By Ken Holyoke
After getting rained out of fieldwork on Saturday, the crew ended up with two days off, taking Sunday (our statutory break day) off as well. It ended up being another fairly soggy day at the Harrison Lewis Centre and in the midst of reading and catching up on notes I had prepared myself some lunch in the form of a sandwich. Relishing in the new groceries Matt and Gabe had just provided the camp, the sandwich ended up having many layers, and while looking at these layers I took to thinking about stratigraphy.
One of the issues archaeologists face, specifically when dealing with a feature such as a living space (like the one we are currently chasing out in Area C), is organizing the data we collect in an understandable way. The means by which we achieve this goal is through taking away different layers of soil (and in a midden, shell), or ‘stratigraphic’ layers, one at a time. These different layers are defined by the colour, inclusions or textures within the soil, and can represent different cultural occupations, environmental episodes or even disturbances at the site.
Because of the ephemeral nature of house floors, Gabe, Natalie, Jessica and I have to be quite conscious of these different layers. Each deposit we move down through represents a different deposition, and as we draw closer to the living floor, Gabe’s excitement grows. For a brief overview of the stratigraphy we are currently dealing with in AlDf-25 Area C, I will reference the 2009 E’se’get report and my sandwich…see the following pictures:
Level 1- Sod (Bread)
Level 2- Black sandy loam (Mayonnaise)
Level 3/3b- Black compact sandy loam (Pickles and spinach)
Level 3c/3d/3e- Shell-bearing midden (Ham)
Level 3f/3g/3h/3i- Compact black loam with organics (tomato, more spinach, cheese and mustard)