Excavating and recording Main Trench West, squares 6-8 and 8-10 west; 32-34 south.
The dark band of sediment in the excavation profile is organic humus that was deposited after the abandonment of this part of the site around 2,000 years ago. This is a non-cultural layer. Overlying it are the disturbed cultural deposits from the excavation of the bunkhouse footings. Excavators are shown here digging in layers related to Period 5 (3,500 to 2,000 years ago).
Archaeological excavation is undertaken with great care, usually with hand trowels, brushes, and dust pans. As the site is 'deconstructed', the excavators' observations are recorded in notes, photographs, drawings, and maps: as much observational information as possible is gathered so that a detailed analysis can allow an interpretative reconstruction the site. All the excavators' records are archived and retained.
Cultural remains such as stone flakes, or fragments, bone, shell, and other culturally modified material encountered in situ by the excavators have their three-dimensional provenience recorded so that their original location can be plotted relative to other artifacts, features, and sediment layers. Excavated sediments are passed through fine meshed screens to recover small cultural remains.
Archaeological discovery is a patient process: every hour spent in the field will often lead to as much as 8 or 10 hours in the lab cataloguing and processing the material. Most cultural remains encountered in midden deposits such as these are no more than detritus -- broken and scattered refuse. But even the smallest, most apparantly insignificant cultural remnant can lead to great investigations and discoveries.