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Archaeology Equals Destruction

Emma gets us up to speed at the end of week 2:
Not many members of the public seem to realise that when an excavation happens, it does result in destruction of the site. We, the archaeologists and archaeology students, come in and disturb the site. In the process of looking for finds and context layers, this destroys the site. Once we have done our job of retrieving the site’s hidden secrets, the archaeology that was once there is now gone. Lost forever but surviving in records, documents, storage buildings, pictures and publications. The best example of this has been the work I have been doing for most of the past week.

For the past week I was given a slightly different task from the rest of my peers (although Jonathan took over on my study leave). I was assigned to help our local finds expert, Julie, to take apart the hearth that was discovered last year, brick by brick. Not as easy a task as it may sound! Due to the conditions the individual bricks had gone through, both during its life and during its burial, the bricks were not stable. Most of the bricks had become crumbly (particularly around the top part) and so removing them was a tricky task. For all the individual bricks that broke in half, I had to bag them in order to keep them together (as they needed to be measured for post-excavation analysis).

The dismantling of the hearth took longer than expected due to the heavy rain on Thursday. So for the morning we ended up having to wash the excavated bricks. Yes, you read that right. Groups A & D had to wash the bricks before being stored for post-excavation. I never thought I would have to perform such task in my life! By Friday the hearth was gone. Excavated, recorded and soon to be stored into the archaeological record.

Emma says goodbye to the hearth - by carefully washing each brick.