One Last Scrape

Laura and James clean up the units that we were scraping on Thursday.

Earlier this week I found out that the folks at Ferry Farm were still in the process of wrapping up the site for the season and could use some help.  I eagerly volunteered and headed up bright and early on Thursday morning for one more day in the field!  When I arrived, James explained that they needed to give the whole northern half of the excavation area a fresh scrape so that they could photograph it and officially close it up.  Each person was given a row of units to complete, so I quickly grabbed my trowel, bucket, and dustpan and got to work on mine.  I carefully scraped off the dark, hardened layer of soil at the top of my units to reveal the soft red earth underneath, and kept an eye out for any soil discolorations or artifacts in the process.

Pipe stem with crown design.

I had to work around a couple of utility trenches and the shell midden that I helped excavate last week, but I did not have any major problems and managed to get through my row of units very quickly.  I didn’t find many artifacts in the soil I gathered, but there were a few small bits of ceramic, a nail, and some shell.  The only really interesting find of the day was a pipe stem with a lovely crown design engraved on it, which was discovered by Amanda, one of the interns.

The whole northern half of our excavation from above.

After everyone was finished scraping and everything was cleaned up, I helped James set up a ladder at the south end of the region so that Laura could climb up and take a photograph from above.  Once we had it set up, he climbed to the top to make sure that the positioning was right, and when he looked down he saw some soil stains that indicate a feature of some kind in the northwest corner.  He asked if I would like to go up next and take some pictures, which I very excitedly did!  It was incredible to see our entire excavation from above, and I was even able to spot the stains that James had seen.  Shortly after I took my pictures, Laura came to take the final photograph and we were officially done with that part of the excavation.

Once the scraping and photographing was done, Laura asked me if I could help Katie and Anna scrape and map the last three units in this year’s excavation.  I was happy to help, and Katie and I got straight to work scraping the first of the units.  This one was far more difficult to get through than the ones we had done earlier, as the soil was very hard, dried out clay that did not come up well with our trowels.  After struggling with it for a while, we finally wet the ground a bit to soften the soil, which made it a little easier to work with and allowed us to finish scraping.

The map of this year’s excavation at Ferry Farm.

Next, we needed to take measurements and draw the unit on the map that they had been working on for over a week.  They unrolled it to show me what they had done so far, and I was absolutely amazed.  Every rock, root, and soil anomaly from nearly every unit we excavated this summer was there, and I was extremely impressed.  Katie asked me if I would rather draw our unit or take the measurements from it, and I elected to draw.  Anna helped me get set up and guided me through the process, as Katie laid out the rulers and began giving me measurements.  The numbers she gave me represented the exact location of the rocks in our unit, which I had to then copy onto the map.  It didn’t take long, but by the time we were finished the day was over.

Our first unit, and the last to be finished.

I took a few pictures of the site and looked at the last two units that were going to be scraped and mapped on Friday in order to completely close the site, and I realized that the last unit that would be done was the first unit that Victoria, Jason, Allison, and I opened on our first day of field school.  I found a strange sense of closure in that, and after taking one more picture, I packed up my things and headed home.

Thursday was a spectacular day in the field, and I’m so glad that I got to dig one more time before the end of the excavation!  I am going to miss everyone there, and I’ll certainly miss the work, but I’m sure I won’t be staying away from Ferry Farm for very long, and I can’t wait until next time!

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