Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Student A.D. in Tennessee

A.D. (right) at Sachsen Cave Shelter.
This summer I participated in a three-week excavation at Sachsen Cave Shelter, Upper Cumberland Plateau, TN. The site dates to the Middle Archaic to Middle Woodland period. Every morning the other students and I drove to the area, hiked a short distance to the site and helped set up the transit. There were a total of twenty-four 1x1 meter units, eight of which were opened this summer. We dug down in 1 cm increments, and each layer was 10 cm. The unit my partner and I excavated was very productive: we found two nutting stones, five whole bifaces, seven halves of bifaces, many bones including a beaver mandible and a deer jaw, several pieces of turtle shell, several pieces of cord marked pottery, and two pieces of steatite.

I think the most interesting aspect of an excavation is finding an artifact, plotting it and cleaning it. Whenever I find an artifact, I know that artifact will either support or oppose my hypothesis regarding the site. Most of the time the artifact will provide evidence to support hypotheses; however, occasionally it will help to disprove hypotheses. For example, while I was digging in the Middle Archaic layer of soil, I found a piece of pottery. Previously, it had been though that people in this period did not have pottery because no pottery has ever been found dating to that period. The piece that I found was 4 cm away from a very small looter’s pit; however, it is unlikely the pottery came from the pit because the pit disappeared in the next 1 cm layer and the pottery was too far from the pit to have been part of that layer.

A.D. is a junior Archaeology major at UE.

No comments:

Post a Comment