While other trenches may be finding walls, bits of statue, coins and other fascinating stuff, we have been steadily working away at our trench. At the moment is just a nicely levelled rectangular area of soil with an annoying amount of rocks and a jumble of artefacts from varied time periods. Yesterday we excavated four buckets of artefacts, representing almost 2,000 years of history, which we then spent several hours washing and even longer sorting by function and time period. Today we were very efficient at moving a lot more soil but this area had far fewer fragments of pottery, glass, metal and bone which meant we didn't have as much to wash and sort (whew!).
One of the things I hope to do during this dig is to clear up misconceptions about what archaeologists actually do. It is not just about finding statues or coins (and that's not just because I've never found one!) it is about making sense of the 'stuff' left behind and letting it tell you a story about people from the past.
As I look at the neatly excavated trench, I wonder what lies beneath the 20 cubic meters of soil that my team will soon be removing. What will the changes in sediment colour tell me? When will we stop having modern artefacts mixed up with Medieval pottery? Will we find a secure deposit of Hellenistic pottery to give us a firm date? Will there be a stone wall under there or even a mosaic or will there just be more sediment with nothing in it? Only time and a bit of careful digging will tell. Better get back to it!
- Peta Knott