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….