After our failed attempt to finish up all the digging on Tuesday, it took us until today to get all of our finds out of the trench. That meant that as we excavated one end of the trench (the east end, where the big clay feature continued much, much further than we expected), we were mapping the other end and filling it back up with the sand we've accumulated over the last three weeks. Of course, that got a little complicated, as the sand gradually encroached upon those still digging. In the end, we managed to completely fill the trench back up again and get all our finds out, although we did have to take all the ceramics left in the sand out in one big chunk and bring them back to lab. As always with archaeology, we found ourselves trapped between trying to do as thorough a job as possible and getting the dig done on time. The mapping process is fairly slow, and while it isn't stressful or difficult, it does require that we have about a day to record all the changes and peculiarities in the stratigraphy of our trench. Hopefully, the maps we make will tell us how much the area had been altered by humans, and how much of it was deposited or moved around by any number of natural forms of disturbance. Like everything, we'll need some lab time to work it all out, and we'll try to post our thoughts or insights on what we find.
As for the Thing, we finally reached the bottom of the last layer of charcoal, which is great, and that means that tomorrow we will take some time to map its profile and then fill it up again. It's a very strange sensation refilling a trench that you've excavated: after all the work you've done, all you want to do is make it look like you were never there. We dig out a mountain of sand, take a couple of kilograms of stuff from it, then put it all back in and roll the vegetation and organic matter back on top. However, we found a very exciting couple of kilograms, and over the next week or so (excluding tomorrow), we'll spend some time in the lab looking over them, preparing charcoal samples to be dated, and thinking about how the artifacts we've gathered change the way we think about Neolithic Finland. What can we infer from what we've found? What have we found that contradicts or reinforces what we already assumed? How does the Thing factor into all this? Of course, many of these questions hinge on some sort of date range to work with, but the ultimate goal of the field school, to paint an accurate picture of life in the Iijoki region a very long time ago, is all about trying to tackle these difficult problems, and doing so with only a small amount of information.
In any event, tomorrow will likely be uneventful, so unless something unexpected happens, we'll just do an update in the next few days with some pictures of the week and a description of the kinds of things we've been putting together and picking apart in the lab.
That's all for now,
The Field School