Concluding Excavations at SERC

Two field school students screening for artifacts at the SERC site.

Two field school students screening for artifacts at the SERC site.

It’s really hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day at SERC. Over the past three weeks, the field students have learned an incredible amount about not only archaeology but also the rich history that  exists at the SERC properties. During our first week at SERC, we spent most of our time digging shovel test pits (STPs). While at times this might have seemed redundant, especially when we were not finding any artifacts, completing the STPs helped us students learn that having patience is an incredibly important aspect of being an archaeologist.

Once the STPs were completed, we moved on to excavating units. For many of us, this was our first time ever excavating a unit and there was a lot to be learned. We learned much about excavating  during the first weeks, like how to hold a trowel and the best ways to properly dig using a trowel or a shovel. With help from the graduate students, we were able to catch on very quickly. And our units proved very fruitful! Almost every shovel full had artifacts in them and each unit ended up exposing different elements of our site.

Unit 3 in progress- SERC

Unit 3 in progress near the end of the excavation at SERC.

After digging there for almost a week and a half, the group excavating Unit 1 has found reasons to believe that their unit is in the front yard of the house and could possibly be a portion of an old garden. Unit 2 has concluded that their section of the property could have included a porch-like area. Finally, Unit 3 is a good example of the differences that can exist in the soil and the artifact assemblage between the inside of a house and the outside. The outside portion of the house included many more domestic artifacts, while the inside of the house gave up mainly architectural artifacts.

A field student assisting with mapping the SERC site.

A field student assisting with mapping the SERC site.

As part of our concluding activities on the site, Ben took myself and a couple of other students to help him map the site. This was a unique opportunity to learn about total stations and mapping. We used the total station to find the precise locations of our shovel test pits and units so that they could later be added to a map of the site. This process was also a test of patience since the total station had moments where it would not work for us and human error occurred a few times as well. Overall, this was a very quick but intriguing look into a side of archaeology that I had not yet been able to experience.

We have learned a lot in the past three weeks at SERC. It will be strange to not return to SERC after tomorrow but at the same time it will be nice to feel some closure on the work we have completed so far. I am looking forward to the next part of our journey at Wye House!

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