Poetic Archaeology 2

I thought I’d continue the “poetic archaeology” with a little twist. I’ll give a short discussion of the real work behind the poem after it. So here goes nothing.

she bends to her work

laying out the blue flagged path

her crew starts the day

Poetic Archaeology 1 had a more ethereal quality to it, I think. That poem was about the initial discovery of an archaeological site. Our archaeologist was in the midst of an initial survey, investigating whether any sites were present in her project area. And she found one with that glint in the soil. That can be the thrill of discovery—if we don’t let deadlines and budgets dominate our thoughts.

Poetic Archaeology 2 shows a controlled surface collection. In the US, it’s often done before we start excavating a site if we have good ground visibility, such as in a plowed field. A grid is set over the site area, often with pin flags stuck in the ground at set intervals. (You may have seen pin flags marking buried utility lines before a construction project.) The size of the grid squares varies, but 5 meters (15 feet) is a common interval. Crew members then collect the artifacts that are visible on the ground surface from each square of the grid.

The archaeologist will tally up the artifact distribution from this collection to decide where excavation units would be most productive. Archaeologists rarely excavate an entire site these days. Instead, we focus on areas that will provide enough information to understand the site while leaving parts of it intact for future generations.

So for now we’ll leave our archaeologist and her crew collecting the surface artifacts from each square. I’m not sure what she’ll find next….

28 thoughts on “Poetic Archaeology 2

  1. I love it – ‘Poetic Archaeology’. Images of tombs, digs and other wonderments with a distinct flair populates my mind. The actual explanation is just as intriguing.


    • Maybe I am good at spinning a tale if I can make the real thing sound intriguing 😉 I worked at some movie-worthy places as a graduate student. But it’s easy to make those places sound sexy. Making your neighborhood look good is a little harder!


  2. I liked how you gave us the poem to stir our curiosity and followed it up with the details. Perfect way to hook me! 😉


    • Thanks, Kourtney! I think I’ll keep doing the occasional post like this.

      I try not to focus on my stats too much (I fail miserably!), and blog views are down this week. Maybe I’m losing some people’s interest, but that shouldn’t be surprising. I’ve lost interest in some blogs I started following at first, and not for any bad reason. Still, I always think the worst when it comes to me! 🙂


      • My stats fluctuate a lot. I find what I think most people will find interesting end up being the posts that fall flat. 🙂 And what I think is not a great post garners tons of attention. 😉 You’re a great writer and I really enjoy your blog.


        • Funny, that’s exactly how it seems with my posts. My personal favorites often get fewer views/comments than I expect, and others go through the roof (well, at least my roof!).

          Thanks for the moral support! 🙂

          (Trying to catch up on blogs before lunch, and then it’s dialogue editing time. I’ve got a free day today. WooHoo!)


          • My blog about my ingrown toe nail problem gets continual hittage. How to write a great query letter–not nearly as successful. 🙂

            Good luck! I’m revising 4 chapters of my YA today. Almost done re-visioning the entire book. Then I have to change the query and synopsis. Gulp. Again. But I love my story. I love my story. 🙂


    • That is a really interesting idea…. I will give it some thought. It is amazing to be surrounded by such creative people like you with such great ideas!


      • I used to work with children’s books a lot.(grandparents and parents – and baby showers and birthday presents fro aunts and uncles, libraries, schools- all potential buyers) It’s a tough market, but this is a unique idea – an interesting career choice for protagonist..might work


    • Well, it’s me trying to be poetic 😉 Trying to condense the jargon and academic/professional writing styles of archaeology into a few words of poetry is a real effort for me. Even trying to describe it in normal English is hard!

      It’s partly an exercise that I hope will help me tighten my wording in my novels. 🙂


    • We try! Sometimes we can’t. If an important site will be destroyed by a construction project, then we try to get everything, or at least as much as we can, excavated. That way, the artifacts and information about the site’s use and what was there will be preserved.

      I won’t get into the various federal, state, and local laws that are involved in the work!


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