Before I worked on this project, I had no understanding of how much physical yakka (that’s Australian slang for ‘work’) there was in archaeology. First there was the site clearing so that the geophysical team could do their survey. Then there was laying out of the 217 grids with tape around each 20 metre square, then the total collection survey, then the transect survey.
We have now started excavating two trenches: test trench 1 on Thursday 15 November 2012 and test trench 2 yesterday, Friday 16 November 2012.
I was surprised to find out what the work entailed: removing stones and soil (lifting and carrying away), trowelling and brushing dirt away. We did this for hours and there is much more still to do.
Our two test trenches are quite different in nature.
Test trench 1, with Kristen Mann as Supervisor, is above and to the west of a visible wall.
We believe from looking at the different layers of stones in the wall, that there is an ancient building below it. It is also possible that the lower levels of this wall are ancient – we won’t know until we excavate the layers to the bottom of the wall.
So the rocks, soil, leaf litter and extensive plant roots have to be removed, layer by layer. Each layer has then to be cleaned with trowels and brushes, and then documented with text and photography, until we remove each layer of the wall and soil down to the level of what we hope will be the ancient construction. At the end of yesterday, we had been able to remove only the top layer.
Test trench 2, with Ivana Vetta as Supervisor, has far less rock to be excavated as it is located in an open area. But there is still a great deal of soil and plant roots to be removed.
Until now, very little information has been obtained about the use of open areas during the Zagora settlement period. This is why we particularly want to investigate this area. We are hoping to discover more about how such open areas (possibly courtyards or public spaces) were used in ancient times.
We spent all day on site, from about 8am to about 3.30pm (with the walk down to, and back up from, the site, before 8am and after 3.30pm). And in that time we lifted and hauled stones and soil, and cleared rocks with trowels, hands (wearing heavy duty gardening or work gloves) and brushes.
Because we cannot be certain where the Zagora settlement layer of the excavation will begin, we have to document each level we go down as we try to get to what we hope will be an ancient building structure.
So when we clear a level of rocks and soil that brings us to a layer that appears to be different (may be different looking rocks, different soil structure, etc), we must stop excavating deeper, and clean up that level as much as we can, so that photographs can be taken of it, in case there is information to be gleaned from it.
This is hard physical work, with soil and rocks needing to be taken away by zembilis (the sturdy two-handled black baskets seen in photos above and below) or in a wheelbarrow. There are also many remaining roots of the holm oak that was removed that have to be hacked away in order to reach the rocks, soil and leaf litter that has to be removed.
Here are some more photos to show the work we did yesterday. I spent more time at test trench 1, so my captions are more detailed for the work done there. I plan to spend a bit more time with the test trench 2 team in coming days and can then tell you a bit more about the work they are doing there.
…. We’ve just found out that rain is forecast for next week. This should make life interesting….