#108 10 Days of Archaeology: Day 3

(To anyone that this applies too: this blog is in no way tied to the company I work for.  My real name and the company name appear no where. All the opinions expressed in  this blog are my own and not anyone else's.  Also, I try really hard not to divulge any information regarding clients and project specific details.  The things I discuss could be taking place anywhere in the Great Basin and are not specific.  My goal is to simply bring the joy of archaeology, and the bad times in archaeology, to anyone that cares to read it.  Disclaimer over.  Onto the blog…)

Well, today started with a game plan that involved my crew basically site recording all day.  This means an easy day with all archaeology all the time.  I like these sorts of days.

Iodine bottle with a solid core glass drip.We arrived at the first site, a road, by 7:30 am.  Here, I have a question for my readers.  I’ve recorded roads in different ways over the years.  With some companies we’ve surveyed the road independently of the rest of the project area and recorded everything within 15 m of the center line as part of the general site inventory or, in the case of trash dumps, as a locus or feature.  With other companies, the road was simply recorded as a line and all artifacts were treated separately as individual sites or isolated artifacts.  Out here in Nevada the way you record a road largely depends on the whims of the BLM district you are working in.  Sometimes it depends on a specific project area and how they want that area recorded.  What do you think?  How to you record roads?  Keep in mind, when I talk about roads I mean everything from a two-track to a haul road to a paved highway.  Let me know in the comments.

On one of the sites we recorded today there were a lot of fun bottles.  I never used to like historics because the “weren’t old enough”.  I’ve since learned how fun they can be.  I think what I like is that I can look at a bottle base and know, almost to the year in some cases, how old that bottle is.  Not only do I know how old it is, but, if I have enough of it, I can know how it was made and what it was used for.  Try getting that level of detail out of a projectile point.  Points are still cool, don’t get me wrong.  Nothing will ever be more cool than picking an 8,000 year old point off the ground on survey.

There was a little drama on the aforementioned site this afternoon.  The crew member that was in charge of doing the GPS work on a Trimble unit had some fun.  We use sub-meter Trimble GPS units to record sites (as most good companies out here do).  They run from $5,000 to $7,000, depending on your options.  Well, as we were recording today, I heard a weird sounding yell from my right.  I looked up the drainage to see the tail end of a fall from my GPS guy.  It looked like it didn’t feel so good so I asked if he was OK.  He said he was.  That’s when we both saw the Trimble laying face-down on the rocks he’d slipped on.  As he picked up the unit I could see his jaw drop and the blood drain from his face.  Now, this guy likes to play jokes on people quite often so I asked if it was cracked.  He said yes as he shook his head.  I didn’t believe it until I saw the unit for myself.  Sure enough, it was cracked in several places on the screen.

Now most modern displays like this have an outer glass and then the inner display.  If the glass is cracked you can often still read the display.  Some of you may only have to look at your cell phone to know what I’m talking about.  This unit has that configuration but it was cracked all the way through. We could only make out some symbols on the right margin of the screen.

As the initial shock of breaking the unit waned we then became concerned as to whether the data we’d collected thus far was still there.  We had no idea how damaged the unit was internally.  I still don’t know.  Tomorrow I’ll find out whether the unit was able to be downloaded or not.

Now, you might stress out and be concerned for your job if you were to break a unit that is that expensive.  Remember, though, that a good crew chief or supervisor will be more concerned with your well being than with the unit.  Units are replaceable but the training we put into you is not.  Your safety and welfare is paramount.  As it turns out, we have insurance on the Trimbles and it will be fixed or replaced before too long.

The day ended with the crew mingling at a local bar and casino for drinks.  Overall it was a rather light day with some good archaeology.

Podcasting from a quiet hotel room on the western frontier, or, next to a major interstate highway.I spent the evening, after we got back from the bar at around 7 pm, recording and editing segments for my podcast, The CRM News Weekly, Episode 17.  It’s nearly done.  I just have to complete the show notes but it’s difficult to do when the internet keeps going down.  Guess I’ll have to get up at 5 am again.  Keeping up with this blog and with the podcast is difficult while I’m in the field.  Usually I don’t want to do much of anything.  The desire to bring news items and my blog to you and whomever else is still strong in me, though, so I keep doing it.

That’s it for Day 3.  Come back tomorrow for Day 4.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field.