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Archaeological Survey

Thursday: May 9, 2013

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I have begun contacting people for a county-wide archaeological survey. The first step is to meet with people in public positions that would be willing to write letters of support in order to obtain a grant to fund the project. Tomorrow, we will meet with the county historian and one of the council members. Between meetings, I have also scheduled with a few landowners to give Dr. M an idea of the type of land forms we have down there. They mostly include friends and family, but there is also a 200 acre plot that I am excited to see because the owners know a little about its past.

I will leave you with a photo from the skyline of one of the areas we hope to investigate. I chose this photo for its perspective, because in others without something in the foreground, it is really hard to appreciate.

Boy and I after my friends' wedding, early 2000s.

Boy and I after my friends’ wedding, early 2000s.

That’s all I really have to add today. I am working on my thesis to get it finished before the required field school in Kentucky. It is at a village, which according to my prof, “is a gem. It is one of the most significant Fort Ancient sites in Kentucky and continues to provide a wealth of data pertaining to Fort Ancient peoples. It is an honor and a privilege to be permitted access to this amazing site!” I am excited! It is part of Matt’s dissertation research, and I met him last year at Sapelo. He works with ground penetrating radar (GPR), so we will be excavating some anomalies that have showed up in his previous studies. Although the village has a fairly large cemetery uncovered in earlier projects, that is not our focus – we are interested in the layout of the village itself.

I will have a week off after that, then I will hopefully go to Sapelo Island again. Right now, the only things that will stop me is if my thesis doesn’t get completed before mid-June, or if I am burnt out from Kentucky. If the latter is the case, I am not a very good archaeologist!

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Geophysics at Lew Wallace

Wednesday: November 2, 2011

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I was able to attend another digging weekend at Lew Wallace (bonus – it doubled as extra-credit!). This time, Dr. M worked with a team from IPFW (Dr. McCullough and Colin Graham) to collect geophysical data. I mostly sifted dirt with undergrad Kylie or helped clean up the trench with archaeologist Anne M in preparation for next season. Anna, another grad student, worked with Dr. M taking measurements with a total station. The other undergrads worked with the IPFW team for most of the day.

Archaeology at Lew Wallace

The epic study of Lew Wallace. Note the colored flags - they were used to delineate survey areas.

Archaeology at Lew Wallace

Dirt sifted through a screen. Ooooo.

Archaeology at Lew Wallace

Anne and I in the "reflecting pool" that is unexpectedly deep.

Later, Kylie and I helped Colin take magnetometry readings by creating the path for him to walk along. First, he calibrated the machine above the earth’s surface for a base measurement to be used as a comparison. Then he walked the path as we moved it across the area to be scanned, taking overlapping parallel recordings. Once that was finished, he imported the data to a computer and checked out the preliminary results which I got to see. I tell you, it is much cooler seeing geophysics in action than reading long and dense articles on the subject!

Archaeology at Lew Wallace

Colin calibrating the magnetometer.

Archaeology at Lew Wallace

Kylie and I setting the path for Colin's next recording. (The excavation unit is seen next to me.)

I was also lucky enough to check out their ground penetrating radar device. It was not at all what I expected – kind of like a stroller with a monitor on it that gives you instant feedback. The feedback takes a little skill for interpretation but Dr. McCullough was super friendly and showed me how to read it.

Archaeology at Lew Wallace

Archaeologists at work - excavating and total station.

Archaeology at Lew Wallace

Anna holds the stadia rod with the prism on top so that Dr. M in the background can take the measurements with the total station.

Archaeology at Lew Wallace

This is what a total station looks like. You may have seen it along a highway during road construction.

Dr. McCullough also brought out the resistivity machine to show me, which was not used due to all the trees. Unfortunately, moisture in the ground will interfere with the resistivity technique and Lew Wallace’s property had many beautiful old trees that ultimately would hold water at their roots.

I’d like to go into more detail about what each technique does, but I must take the small bits of time I have to post when I receive them. If you would like to learn more, check out the articles in my Library (particulary Kvamme’s Archaeogeophysics article) or do a quick web search – there is a lot of information out there to be had.

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