwork!)