Monday, June 26, 2006

Monday Memories: Dig It!

In college, I had enough credits in two of my favorite pastimes to take minors in them: Theater and Anthropology. The Theater credits came from doing at least 2 plays every quarter, taking "Theater Lab" virtually every quarter, and from countless hours spent building sets, and clerking for the director. The Anthro credits came from Archaeological Field Work.

The Field Work was a summer-long dig. My college had long been associated with a dig on the site of a former Civil-War era plantation, and had spent several summers past working the site. The year that I took part, we were working in the area where the slave cabins had been. We learned how to dig a pit, learned all of the different tools excavators use, learned stratigraphy, and got thoroughly caught up in all the wonders of unearthing the past.

It was hot work, and hard -- first shoveling through the hard layers of oyster shell, and then painstakingly scraping off an inch of dirt at a time to find the treasures that awaited us beneath. We took turns digging and sifting, and each team had to take a turn with the surveying equipment as well. We spent hours brushing off artifacts in situ with paintbrushes. We minutely examined bone, metal, pottery, and everything in between. We would all scramble up out of our pits at the end of the day, dirty and bone-tired, but it was all worth it. We found a lot of wonderful artifacts, and I gained a new appreciation for all the hard work that archaeologists do that isn't glamorized by Hollywood movies. It's not Indiana Jones, but it wasn't without its moments of great discovery as well. It was the best summer of my college years. It was, by far, the class I enjoyed most out of my whole college career.

I would love to work on another dig someday -- there's something so satisfying about discovering a link to the past.

1 comment:

Anne Glamore said...

That does sound interesting, as long as it wasn't too hot. I'm not very heat tolerant today!