By Angel Ritchie
Photo: Student Angel Ritchie hard at work screening at a STU.
This morning my alarm went off too early. Tuesday. In the field, too early means six o’clock and late to breakfast is 6:40. We work hard in the sun all day and often tell stories into the night, but I always feel like I wake up too late. The breakfast scene varies. Perhaps someone is taking time by themselves eating a bagel watching the sun rise. Others are already laughing away. Some read our weekly articles. This morning I felt lucky to get a full cup of coffee from our sixteen-cup-percolator. As breakfast finishes, the sunblocking begins. I fill my three water bottles in between cramming as much sunblock onto my skin as possible. I burn easily and my shovel test unit (STU) is in the sun. Then we have a morning chat before trekking out to the site, a thirty minute drive. Today we are finishing up the STUs that we began either on Monday or last week. Tomorrow, Wednesday, we will start some control units. I am, and many others are, excited to dig bigger holes, ones that we can more easily move around in.
Then we gather into our vans and drive to the field. We constantly search the radio for a station that comes in and this morning my van was lucky enough to hear a few songs sung by the lovely Brittany Spears. When we arrived to the site, we grab the gear. At this point, it’s a mad rush. Everyone has their favorite tools. My crew arrived at our STU, 70S/20E and as we removed the cover, we found three dead mice, three large spiders, a frog in our 60 centimeter hole. The next hour was spent by our crew hypothesizing the faunal murder scene. Then Candace and I read aloud an article on women’s work and acorn processing while we waited the last thirty minutes for the awesome monitors, Daniel and Paul, to arrive so that we could begin digging.
Around nine, they do arrive and the work begins. We start digging our third level in the STU. I screen. We found lovely artifacts. A nice chert flake at least two inches long and some possible groundstone. In our next level the ground got hard and more clay-like. Our finds grew smaller, but we did find a very nice possible core. Not to mention the day before, we found an obsidian flake in the second layer. Very exciting! It does make the digging easier when you find artifacts. We picked our way through the fourth level. At one point, I heard one of the screeners say, “I am finding a flake every screen,” a very nice thing to hear when the sweat is dripping down your entire body.
I always get a little delirious before lunch, making jokes with my crew and getting clumsy with my tools. My peanut butter and honey sandwich felt very nourishing. We ate lunch underneath the same oak tree we do most days at the sight. It is a large umbrella and one can’t help but under how it was used by past groups. From far away, you can’t even see the twenty-five people eating lunch under there. After lunch, the sun shone brighter and the sweat rolled harder. It’s getting hotter progressively throughout the weeks. Our last level, the fifth, was sterile…enough. There was no evidence of further cultural material would be below this level. We drew our profile drawing and tomorrow morning we will backfill our STU, which is amazingly and surprisingly satisfying.