Riley Duke, Preservation Archaeology Field School Student
Hello, Archaeology Southwest blog readers!
So far, my time at the Preservation Archaeology Field School has been nothing less than fantastic. I have spent the majority of my time either in the field excavating or with staff members working in experimental archaeology. My excavation group and I are currently investigating what we think is a pithouse dating from 700–800 years ago. Already, we have found pieces of pottery, stone tools, and shell, and I am always eager to see what we will find next.
My work in experimental archaeology has been equally enjoyable. Experimental archaeology is a method archaeologists use to bridge the gap between the physical remains of ancient artifacts and architecture (such as structures, pottery, tools, etc.) and our understanding of how people created and used those items. In order to do this, archaeologists attempt to replicate structures and objects using only the resources that were available to their creators in the past.
Yesterday, my team made wooden digging sticks using stone tools. We then used those digging sticks to dig the foundations for a single-room adobe house. Believe it or not, digging a 20-centimeter-deep trench 6 meters long and 20 centimeters wide took two people five hours!
Participating in experimental archaeology gives an advantage to any aspiring archaeologist because there is a huge difference between learning by reading and learning by doing. Not only has building this structure helped me recognize architecture in the field, but it has also given me a new appreciation for the people who originally built the structures we find and the massive amount of labor they put into their buildings. Everything is so instant and immediate these days that I wonder if we have lost the ability to be patient when progress is slow, knowing that, in time, our work will pay off.