#3 Stop and Smell the Roses

On one of the beautifully brisk morning walks to the Convention Center in Sacramento for the SAAs my good friend Deanna D. (or maybe F. if DF gets his way) and I were looking for a coffee shop that I had stopped at the previous evening. The coffee shop is called Temple Coffee and Tea and is on 10th st. between J and K. When I first found the coffee shop I was walking south and saw the unique triangular facade, which was slightly angled towards me. When we were looking for the coffee shop the next morning we were walking the other direction. Since I'm not familiar with the streets of Sacramento I was a bit unsure as to where it was. When I thought I had the right street I turned down it but then stopped because I couldn't see the shop. It's facade was angled away from me.  We realized it was actually there and Deanna commented that it was all about perspective and that it, "makes you think about survey".  

I thought about that statement later and she is absolutely right.  Things always look different from even slightly different perspectives.  We have all experienced it.  On survey it can be difficult to see large land features until you get up on a high hill or rock outcrop and everything snaps into focus.  Just the other day I was recording a fairly large historic mining area that included a shaft, waste rock platform, lift house foundations, and a debris scatter.  Four of us were on that site for an entire day.  The next day, while I was looking at some diagnostic artifacts, my eyes adjusted to what I was seeing and a square platform snapped into view.  It was slightly cleared with a small berm of rocks around the edge. The area was completely overgrown with shadscale and greasewood but it was unmistakable once I saw it.

I started to look around and saw another cleared platform about 10 m away.  Overall we found about six new features just because we changed our perspective and took a second (third, fourth) look.  

(In case you are wondering, the two platforms I initially saw were likely tent platforms for short term occupation and the others turned out to be a carpentry area and other indeterminate functional areas.)

Nearly every archaeologist, especially CRM archaeologists, have done a linear survey at one time or another.  How often have you been with a crew chief that is concerned more with miles covered than what's on the ground?  I know I've been in that situation.  They want to walk fast and cover as much ground as possible.  Aside from getting your Master's degree and saying, "I'll never do that to my crew," there isn't a whole lot that you can do.  

So, I say, sometimes you just have to turn around.  Sometimes you have to change your perspective.  Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses.  You might just find something interesting.