Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday, July 30
The last day of our dig. It seems hard to believe it has been four weeks. Routine has come to dominate and you don’t notice the passing of the time. It is very quiet at breakfast this morning. People are tired from the work and last night’s party (or both). No one is working in the labs today and we are a full crew for the first time in several weeks.

Jonathon and I pick up where we left off yesterday, after having a good laugh about Peter’s comment from the previous evening. It is clear we are not going to get enough of the bridge removed to get down to the level of the clay pit. We do however, begin to find that the soil is changing, a clear sign that the usage of the pit at this level was different from the pit as a whole. What that might be will have to wait until next year.

In the afternoon all the supervisors are hanging around and we are getting a lot of attention. One, David Petts, who has not been on site much, notices “My Thing” and gets very curious about it. After looking at it for a few minutes he reaches down and tries to pick it up! I am shocked, as this is a clear breach of dig etiquette. He is unable to pick it up but he does move it slightly and Jonathon and I both see it.
I have waited long enough. I move over to it and begin working away on it. I am going to get it completely dug out before the end of the day and they can yell at me afterwards if they want. In minutes I have revealed a new part of it, a flat surface extending out from its circular side. The folks working around me are now watching my progress as much as working on their own sites.
After about half an hour I have it! I have dug out enough under it that it now moves easily. It appears to be one half of a bowl, probably a ceremonially basin, rendered useless when it was broken in half. I get Matt and tell him its done. He comes by to take a look at it and says he’s going to have to take pictures of it in situ and goes off to find a camera. I get my own and take several pictures. Peter comes by, looks at it, smiles, but says nothing.

It is my last bit of digging. Best to go out on top. I clean up and enjoy the attention “My Thing” gets.
Done. Finished.
Peter gives his last “What it all means” tour. We have broken through the medieval layer is some places (mostly in the vicus) and have exposed some details of the Roman foundations of the site. We have a clearer picture of how the site was used after the Romans left.

And we have finds galore. (A group visited from another Roman dig a couple of weeks ago. After two weeks of digging, they had 12 finds. We averaged that nearly every hour for four weeks.)
A group of local volunteers will come in behind us for two weeks. They will do some digging but they will also prepare the site for the coming of winter. Some of the trenches will be reburied and will have to be dug up again at the start of next season. After all of our hard work that is one part of a dig's activities I don’t want to see.
The bus ride back to the house is nosier than it has been for some time. We have finished and everyone is happy to be done, despite the end it will bring to our time together.
I quickly take a shower and race over to the big local hotel. After four weeks apart I am finally going to see Alex again! We go out to dinner at the one nice restaurant in walking distance, with me babbling about everything that has gone on.
Our reunion is too short as she will not be attending the party tonight. The idea of watching 40 people you don’t know get drunk doesn’t appeal to her.
We are going to take over a pub at the college where one of the Archeological Services folks works part time as a bartender. Stanford has kicked in some money for an open bar and everyone from Stanford and Durham that has been involved has shown up.
We start with an abbreviated game of pub trivia. The team I am drafted onto finishes third and the stacked team of Stanford and Durham academics wins. Clearly the game was rigged!
I break my prohibition on drinking anything but beer and have some scotch telling people I need to get in shape for next week’s scotch tasting tour.
A good time is had by all and slowly we say our goodbyes and break up.
My night does not end well as I find myself in the middle of another boy/girl drama in my house that takes most of the night to bring to a conclusion. Not what I wanted my final memory of the dig to be.

About the images:

1. Deep in the heart of The Pit of Mystery.
2. Before we can close up there is lots of planning that needs to be done.
3. "My Thing" revealed.
4. For the last time, Peter gives his "What It All Means" talk with a twirly stick.

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