Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Making maps, filling holes

Today was the last day of excavation at ’Aoa. After we finished digging in the new unit, B3, the guys helped me run tape measures while I took compass bearings to make the site map. There are a couple things that must be done in order to have any excavation make sense. 1). Set a site datum: this is a point on the landscape that you create and mark with a flagged peg, GPS the coordinates and then use it as the point from which other locations are tied to. 2). Once that is done you can take a compass bearing and tape measure or GPS to map out the excavation units. You also want to map in permanent objects like houses, walls, streams etc. Mapping in permanent structures lets future archaeologist figure out where I dug so they don’t waste time digging in part of one of my old excavation units.

Tomorrow I’ll bail out the water from the units and make a profile map of the unit wall. This lets me keep an illustrated map of the sediment layers and buried soils and shows how the layers relate to buried artifacts.

lastly we’ll backfill the excavation units. It’s hard work digging in reverse too. I’m always surprised at how much sediment is packed into a 1x1 meter hole in the ground. It’s hard work but it’s also fun to goof around in a good mood at the end of a project while backfilling.

In the next week and a half or so before I leave I plan on setting up a few meetings with the state historic preservation officer to discuss my plans for June/July. I’ll be returning for a few weeks next summer to survey Ofu island in order to figure out where folks got local clay for pottery. That project will be a good time too.

Well, thanks for hanging around for ’Aoa. I always looked forward to writing the week’s events while hanging out here in the village. Seeing that folks back home glance at what I’m up to now and then makes me feel a little more at home, thanks guys!

so long for now.

An eel found its way into excavation
unit B1, it's a first for me too.

in the belly of the beast, tagging stratigraphic
layers in Unit A1

Our water screening station made
excavations possible in the thick clay


  1. Dan,
    That first photo of you sitting down, surrounded by the bright golden columns is beautiful. Where is that?

  2. That's my morning hangout outside my room in Aoa. I usually drink a cup of coffee there before we head out to dig. It's a good spot to cross-check my game plan for the day and tell a few jokes before work starts.

  3. Dan,
    It's so good to hear the details of what you do. The picture of you in "the belly of the beast" looks scary to me. I'm not sure how you get in and out of there other than scaling the walls, unless there's an open side that I can't see from the angle of the picture.


  4. Well, we have to put a ladder in to get down there. When it's time to get out we bring it back in and climb on out. It's a good feeling to see the surface again!

  5. Oh, ladders...
    What a great invention!