Thursday, August 11, 2011

Big Dig 2- Day 3

Last year's dig collected 1352 artifacts.  I mistakenly measured success by how many items were found.  I learned something new.  As a teacher I often tell the kids it's quality, not quantity.  The same is true on a dig.  I've stopped counting the number of items found and have learned to look at what else is happening.  The first day the team worked with shovels.  The next worked with trowels; today they are down to brushes.  Slowly, ever so slowly, the dig is revealing its secrets, which lead to more questions. 

Since I don't do the digging, my job is watching (hey, it can be quite exhausting). The first couple of days had a lot of chatter and the energy of starting the dig.    Today things were more quiet, not that there wasn't a lot going on, au contraire.  Watching the team today you saw a lot of thought and analysis going on.  That mystery item is still unknown.  Hearth?  Well-stone?  Canal rubble?  The students put in hours of painstaking time slowly uncovering each millimeter of dirt. 

The story of Lowell's Irish is an unfinished jigsaw puzzle.  Each day new pieces are being uncovered, and need to find their place in the big puzzle. 

Today, another archaeologist came by, Suanna.  She taught me about the unforgotten part of archaeology- dirt.  Yes, dirt.  She explained that dirt can tell about the landscape, or the plants, or food of an area.  All from a bag of dirt. 

Watching Colm and Dermot I saw a great teacher-student interaction.  Dermot was sharing with Colm his assumptions, and Colm was affirming and asking him to reach to the next level.  Dimitrios is a natural problem solver and is the first to offer an idea or a helping hand.
Sarah is a professional.  I have watched her uncover the same area for 2 days now.  She sees things in the soil that I miss easily.  I don't know where she finds the patience to not just pull something out of the ground instead of taking the time to wait until it exposes itself.
Watching Stuart and Eunice work makes me appreciate the effort and commitment they have.  They have spent hours itemizing and classifying material.  Stuart has vast background knowledge on identifying items.  Eunice sees things in a global perspective, the big picture.  Ronan has taught me not to jump to conclusions.

I will attempt to add a video clip.  I have no idea what I'm doing.  You might have to turn your whole monitor to see it- sorry about that.

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