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Excavation Skills!
@ overseas - absolutely bang on
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
overseas Wrote:Well perhaps not so much. Understanding the basic building blocks of what a site is, is basic archaeological "theory" ( without moving into the realms of higher "theory"). Surprisingly however, I have met numerous early practitioners (undoubtedly was one) having difficulty fighting their way out of the maze of local matrices, to see that the "story" is perhaps not necessarily so complicated, and is dominated by a few really key relationships ( or not, depending on the site...). And part of the problem, is that they are not seeing the 'big picture": construction, occupation, re-construction,.....abandon, d?molition.....etc , - wood for trees. Practical exercises - off the top of head - would be, to provide a significant data set : have the students draw the matrix, attribute construction, occupation etc to the matrix, give the students the dating material, and get them to tell the diachronique story of the site.

Not forgetting to also produce a phased land-use diagram based on the data....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
I'm not sure how basic you want to go, but one thing that I found useful when at university was a class very early on in the course where the lecturer took us out of the classroom to look at the pavement outside. This had been dug up and patched repeatedly, so there was a pattern of intercutting repairs and layers visible. I found this very useful when trying to get my head around what was meant by a feature cutting the fill of another feature, and how this would be useful in trying to put the various repairs into some sort of relative sequence, as you could see that the trench capped with one shade of tarmac had been cut through another colour. Cost nothing, got everyone out in the fresh air for a few minutes, and was surprisingly effective.

If you've actually got them on site, I'd try to emphasise (with threats, if necessary) that you shouldn't leave half the context sheet blank, thinking that you'll go back and finish it off later. You almost certainly won't, and six months down the line, some poor mug will have to try to reconstruct a coherent matrix from a load of incomplete records.
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
The difference between 'description' and 'interpretation' on said context sheets!!
ANd before you tell them any of this. Tell them about the career path, wages, conditions and employment prospects of the rank and file archaeologist. Do NOT lie to them about what is out in the real world!
Marcus Brody Wrote:I remember a case from a couple of years ago where there was a 'tree bole' surrounded by a circle of post-holes. The team on site said that it was an entirely natural feature, and basically had to be told to dig it. Red faces all round when, after much moaning about how it was pointless and a waste of time, excavation of the supposedly 'natural' feature produced a very fine beaker!

If site I'm thinking of, just been quoting report
Based on yesterday, a good practical skill to teach them would be not fully emptying the wheelbarrow when it's gusting to 80mph, saves having to fetch it back from the other side of the site each time from amongst the collection of hardhats, buckets, diggers etc impaled on the fence... :0

oh, and finding a deep hole to work down in strong wind is not, actually, a good idea, just means you get grit-blasted (and dried rabbit droppings fly well too!) in the face rather than around the shins...made a pleasant change from the normal sandstorm on that site anyway, goggles and safety glasses suddenly became quite popular for onceCool
Oh the joys of getting grit-blasted on Norfolk quarry sites...although it was oft pointed out to some of the more 'skin concious' members of site staff that they could be paying an awful lot of money for dermal abrasion in the posher upmarket Norwich clinics .... much in the same way that I have heard archaeologists describe 'on site contracted dysentry' as money saved on their next session of colonic irrigation and also 'Who needs to spend money on fitness classes when you can push this wheelbarrow up and down a muddy spoil heap all day'....!!
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
Always entertaining having to run full barrows downslope to the spoilheap in wet weather (or black ice) on a clay site too.... }Smile
AhhhI remember it well! wet chalk, wet clay...fantastic H&S scares all round!

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