Frustration continues near the summit of Sainte-Candie as we struggle to excavate through increasingly difficult stratigraphy. Compact brownish silt has given way to soft fine-grained pink sand, which was easily removed and underneath was compact grey clayish silt, which, when excavated, was mixed with pinkish sand and a grittier reddish sand. Underneath all of that was a reddish sand, but its looking like the compact grey stuff is mixed in as well. What a mess. The lack of any special finds is challenging especially considering that our primary objective of finding and interpreting or contextualizing new contexts is so obscured. What we are finding are shards of local ceramics (the grey stuff I might’ve mentioned previously), regionally circulated ceramics from Liguria in Italy, and one of the most commonly made and traded wares from around the Mediterranean known as African Red Slip.
Neil did have one redeeming find earlier this week: a tiny shard of glass with a beautiful little series of ridges ringing the rim of the former vessel. Glass like this either came from Egypt or Syria. A tiny little glimmer of hope in an otherwise dim trench.
Besides finding very little, what have we actually accomplished these past two weeks? Well, we’ve excavated nearly half a meter of soil, recording and digging through five contexts. We’ve even removed the remnants of an early medieval wall.
As you can probably gather, we did a lot of work. As I was contemplating what to write about, I realized that I never took the time to explain the tools we use to do all this work. So, without further ado, let me introduce the “tools of the trade.”
Perhaps the best place to start is with the tools we use to actually do the digging. Obviously, we use pickaxes and shovels, but these more intricate stratigraphic units often require smaller, finer tools for removing soil carefully. For these situations, we use trowels and handpicks.
For removing the shrubbery and general taming of the forest, we use axes, saws and various clippers and trimmers. These usually make their big appearance when opening a new trench.
Measurement and drawing are perhaps the second most important activities behind excavating itself. For these, a lot of helpful tools come into play.
There is perhaps one other set of tools I’ve left until last to mention: the mind and the hands. Together they make the excavation, recording, and most importantly, the interpretation a reality.