a self-absorbed travelogue

Chapter 21: The Thaw is On

Thankfully, ours is a planet that wobbles and spring appears to have finally come to Georgia. The snow has melted, the sun is visible on occasion and flowers are beginning to bloom. This change in the weather has definitely affected my mood. I am ready to find me some archaeology. Granted I was ready to find said archaeology as early as March 10th, but there is no fighting the weather. Before I go on with the happenings over the past week, I want to apologize for the lack of pictures. My last blog post took an inordinate amount of time to complete, and it was all due to the photos I uploaded. This week I only have a few minutes to write. So, the pictures will have to wait. Again, my apologies.

This week has been equal parts productive and unproductive. On the productive side, I have completed most of the research and outlining for a paper my advisor wants me to write concerning Colchian pottery. I think its going to be pretty good and am interested to see how it turns out. I also completed two full days of solo survey. This is the hardest kind of survey to do, especially from a motivation standpoint. To start this year I decided to returned to Mshvidobis Gora, the hill that lies to the northeast of Vani. At the far western end of this hill (really a ridge) are the remains of a medieval tower  which I had documented last year. I wanted to get some better pictures and to check a measurement that didn’t seem right. Luckily I forgot my tape measure and neglected to replace the camera SD card before I left the house. Sooo, I wandered around the hill and did some cleaning of the structure in preparation for the photos. Two days later, I returned to the tower and got the photos and measurements. Afterward, I decided to head east along the ridge to take pictures of the valley before the trees leaf out. I took my time, making sure to get all the photos I could possibly ever want. Eventually, I came to the highest point on the ridge where I decided to take a rest and record what I had done up to that point. While sitting there, I became aware of the large number of cobbles and small boulders which littered the ridge here. I then noticed that, due to erosion, there were areas were large numbers of these stones had slid creating linear features on the surface.

I made note of them in my notebook and decided to walk over these features to get a sense of the size of the stones and the total area of the spread. After about ten feet, my eye caught something orange slightly covered by stones. It was a piece of burnt daub. This material is created when daub from a wattle and daub structure (for lack of a better source, see wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wattle_and_daub) experiences a burning event.   Burnt daub found archaeological often is created when the structure itself is burned (either intentionally or by accident). Finding these generally indicates occupation of the period I am most interested in (second half of the first millennium BCE). Needless to say, I got excited. A few feet farther, and there were three pieces and then more and then more. After about 30 minutes of unsystematic looking, I found at least 30 pieces of daub which were strewn over an area of about 100m by 30 or 40 m. Jackpot…maybe. Given the slope of the area and the heavy rainfall it experiences, there is little doubt that the area over which this material was spread is not the actual extent of occupation (if this does in fact indicate occupation). Unfortunately, I found only one fragment of pottery which likely dates to the 3rd or 4th centuries BCE. It was heavily worn, but retained some tell-tale decoration. I also found two pieces of flint.

This is exciting for two reasons: 1) it is on a hill that faces Vani and, if the material holds up, was contemporary with it and 2) for the second year in a row I found a site on the first day of survey. Those who do archaeological survey will know how important is for one’s own moral to find a site early. It lets you know that there is stuff to be found if you just get off your butt and go look. Once I have more help, I will return to the site and do a quick gridded collection of the surface ceramics and stone artifacts (including daub). Hopefully this will allow us to get a feel for the the type of activity that took place here. If it is still promising, I hope that in the near future we can carry out some geophysical prospection to really see what’s up. Productivity wow!

As for the unproductive part, I can thank the weather and my own inability to stay motivated in the face of setbacks. Though it has thawed, we still have driving rain and cold temps most days. If I was more hardcore, I would still go out and do some work. I am not that hardcore. The other hurdle that has gotten in the way of work is the every present supra. This week was the birthday of Nato’s mother. We went to their house and proceeded to have a proper supra for 5 hours. A “proper” supra means that wine is not really optional. Supras are a continuing danger here in Georgia. There is an etiquette to the supra and it often interferes with the goals of a survey archaeologist. I continue to get better at navigating them, but sometimes there is no escape.

So, that is this past week in a nutshell. I wanted to force myself to write this week as to encourage a weekly update of the blog. We will see how that goes. I have had very little time to work on the official working blog of the project, but will put my shoulder into it tomorrow and hopefully get it live within the week. See you on the other side of the week!

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3 responses

  1. Kate Larson

    Hooray! The mark of a true archaeologist: excitement about burned bricks and grotty pottery.

    Not much else, but I wanted to let you know I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog.

    April 1, 2012 at 14:25

  2. Mom

    Fantastic!!! So enjoy your narration of the happenings in Georgia. How exciting to have found the artifacts. BUT need more pictures. Smile. I love you son, Mom

    April 2, 2012 at 13:06

  3. M McO

    Much belated, but congrats on the site-find!

    May 30, 2012 at 12:28

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