faunal_fantasy (faunal_fantasy) wrote,

Field Session 1 Recap

After my first five-day field session at this large and prestigious company I am trying to focus on all the things I have learned, and not focus on all the things I have yet to learn. It is quite clear to me (and I suspect the Project Directors) that I am not ready for my own crew. The fact that I have never dug a feature, apart from one burial, is glaringly clear. Nor have I chosen where to located test units based on artifact concentrations or topography. Nor have I ever established a site grid with any sort of instrument such as brunton, transit, or total station. The list continues. I don't know that the PDs think that they have made a bad choice--they certainly aren't paying me much--so it doesn't seem that catastrophic that I be stuck with a more experienced crew chief for a few more sessions. I have learned a lot from the current head crew chief and would not mind being shuffled around crews to learn from others. On the promising end, I learned a huge amount this week; that can only help!

Our site sucked like only a 200m long diffuse lithic scatter can suck. After two 1x1m test units yielded no cultural deposits beyond the first level, we started laying in shovel tests from one end of the site to the other. These yielded the same results. Tough calcium carbonate rich sediments appeared within a few cm of the weak A horizon, and given the composition of the horizon it seemed clear that all the artifacts were deflating onto the caliche horizon as well as being moved by high winds (boy we had some of those!) and water erosion. Boring, boring, boring. Good thing is that I got tons of experience on the transit, laying in grid, taking elevations, and mapping. I think I almost understand how to use this particular instrument!

I was not prepared for the weather. It was warm in Albuquerque, but as soon as you got to the other side of the Sandias it was below freezing with 8 to 35mph winds that lasted all day. It warmed up to the 60s by the afternoon, but we were starting at 6am so it was cold. We are moving up the hill into an even higher saddle this week; it is only going to get worse. I packed way more clothes for the next session.

Logistically, everything seems to be working out. I have a $46/night motel 8 mins from the office. My per diem is $86 a day except for the last day ($11 only). I have about $350 in per diem to pay for $270 of hotel room that Steve and I are splitting. I have a hot plate and a mini George Forman so food costs are low, and I have had very little desire to go out because of the bone-numbing exhaustion--I went to sleep at 8pm the first two days! We only get paid drive time to the site on the first day and from the site on the last day, so days are long and I end up having to put in my own time to write notes and do some office work. However, I rarely take our federally mandated two 15min breaks, so it probably works itself out (I make sure the field techs get their breaks, however!).

I am looking forward to switching from a regular work-week to a 10 day work-week. It is hard to drive 3.5 hours home on Friday knowing that you are going to have to drive back Sunday afternoon. A Thursday to Sunday weekend would be better, even though I know I will be exhausted after 10 days of continuous field work.

In Session 2 my goal is to make more decisions regarding where to place units and how best to lay in the site grid efficiently. I really hope they don't force me to lead a crew independently anytime soon. There are a lot of techs starting work in Session 3 (university holiday is beginning then), so there will be more pressure on me to take a crew. I know a lot of grads and undies from ENMU have taken tech positions and are starting that session. I have learned a lot, but not enough!
Tags: archaeology
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