Posted by: signalhillarchaeology | July 10, 2009

The Fun of Fieldwork…

(Instructor’s note: working on an archaeological dig can be fascinating, exciting, tiring, and frustrating all at the same time. But, it can also be a lot of fun, and here’s one student’s amusing perspective on the subject.)

Hypothetically speaking, the author of a Signal Hill’s Farmer’s Almanac would
have, quite possibly, the simplest task a weather forecaster has ever faced.
Let me take a stab at it. “For the month of July I can predict with the utmost
amount of confidence that there will be fog. Some days there will be thick fog,
while other days there will be fog that is slightly less thick. Some days the
fog will be white, while other days the fog will be just a little bit
off-white. And if you’re lucky, and I mean ONLY if you’re lucky, some days you
may just be able to make out a couple of hundred meters of that wee body of
water we around here like to refer to as “The Atlantic”. But I can assure you,
there will be fog.”

See? It practically writes itself. I could make millions.

The above was written two days ago, and apparently I would make little or no
money in the Farmer’s Almanac business. The last two days have been absolute
gems on the east coast. The sun has been  blazing. The breeze off of the
Atlantic has been barely enough to keep the heat stroke at bay. Unfortunately,
however, it has not been enough to keep my lower back from succumbing to what I
now know is coined “diggers burn”. Without getting too descriptive, this burn
results from a combination of exposing only your lower back to the sun, and
wearing your pants just a little bit too low. Needless to say I have a very
painful, sideways crescent moon shaped burn just above my derriere. I paint a
pretty picture, don’t I? Oh, I also have a burnt scalp. I should invest in a

Now, I suppose I should start talking about the actual dig hey? Firstly, I want
to throw a little shout out to everyone who’s helping run this dig. Amanda,
Stephane, Danielle, and Jen are all terrific people. I’ve actually been trying
to find somebody on this dig that I don’t like. My attempts have been in vain.
It appears that everyone is just too cool.

The last two days have yielded little in the way of artifacts at Ladies’ Lookout, as we’ve been completing some detailed maps, so digging has been at a minimum.
No artifacts does not mean boring times though. Only yesterday I almost killed
Michaela with root clippers. Apparently root clippers are not meant to be
thrown. What’s with that? (Instructor’s note: root clippers are not meant to be thrown, Tom. Root clippers are for clipping roots. I can’t emphasize that enough.)

These students may not look like they are having fun, but I assure you, they are. Mapping at the North Range Barracks.

These students may not look like they are having fun, but I assure you, they are. Mapping at the North Range Barracks.

And, for some insane reason, somebody (you know who you are, Stephane), allowed
me to use a blow torch today. (Instructor’s note, again:  Tom isn’t kidding here. The fastest and easiest way to remove hundreds of annoying root hairs is to torch them off with a small portable blow torch). It probably ranks up there with some of the most
awesome things I’ve ever done in my whole life. I am not exaggerating. Also,
there were no new additions to the Burn Victims Unit! Everyone wins! But
seriously, a blow torch? To torch roots? Little tiny roots?

I’m already hooked.

-Tom Farrell (Student)


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