Events Blog

Practical Archaeology Course 2006: Day Eight

Wednesday began for the team with an introduction to the Harris Matrix, a diagrammatic system used on site in order to demonstrate the order in which events have occurred. This helps us to understand the formation processes that have led to the creation of features found on site and will help when recording after excavation.

Today we also had a seminar on animal bones given by Jessica Grimm, a specialist from Wessex Archaeology. After telling us how she processes animal bone from a site, and the information she might expect to get from an assemblage, she gave us a large number of jawbones all found on the same archaeological site. To the surprise and delight of some of us we managed to sort them into species, work out their ages and finally come to conclusions about the use made of the different animals at that particular site – all in a one-hour workshop!

Then we settled in for nearly a full day of fieldwork on site. Several postholes were completed and the excavation of many others begun. Work also started on what we thought might be a quarry pit to the south of our excavation area. This feature proved to be quite shallow with a highly irregular base, prompting a currently unresolved on-site debate as to whether this truly is a quarry pit, whether it is formed due to natural processes, or whether it is something else entirely!

Excavation also began on two small pits to the north of the site. One of these, which we are excavating in quadrants, contained a sherd of pottery, which will hopefully give us a clearer date for this part of the area. From its dark fill and the large number of pieces of burnt flint it contains, the second pit appears to be a small hearth or burning pit. This pit also contains one of the nicest finds of the excavation so far – a fineware bowl, broken in-situ. It looks as if at least half of it remains.

The pot does not appear to be burnt and so it seems that it had been placed in the pit after it had ceased to be used for burning. Could this represent a ritual deposit commemorating the end of the use of the pit, or even the decommissioning of any surrounding associated structures? Or has this pot just been thrown away in a convenient hole after it was broken? These are the questions we will be trying to answer as we continue our excavations.

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