Dig Diary — Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day Seventeen

The "butterfly" stone, discovered by Jo, two weeks ago, has an apt visitor.

The “butterfly” stone, discovered by Jo, two weeks ago, has an apt visitor.

We are delighted to announce that we have a new building.

Site director Nick and Structure Twelve supervisor, Jim, were there at the birth this morning, indeed acting as midwives.

Both Nick and Jim are doing well and the new building is to be called Structure Twenty-Three.

Actually, the new Ness family member was recognised because both Nick and Jim were doing what archaeologists do best: that is, standing in a trench talking and gesticulating at stones.

They had been discussing the myriad of walls associated with the porch at the north end of Structure Twelve and trying to disentangle the sequence relating to the bits of buttressing and secondary walling.

Then they realised that the lower half of one wall partially re-used what was an earlier building. Moreover, the disassociated walling under Structure Eleven, and especially the rubble spread in the central midden, may represent collapse from this earlier building. (There is, by the way, no truth in the rumour that Jim wanted to call the new building “George”).

Dave discusses, with his team, the next move in the central midden Area.

Dave discusses, with his team, the next move in the central midden Area.

In other parts of the site, soil scientists Jo and Lisa have been moving around taking samples from various areas.

A sondage (a deeper but carefully constrained hole), excavated in the floor of Structure One today, revealed, in section, at least fourteen different floor deposits. It is certain that, once the micromorphological analysis has been done, many more will be recognised.

Zoe has been preparing the north hearth in Structure Eight for analysis and already the deposits are looking promising.

A new sondage was also opened up between Structure One and Structure Twenty-one.

A direct stratigraphical relationship has already been established between the two buildings and, as examination has shown that the natural surfaces is only 50 cm below, it was decided to bottom out this section in order to retrieve material for radiocarbon dating.

What turned up was a small, flat stone beautifully decorated with incised patterns.

The finely incised stone discovered by Andy today.

The finely incised stone discovered by Andy today.

Not far away, the youngsters in the Excavation Club were digging once more at the south end of Structure Twelve and, just as on their previous visits, a really handsome piece of Grooved Ware was discovered.

Visitors today included Jim and Jim, the photographic twins from National Geographic magazine.

We wondered who was buzzing us yesterday, in a small single-engined plane, and, of course, it was the Jims.

They will be working here for the next few days, concentrating this time on photographing small finds for the long-anticipated National Geographic article, which has recently been scheduled for May next year (fingers crossed!)

From the Trenches

This week's budding archaeologists at the Excavation Club.

This week’s budding archaeologists at the Excavation Club.

Hello! My name is Jasmine Townsley, and I am a sophomore at Willamette University in Oregon.

I am currently studying biology. I decided to come to the Ness for several reasons.

Firstly, I had never been out of the United States before and wanted to explore a new country.

Secondly, I wanted to study abroad outside of my area of focus. This being said, studying here has been different from anything I have ever experienced.

Instead of working in a nice clean laboratory, I am constantly being pelted with rain, rattled by the wind, and end the day caked in mud from head to toe. I have to say, I absolutely love it.

Nothing compares to digging out old bits of pottery no one has touched for several thousand years, getting to see tools people used, and using these clues to piece together the lives of the people who used to live in the structures we are now unearthing.

Zoe and Jo discuss the sampling of one of the many hearths in Structure Eight.

Zoe and Jo discuss the sampling of one of the many hearths in Structure Eight.

Today, I worked in Structure Twelve.

Jim put me to work removing a yellow context from a particularly rocky area. I found only degraded bone in my little corner of the trench.

What was once part of the strong, sturdy skeletal system now looked more like waterlogged wood and crumbled upon the lightest touch.

If this is what I will look like in 5,000 years, I think I might want to be cremated.

Though I found nothing of interest, the young Archaeologist Club came to visit the Ness of Brodgar today, and one of their supervisors found a beautifully decorated piece of pot.

Since I had been only digging up small lumps of crumbly pot, this was very exciting and we all gathered around to take a look.

From what I could see, there were braid like ridges and a small circular impression. One of the greatest things about the Ness is the amazing amount of artwork we are finding.

I cannot wait to find out what piece of the puzzle will be filled after further analyses of these works!

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