Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Angel Site Part 2 Excavation

Hi everyone, welcome back to the Father Angel Site in Greene County, southwestern Pennsylvania! This blog post is about some of the methods employed by archaeologists

The first thing everyone needs to know is that there are several phases or steps in conducting archaeological excavations. I'm going to explain each phase to make it easy to understand the work involved in doing field work.

Phase Ia- Background research, property research, deeds, death certificates, etc.

Phase I Survey- digging small .50m X .50m square or round shovel test pits (STPs) and screening the soil for artifacts. These holes are placed on an imaginary grid, with a datum point (beginning point) and aligned either to true north, grid north, or magnetic north.

Phase II- At this phase, there were artifacts were found in the shovel test pits, and these pits were expanded to 1m X 1m shovel test units (STUs). These are 1 meter square and can be a meter or more in depth depending on the soil conditions. Let's say, a floodplain of a stream or river compared to a farmer's field.

Phase III Site Mitigation- At this point, a substantial site has been discovered and a large excavation must occur. These projects are big, expensive, and can be long term, from weeks to months to several years! This is the point at which the most of a site is excavated. I say most, because archaeologists generally do not dig 100% of a site. We like to leave a portion for future archaeologists with better tools, equipment, and technology to excavate to get better information.

On today's video, I'm visiting the Father Angel Site once again. Here we see two students taking the field school excavating a 1m X 2m unit with a 1m X 1m unit attached to it. Archaeologists love squares, their are like a small window into the past. The larger the square, the larger the window!

In this video are Shari Bechtel from California University of Pennsylvania, Marissa Miller also from Cal U, and Jamie Waldrop from West Virginia University. You will see them troweling and gathering the soil into a bucket. From there a person takes it to the "screener" where she will sift it through a mesh screen revealing the artifacts. The Father Angel Site is at a Phase II level of excavation depending on what they found there, it will probably go to a Phase III next year! Watch on and see the archaeologists at work! throughout the nation to conduct their field surveys.

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