Archaeology Can You Dig It (2)

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Comic Sans MS:

Archaeology 2005 By Anne Hagel


What is archaeology? The scientific study of the physical evidence of past human societies recovered through the excavation. Archaeologists not only attempt to discover and describe past cultures, but to explain the development of these cultures.


How is a site chosen? Our site was chosen based on: A. artifacts already found on the surface B. history of the area (from sources or even land owner)

Default Design:

What is a unit? A unit is a square in which an archaeologist has chosen to dig or search for artifacts.

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Setting up a unit Your unit will be a “2x2.” You start with two sides that need to measure 200 cm. Using the Pythagorean Theorem, you will find the hypotenuse to be 283 cm., your measurement from corner to corner across the middle. Using this method you can be sure all sides of the unit will be 200 cm

What is archaeology?:

Once you have these measurements, you will have a perfect square for your unit… IF you measure it correctly. Then the REAL fun begins…

How is a site chosen? :

Tools of the trade… There are several tools you can use when looking for artifacts. Some of them are… a spade, a shovel, a trowel, a measuring tape, a bamboo pick, a pencil, a file, a paint brush and clippers.

What is a unit? :

AND don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray!!!!

Setting up a unit :

First using shovels and spades, you need to remove the plow zone, which reaches about 25 cm below the surface. Keep your eyes peeled for artifacts such as flakes that can be found in the plow zone! Removing the Plow Zone


Once the plow zone is removed, you may find changes in the soil color. These are called stains. Once a stain is found, you can be sure you have discovered a feature within the unit and then you can get down and DIRTY!!!!!!!!! There is a chance you will find artifacts below this…

Tools of the trade…:

Working at a dig site… To begin excavating your feature you will need to CAREFULLY remove the soil 5 cm. at a time. Each 5 cm of soil is called a level.

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During this process you can see the best side of a lot of people  Not again…

Removing the Plow Zone:

Smile 

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The MATRIX !!! Before you begin troweling away each 5 cm level, you need to take a matrix or sampling of soil. This is done using your trowel to “chunk” the soil out of the level.

Working at a dig site…:

This matrix is taken back to MVAC where it is dried and then rinsed through screens for items like small bones or flakes or charcoal. This can help give more information about the site and the people who once occupied it.

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Any soil you remove from a feature is screened. That way any artifacts too small to be seen or mixed in with the soil you excavate don’t get away!!!

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When you think you have found something, yell loudly, “I found something!” and someone will come to either confirm your find or tell you it’s just dirt and crush it between their fingers…

The MATRIX!!!:

Certain artifacts will need to be left “in situ” as they may continue into the next level. Some you may need to pedestal or leave dirt underneath it and then map it. Then you will need to use your handy bamboo pick and paintbrush to remove the dirt. Even though you may be tempted to just “yank that puppy out of there” – DON’T DO IT !!!!!!!!!! Removal of an artifact needs to be done very carefully!!!!!!

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Finding artifacts After you remove an artifact, you need to put it into a correctly labeled plastic bag. The artifacts will be taken back to MVAC to be washed and cataloged.

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After you have removed a level or 5 cm of soil from the feature, you need to map what you have found whether it is the stain in the soil or artifacts in that level. One or two people measure and someone records these measurements on grid paper.

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After mapping the feature, you then need to photograph it for permanent record of what feature looks like. You use a photo board with the site number, feature number, and other important information plus an arrow pointing to true north.

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Then you can start the whole process all over again… Until you reach sterile soil… or China…

Finding artifacts :

Many interesting artifacts have been found at dig sites. It is very exciting to be a part of an archaeology dig  BONE!!!!

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Can you dig it?

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Note: This PowerPoint presentation was created by a teacher participating in an ESEA Title II grant-funded project for use in the teachers' classrooms. It reflects the individual’s experience at a particular site and is not intended to accurately reflect what happens on all archaeological investigations around the country or world. The teacher participated in professional development activities provided by: Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center University of Wisconsin - La Crosse 1725 State Street La Crosse, WI 54601 Web site: All material Copyright © 2000-2005 Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

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