Friday, July 2, 2010

Rock or Pottery?

First day on the dig site! But lets back it up a little, I'll come back to that.

Yesterday we visited both dig sites we will be working on, the primary one at Coconut Walk, and the second one at Indian Castle. They are both on the windward side of the island, so the ocean is treacherous but there is a very nice breeze to cool us down. When it is not muddy, our land rovers and vans can drive right up to the Coconut Walk, which is very nice. Indian Castle is about at 15 minute walk down the beach from the furthest point our vehicles can make it, which is inconvenient for us and our equipment, but helps keep random people from unintentionally disturbing anything (picking up old looking things). After getting acquainted with the digs, we went to lunch at Double Deuce, a very cool beach-side restaurant and bar. The trip picked up the tab as well, which made it doubly sweet. Jessica and I had goat cheese salads and fries, all of which was truly amazing. The goat cheese hunk was very unique, I had never had anything like it, or any cheese I liked as much. Fitzpatrick gave us about two hours to rest and relax after lunch. Much of the group, including Jessica and I, got a beer and went swimming to cool off, always something we value in this Caribbean weather. After swimming for an hour or so we broke off into volleyball and ping-pong, Jessica opted for the former and I went for the latter. We had a few hours off after the buses picked us up and dropped us back off at Hurricane Cove. At 5:00PM we left for orientation at Rumors, another restaurant/bar. The trip bought us all pizza and the Ph.D's gave an overview of policies and good dig practices. Dinner was very good and the orientation quick and informative. We got back from Rumors around 7:30PM. Jessica, the rest of the group and myself went down to the beach/bar for a swim and a few beers. We had some interesting animal sightings, blue fish similar to what we call Gar fish in the US poked our legs, eating dead skin we believe, mostly painlessly. Later that night we saw our first Caribbean bioluminescent plankton, as we moved around in the water we looked as if we were burning in a green fire.

Back to today! Dr. Fitzpatrick gave us a break this morning, we met the buses (they are actually similar to 12 passenger vans) at 7:30AM instead of our normal 6:30AM. We were on site by 8:00 and working almost immediately. I volunteered to be one of the 3 assigned to cut back a grove of cacti 1.5m or so along the south side of our southern most Coconut Walk site. With my trail making experience, I felt that the machete should be in my hands. It was very hard, very hot, very very sharp work. But we did well and had it cleared in <45 minuets. During that time most the rest of the group divided into two teams, one for both of our excavations. I don't know much about what the northern group did, but they used much larger tools and dug quite a bit more than we did. I get the feeling they are doing more of a quick and dirty site, vs our very meticulous one. All of the Ph.D's worked on the north site besides Dr. Fitzpatrick, he supervised us at the south site. Jessica helped turn a 5m by 5m square into a grid of 25 1m by 1m squares. After the grid was complete, we all picked a square and begin removing surface material. We kept all pottery, shells, chert and bones we found, and discarded any coral and rocks. After the material laying loose on the surface was collected, we bagged it up and labelled it. After a short break for water and sunscreen, we began excavating down 5cm. We almost exclusively used our trowels, with some help from dust pans, to gently scrape down a tiny bit at a time. Any important things were set aside, all other dirt, grass, rocks, coral and plants were put into a bucket and then dumped into our waste pile. Jessica and I worked together on square 24 for about two hours, clearing about 30% of it down to 5cm. We collected about a softball size pile of artifices, mostly food shells with some pottery, 2-3 pieces of chert (used to make tools) and one fish vertebrate. The most interesting thing we found was part of a pot lip, rounded on one side. Kevin found poetry with what looked like a fish eye carved in, and two other squares turned up pottery with a white stripe. The other north dig found very little (they will find more when they get deeper). Their most interesting find was pottery with circular designs in it. We broke for lunch at about 1:00PM. At 2:00PM our bus came to take whoever wanted to get more groceries to town. Jessica and I stocked up for the week, including some fruit which we are very excited about. We didn't have lab today, so we are free until Monday! Jessica and I have our first day of SCUBA training tomorrow morning at 9:00AM, which we are both exceptionally stoked for.

Well, that's all for now.


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