Wrapping up

The end of an archaeological field season is a hectic time. In addition to trying to either finish trench excavation or leave the trench in a safe state for additional excavation next season, there is pottery to wash, finds to process, photos to take, and archaeological drawings to do.

Two archaeologists carefully remove an intact bowl
It’s a bowl!

Both the south and the north trenches have been completed excavated, as we’ve reached bedrock in both. There was not enough time to fully excavate the middle trench, given its size and the complexity of its surfaces. We have reached the first floor level on the east side of the trench, and we’ll leave the cleaned floor as a cap on what’s below. We’ll likely continue excavations there next year.

We removed all finds from the surface of the middle trench, including a plate and an intact echinus bowl.

Many archaeologists look at a broken plate
It’s a plate!

The plate and bowl were heavily encrusted with mineral deposits, and had to be specially cleaned.

An upside-down bowl with some dark slip with a scale
A study photo of the cleaned echinus bowl

Once excavation was finished, any necessary points and photographs were taken. This required a lot of sweeping.

Two archaeologists use a GPS system to measure a deep trench with a large wall running through
Taking final points on the south trench

At Vigla, we also create 3D models of each excavated trench and sometimes other important stratigraphic units using photogrammetry, a process that stitches together several hundred photographs taken from different angles to create an extremely accurate three dimensional representation of the trench.

A 3-d model of an archaeological trench
Photoscan model of the south trench

These 3D models allow us to produce plans of each trench and give us the ability to investigate different sections of the trench in more detail than traditional photography would permit.

A 3-d image of an archaeological trench
Photoscan model of the floor of the middle trench with the intact echinus bowl visible toward the center

Despite using these technological tools for recording the trenches, archaeologists also rely on more traditional, manual recording methods. At the end of the season, students and trench supervisors spent a good deal of time drawing the baulks of the trenches. The baulks give the clearest sense of the stratigraphy of an area, and the human eye can pick up changes in soil color and texture that are very difficult to capture on camera.

Archaeologists measure and draw while more archaeologists sweep in the background
Drawing the baulk in the middle trench, while the far side is swept for final photos

In the north trench, one section of the baulk was nearly three meters deep and included dozens of distinct layers. While the upper portions of the trench were mudbrick wall and collapse, there were several distinct layers of charcoal in the lower section, representing some kind of burning event near the beginning of the wall’s life. Measuring and drawing these layers was a laborious and long process. And it’s hot in the pit.

An archaeologist stands in a deep trench drawing
Drawing the very large and complicated baulk of the north trench

As trench photography and drawing were happening on site, at Terra Ombra, the storage facility for the district archaeology museum, we processed and stored finds for the season. This includes cataloging and photographing objects that will be turned over to the Cypriot Department of Antiquities, especially all metal finds.

a football-shaped lead bullet on a black background with color control swatch and scale
Final photography of a lead sling bullet

We also had time to revisit some soil from the 2018 season that had been reserved to collect the botanical remains associated with what may be a foundation deposit for the fortification wall. To collect botanical remains, the soil is mixed well with water and left to rest. The light seeds, chaff, and charcoal rises to the top of the water, while the heavier soil sinks to the bottom. The water is then strained to collect the botanical samples.

Several archaeologists with their hands in buckets of bubbling mud
Mud massaging

While some projects have machines to do this process, known as flotation, quickly and efficiently, we instead employed a slower manual method known as bucket flotation.

Small seeds and pieces of charcoal sit atop a folded piece of screen
Botanical remains after flotation

Back on site, the middle trench was put in “stasis” until next year by protecting architecture with tarp and sandbags.

A group of men cover exposed walls with tarp and add sandbags
Preparing the middle trench for next year

The other two trenches were backfilled using the huge amount of material we had sieved over the course of the season. It’s hard to believe that three weeks of hard work can be reversed in just over an hour by a backhoe.

A large, scraped dirt patch
This used to be the north trench, which was almost three meters deep

At this point, all that’s left to do is dispose of our dear departed Dowelinator…

A makeshift archaeological sieve made primarily of dowels in a large dumpster
D.M. Dowelinatori 3600 vixit diebus XXII filio dulcissimo Dowelinatoris 3500

…and enjoy a very large meal.

Many smiling people around a large table in a restaurant
Final dinner