Thursday, July 14, 2016

First Day of Wet Screening!

Hello, my name is Drew Sanford, and I’m a senior undergraduate student of Western Michigan University with a double major in Anthropology and Marketing! With this degree, I plan to become a cultural researcher to help market certain products to previously untouched markets. This is my first year in the field and I am excited for the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of archaeology. I am passionate about learning and I hope that everyone can learn something from what we discover
at Fort St. Joseph this year!
We are careful to keep a right angle with the unit as we trowel (Photo Credit: Genna Perry)
                Paul Bonenfant, whom you all heard from in an earlier post, is my pit partner; he and I are digging a one by one meter excavation unit the furthest northwest on the site. Our interest in this particular unit comes from a previous excavation in 2011, which revealed a fireplace adjacent to our unit. Our hope is that we will see the rest of this fireplace and artifacts that are telling of the Fort St. Joseph lifestyle! If we find nothing, then that will also tell us that no noticeable feature was present in that particular area, which will also matter for future excavations.
                Today we started wet screening for the first time this season! The process involves placing skimmed dirt from the unit into a bucket and taking it to a screening station that is set up on a tetrapod. Two 1/8th inch screens are suspended from these tetrapods which will catch most artifacts. We are careful not to mix up artifacts with other units by only using one specific station for our unit and marking it with our excavation unit’s location. When the dirt is dumped in, the hose comes out, and we systematically spray and look through for artifacts, including ones that might even fall through this fine mesh. Seed beads, for example, are common at the site and could easily slip through if the person screening is not careful! Water is carefully gauged and kept from making contact with the river, while any non-artifact debris is disposed of safely.

The team starts the first day of wet screening (Photo Credit: Genna Perry)
                We just started wet screening at the end of the day, and the results are already promising. We found multiple pieces of calcined bone (animal bone that was previously burned) in our pit, as well as a seed bead. That is the same one that can easily slip through our finest mesh due to its size! We found it relatively close to the surface as well, which means we can only find more onward! I look forward to saying more when I see it. Nonetheless, I am excited to learn more from the site!

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