Alok Panray

The dig progresses and we do too. Today, Monday 11/7 aside from digging and screening dirt and taking notes we also started to learn to make archaeological sketches. This involved a lot of planning and measuring.

Danielle and I sat ourselves in the MB4 trench with the grueling task of sketching the complex mosaic of rocks into a 20cm x 20cm makeshift grid sketched with ruler and pencil into a copybook. I was measuring. She was sketching. 

We laid out two measuring tapes spanning out the north side and the west side of the trench. The idea was to give the easting (number of cm away from the west edge of the trench) and the southing (number of cm away from the north end of the trench). This allowed us to use a Cartesian coordinate system to communicate the position of everything in our trench with each other.

I was to give her all the important points that she would need to sketch the contents of the trench. “Important” refers to the minimum number of points that would allow the sketcher to form a polygon on the paper that roughly corresponds to the shapes of the features in the trench which include rocks and bricks. The information was conveyed in the form of Cartesian coordinates. I would find a point, tell her which point it was and give the coordinates to it. This would allow her to place a point on the axes and eventually play connect-the-dots to fill in a 2D layout of what we saw in the trench.

The experience was overall instructive as a glimpse into what field archaeology really looks like in a professional setting. I would imagine that on many sites, the emphasis on sketching is a lot stronger than it was in our project. Hence it is a very important skill to practice and develop. The most important thing I take away from the lesson is that consistency is extremely important. The fact that we did not switch roles meant that we did keep some level of consistency on how the points were measured and how they were sketched.