By Annamarie Leon Guerrero
Photos, left to right, top to bottom: Student Ryan taking down the last column sample on the last day of fieldwork; The trouble with buckets never end – students Ryan and Tessa un-sticking buckets; Goodbye site; Field school students Matt and Angel helping fellow student Emily as she takes elevations in a deep unit; Field school student Lauren; Field school student Kelsey working hard in a unit; Field school student Christina with a great new find; Field School Instructor Dusty, students Matt, Angel and Kolin (from left to right) backfilling Unit 1.
The last day of field school, or any fieldwork for that matter, is always a little hectic and often filled with mixed emotions. There is always a sense of urgency as you try to tie up loose ends, finish up sidewall profiles, take down column samples, make sure the data (boxes of soil, bags of artifacts, etc.) are under control, and attempt to remember everything that needs to be packed up. In the middle of all of this, there is this tug of war between being excited to go home and a little sad that the fieldwork is over.
And today is no different. Yesterday (Thursday) four of the six control units hit basement meaning sidewall profiles could be drawn, column samples taken and the units could be photographed and backfilled. If you have never backfilled a unit before, it is most definitely one of the most satisfying things in life. Especially if you are one of the ones who helped dig the hole.
Only the three groups that still had on-site tasks to complete headed out to the site today along with the crew chiefs. The rest of the crew was tasked with breaking down camp and organizing everything to expedite our departure. Unit 1 only needed to be photographed and then backfilled. The group working with Unit 5 (John, Kelsey, Christina and Emily) only had a few levels left in their column sample to go. Kelsey and Christina had done a great job in taking the column sample down yesterday and had no trouble in taking the rest of it down today. Once they were done, they were able to backfill the unit and head back to camp.
The Unit 3 group (Ryan, Lindsay, Melissa and Tessa) had taken their control unit all the way down to 180 cm before hitting bedrock yesterday. They were definitely under a little bit of pressure to get an entire column sample (a 20 cm x 20 cm column in 10 cm levels) done by noon. However, Ryan, in all of his stoicism, was definitely up to the challenge. He had at least half of the levels done before 10:30am. Lindsay and Melissa took turns taking down the rest of the column. One of the better moments of the morning was when Dusty and Tim helped to airlift Melissa out of the 180 cm deep unit. Getting in and out of units that deep is definitely a challenge. After the final photographs of Unit 3 were taken, the crew (plus a crew chief) backfilled the last open unit. Each of us took turns compacting the backfill dirt into the unit (who can resist the urge to basically jump up and down or dance a jig on a big dirt pile?).
I have to admit that I was a little worried about completing all six control units as they were opened just last week. But, with all of the students hard work, determination, thoughtfulness and their increasing ability to dig faster and cleaner we were able to able to accomplish this awesome feat. The past four weeks have pretty much been amazing. It has been a privilege to be a part of this field school and to be able to see everyone’s enthusiasm for archaeology and to watch as ever single person became more skilled and knowledgeable in field methods and technique. And, I have to say, that it was not just the students who were learning, I definitely learned something from every single person who either attended or helped out with the field school. I hope that, and am pretty sure that everyone will be able to, look back at the last four weeks and see the progress that they made and will leave the field school newfound knowledge and skill as well as new friends and colleagues.
As we gathered up the last bit of gear around the site, we all took one last look around at the place that had basically been our “office” for the last four weeks and said our final goodbye to the site and one last big “Thank You” for everything it had given us.