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2006 Tyler Bastian Field Session in Maryland Archeology

Hughes Site (18MO1), Montgomery County
June 23 - July 3, 2006

Commentary on the field session or about the selected photos would be greatly appreciated.
Contact John Fiveash if you have input for this page.

It was a dark and stormy night, followed by a dark and stormy day, followed by another dark and stormy night and yet another dark and stormy day! In the midst of it all, ASM members stood, chomping at the bit to get access to a waterlogged field that our Principle Investigator (PI) assured us held treasures that king Solomon would be jealous of.

In May and June the Field Session Committee met to discuss the urgency of the "Water Problem". Remembering how we struggled to provide enough water for the lab at the Winslow Site in 2002, we knew that water would be an issue at the Hughes site. We weren't disappointed in our assessment. Just 100% wrong in what the problem would actually be.

The Field Session started out hot and dry. Surely a repeat of the 2002 drought was in our future! Charlie and Joe had laid out the working grid earlier in the week. Nearly as soon as excavation began, new squares were needed.
Sifting begins just as soon as the first bucket of dirt is filled. This is almost always one of the best places to learn about what artifacts are to be found on the site. Second best place to see artifacts; the lab .Volunteers work at scrubbing the dirt from the artifacts.
By the end of the second day the site begins to take shape. New units are opened and plow zone begins to disappear. The lab has also become a major operation. Attempts to keep up with bags of artifacts keep several folks busy continuously.

Reality hits hard! Examination of the site confirmed speculation that digging would have to take a holiday. Participants held out hope for a dryer tomorrow. It wouldn't come to be.
While site checks were taking place, a few hardy souls made an attempt to clear up the backlog of artifact cleaning.
Back at the campsite, Charlie Hall's Pharonic Veranda slowly morphed into Montgomery County's shallowest swimming pool. (On later days, campers surmise, it lost that title as well.) Monday and Tuesday were complete washouts at the site. By Tuesday evening the roads began to slide under the growing tide. Wednesday would be the next day that we were able to work.
The moment of truth comes as shelters are removed from the excavation, exposing the wrath of a soggy mother nature.
Once the units were opened up, bailing begins. Use of an electric pump and lots of home-made bailers made the job go quickly.
Charlie Hall talks to students from Montgomery College about the site and what they can expect during their visit.
Dennis Curry prepares to lay out more grid squares while those excavated earlier dry in the summer sun.
Bill Davis, from the National Park Service, provided this view of the site midway through the session.
Martha displays tiptoe poise as she trowels the surface of the unit clean in order to examine it for possible features.
The field lab was operating nearly every day of the session. This location is often a cool refuge for those seeking to escape the blazing sun and tropical humidity.
Despite the weather setbacks, progress was being made by the end of the week. This unit yielded several features and other interesting artifacts.
Mary and Sarah work on cleaning up the floor of their unit.
Screening was a major part of the work, as it always is. Given the number of lithic flakes found in most units, this could easily result in a good shredding of gloves and palms alike.
When possible features appear in the unit, Barry and Anatolla switch from wholesale shoveling to a more refined removal of soil from around the bones and other artifacts.
Typical artifact yield from most units this year include fire-cracked rock, ceramic sherds, and lots of little quartz flakes.
Michael works on his shovel skimming techniques.
The Social night was a success with most workers stopping by the campground for grilled treats. An amazing amount of food disappeared in a very short period of time.
Our grillmeister supplies hungry excavators with a constant lineup of burgers, hot dogs and sausages. The third Field Session Social in a row starring barbequed favorites.
Joe Dent photographs a sectioned feature before ordering the rest of the fill removed for flotation sampling.
The excavated feature bakes in the sun following removal of the extra soil.
Dr. Dent takes pity on those workers who have stuck out the wet and the heat. Cold watermelon is a BIG hit. A suitably refreshed crew hit the field after lunch. (Future PIs should take note!)
Dennis works to provide a steady stream of freshly sharpened shovels and trowels as excavation proceeds at a feverish pace.
This unit revealed a larger feature, possibly a trash pit, as well as suspiciously placed fire-cracked rocks, all in a line.
Kathy and John carefully remove soil from the feature to be used in a flotation analysis later on.
Use of the shelters makes it possible to take photographs with consistent lighting.
Dr. Bob Wall visited the site to see what was going on and to present a lecture on progress at the Barton Site.
Kathy works to cross section a feature and preserve the soil for flotation analysis.
Suitably cross sections, the feature is ready to a portrait to be taken. The rest of the feature was later excavated.
Mason jar lids are used to try and examine a series of possible post molds for a semblance of a pattern.
Late on the last day, workers gather to discuss the implications of the patterns. (Which is the tiddly and which is the wink.)
Group photo on last day of work.

Field Session participants take time out on the last day of work for a group photo.

Thanks - The Archeological Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Historic Trust would like to thank Ken D'Loughy and the entire Department of Natural Resources team that made this field session possible. They worked closely with us to ensure site access, as well as use of a great camping area, were available. We especially would like to thank Dave Long, who cleared brush from the area and Dave Weitzer, who gave up farming on half of his field for the season.