What I have learned (so far) from interning at Lost Towns:
- Don’t step on the edge of the unit.
- If there is a cool artifact lurking an inch under the surface, [field director] Shawn’s spidey sense will alert him, and he’ll magically take over in a “teaching moment” and be the one to find it.
- Mapping is a laborious process, but a year later when you’re trying to sort out the paperwork, it is a lifesaver.
- Did I mention not to step on the edge of the unit?
- The thrill the first time you discover something in the water screen, the dry screen, or the dirt you’re troweling through cannot be described. It’s amazing.
- The kinds of people who sort their M&M’s by color before eating them would love doing lab time, sorting and rebagging the artifacts.
- Fieldwork creates some of the most interesting tan lines.
- Seriously. Don’t step on the edge of the unit.
This has been one of the greatest experiences of my archaeology-student career. Having spent many, many hours in labs doing sorting, labeling, cataloging, data entry, and analyzing, I was starting to get pretty bored with the whole lab-only aspect. However, interning at Lost Towns has been my first field-work experience and I was astonished at how much I have fallen completely in love with it from the very first day! Every artifact discovered has been a visceral thrill, and every mistake made (and I have made plenty) has been a learning experience.
I can’t say that I have a favorite moment. What I do have, however, is a favorite artifact: the first one that I ever touched. It was my first day on the dig at Pig Point, and I was waterscreening. Whilst pounding gallons of water through thick black dirt, I came upon an incised potsherd. It was absolutely beautiful. Incised with lines and dots, I was astonished at the pure beauty of this piece, despite being only a small portion of the pot. At that moment, pulling this bit of pottery out of the dirt in the screen, I knew I had found where I wanted to be….. reclaiming this knowledge, history, and humanity from the depths of the earth. I knew I had discovered the reason I had spent all those hours in classes. It was to bring the past back into the present and make it relevant.
I was told later that it was a portion of carved pipe. That fascinates me, to think of some prehistoric person smoking on this pipe, just as many people do today, and to ponder what they thought about, prayed for, yearned for while this pipe was smoked. What did they dream about? What did they smoke for; pleasure, or ceremony? The mind boggles at the million possibilities.
And that’s why I love it.
|Pepper's Carved Pipe Fragment from Pig Point|
|Pepper Hard at Work|