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Sunday, August 09, 2015

Test Pits

Hannah, Rachel and Sami excavating Square 301 at South end of site

The Community Archaeology dig ended on Friday, but I still have a few posts left from the last week.  I'll post the last few over the next few days. So keep posted!

One of the main goals at the start of the summer was to examine the site as a whole and to see if the inhabitants utilized some parts of the site differently.  To accomplish this goal we opened up 2 new excavation blocks (block A & B), and dug 3 additional one-by-one meter test pits (squares 201, 301 & 401).  In this way, we pretty much got a look at the deposits across the whole site - from north to south and close to the terrace edge to far away (East to West).

It is always difficult to interpret what one finds in a test pit.  The hole is not big enough to find structure walls and follow layers to their edges.  It is almost impossible to understand the spatial 'context' of a layer in a small hole.  That is why we open up big excavation blocks - we can see and spatially understand entire features like smoke-processing pits or houses.  But tests pits are useful for getting an understanding of site stratigraphy, and they do pinpoint areas of interest to expand upon.

One immediate discovery was that the highest part of the site to the South where we put block B was used intensively for smoke processing.  This is where we found all the 'line-weights' and the pitch black soil full of fire-cracked rock.  We did find some processing pits in the main excavation, but none of the line-weights, and nothing anywhere near as intense as what we found in Block B.  The main excavation is characterized more by 'tossed sods' and thin living surfaces.

In Block A we found that all the older deposits where missing below our 4-5 thousand year-old layer designated L2A. This turned out to be a common theme in the other test pits as well.  L2A, a homogenous layer full of pebbles and flecks of charcoal, turned out to extend everywhere across the site.  But below L2A we found from our test pits that some areas of the site had been quarried for sods. It seems that these sods where brought and deposited near the front of the site (front of terrace) at Blocks A and B.

And then finally in our last test pit (square 401) we found another area of the site with significant deposits below L2A - a place where the inhabitants brought sods rather than quarried them for elsewhere.  And best of all, in the test pit we found a substantial living surface of hard packed, charcoal stained gravel, around a possible hearth that appears to be capped by a layer of mottled and mixed roof sods.  This looks like it might have been a substantial structure capped with a sod roof, and it will be a focus of next year's excavation.

Hopefully, what we found in square 401 will turn out to be the remains of a sod capped structure.  But we will need a bigger hole to find out.  Here's to next year and what will be Block C!


Profiling the wall
Some of the test pits got pretty deep!

Alexandria, Kate and Jeannine excavating square 401

Paydirt!  It looks like this one hit a structure with roof sods - the 'floor' is represented by the black lenses while the mixed and mottled layer above with blebs of till in it might be roof sods

Proud test pitters

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