Monday, 22 June, 2009
It is a generally accepted rule in archaeology that you are bound to make the most surprising discoveries in the last days of fieldwork, if not on the last day itself. So here we are, not more than ten days from wrapping up, and – BOOM – we’re hit with all kinds of jolts. I shouldn’t be surprised I suppose, given all the times this truism has held, but sometimes, no matter how steady you think you are…
On Thursday past we began to see a large “anomaly” in the soil northward of the main area we’re finding evidence of the Casa Grande. The swirly, busy character of the deposit was familiar. It happened to be the kind of soil that fills a very large and somewhat mysterious ditch feature running parallel to the east side of the structure. I recognized that particular ditch in 2007, struggled to explain it ever since, so fully intended to give it attention this season – but no time so far. Then this – an apparent companion ditch running parallel to the north side of our building!
Hmmmm. Could it be? Is the Casa Grande bounded on all sides by a large ditch, sort of in moat-like fashion? I decided to put that notion to the test today. Having now recognized that the other two ditches measure almost exactly seven meters from the central hearth of the structure, I decided to excavate a test at the same distance to the west. And, yessiree, it looks like we have a ditch on the west side, too. Will we explore the south side and close the circle? Just give us a few more days.
And once again, I don’t know what it is about visitors, but the site coughs up unusual things when they’re around. Today two old friends were with us to volunteer and lo and behold we found the first glass bead in weeks. Not only that, it is a kind of bead that we’ve not seen on the site before, a very small, opaque, white one. When Andrew Vaughan opened up his balled fist, in front of a great big grin, I was disbelieving. This is not the kind of bead one would readily predict on a site of early Spanish contact but they’re not unheard of in such a context either. So here we are once more challenging the conventional wisdom about how things “ought to be” on a de Soto-era site.
Finally, I’ll neglect no longer the question that seems to be put to us most often these days: aren’t you hot out there (when the thermometer is hovering around 100)? Why, yes. It is hotter that two love bugs snagged in the grill of a log truck. And no matter what you do, you can’t be comfortable. All in all, you learn that human beings CAN function under mighty tough conditions and can do so at a pretty high level of performance. It’s all about mind over matter, paying no attention whatsoever to the forecast – especially the so-called “heat index”, drinking a heckuva lot of water, taking an occasional plunge in the river, and remembering that there is a cooler of ice cold reward at the end of the day. Cheers!