ARCH 0420: Archaeologies of the Greek Past

Survey archaeology: the first glimpse into any archaeological site by Emile Bautista

April 4, 2014 · 7 Comments



Today in class, we used survey techniques to inspect approximately half of Brown University’s main green. We split up into about 13 transects and walked in our own paths to see what types of ‘pottery’ and ‘stone tools’ we could discover laying around (in reality, we substituted things we would actually find on the main green for objects typically found at a site).

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This activity was quite the change of pace for our class and differed greatly from any of the group activities or discussion done in class. Spending class time outdoors, as cold as it was, was a refreshing way of simulating some of the things learned this week about the Greek countryside. Much of the countryside has been inspected by archaeologists using techniques similar to the ones we used, but on a much grander scale. Trying to use survey methods ourselves really puts the work done by archaeologists into perspective. The bitter cold combined with the biting wind made being outside insufferable at times. And yet, there are archaeologists who document the countryside, no matter the weather. Additionally, it took us far longer to examine a small portion of the main green than I had ever expected. The prospect of having to do this on a larger scale frightens me and I respect those whose passion is this.

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My ‘finds’ consisted mainly of branches, which served as pottery in our case. I would estimate that about 80% of the things I documented were sticks. This led to another epiphany: survey archaeologists surely find many of the same artifacts and it is their duty to record all instances. The monotony of that concept is not lost upon me. I found myself in a state of excitement when I found things like cigarette butts (aka roof tiles), something that was rare in my transect. Yet, I would expect that something like this is commonplace among many sites and these sorts of feelings are few and far between. I’m sure I speak for the entire class when I say that this activity really put into perspective the field work done by archaeologists around the world.


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