tiistai 22. toukokuuta 2007

Day 12: The Last Day Rule

We had originally intended to finish all of our excavating today, allowing us to spend the rest of the week drawing the profile of the trench, cleaning, and tying up any loose ends. However, there is apparently a concrete rule in archaeology that states that you will always find the most interesting artifacts just as you are finishing your dig. While the rule always guarantees that we get some good results, it is frustrating if you're in a bit of a rush. Over the course of the day we managed to uncover two entirely new and exciting finds, as well as make some serious progress in our previously unearthed features: the clay feature has been entirely removed (it contains some very large pieces of black comb-ware pottery, which is excellent), and the lowest (so far) layer of charcoal has been taken out of the Thing. And, on top of all that, we seem to have found yet another fireplace, this time in the main trench. So, lots to do, lots to do.

The first big find, three little pieces of clay, came from the western extension of our main trench. While that doesn't sound like a lot, the pieces themselves are very unusual; unlike the clay material we've found so far, which have all been pottery fragments, these pieces don't seem to belong to any known form of pottery that we would expect to find in the area. At the moment, our best guess is that they are part of a figurine - an assumption that may seem at first to be a bit of a stretch, but is the strongest working hypothesis we have so far. Figurines have been found in the region before, even by the Field School in previous years, and we're hard pressed to think of any documented ceramic find that looks anything like these things do. As well, the archaeological definition of art is much looser than in most other fields: in the case of prehistory, anything formed by anyone that has a aesthetic, rather than practical, function is art. A figurine, then, could even be a piece of loose clay molded into a rough shape and fired.

The possible figurine fragments. The rounded, almost spherical shape is what suggests that these are quite different from our regular pottery finds; no neolithic pottery that we know of in Finland has round bumps or protrusions. As usual, only careful assessment and interpretation will make sense of this.

The second big find of the day also came from the western trench, and it appears to be a large part of a tiny undecorated clay vessel. This is the first time a pot of this size has been found by the Field School, and on top of the novelty of the discovery, the pottery fragment has a visible fingerprint on it from whoever made it. This is probably a result of how it was made: unlike the bigger comb-ware vessels, this pot was small enough that the sides could have been formed by pinching them between the maker's fingers.

The tiny-pot fragment: without a scale, you can't get a good sense of the size of the piece, but it significantly smaller and more curved than anything else we've found; hopefully we'll get a chance to estimate its overall size. You can't see the fingerprint in this picture, but we'll try and post a shot of that later.

This has definitely been one of our busiest days so far, as well as one of our most surprising. As usual, we have lots more information than we have time to process and inspect, so we'll try to keep the site updated as we make more sense of these new finds.

That's all for now,
The Field School

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