Archaeology! It’s all about the toys â€¦

Written by Michele Greenan, Natural History Collections Manager, and Gaby Kienitz, Textile Conservator

We hereby christen this the maiden voyage of our fabulous new dig-mobile! We set sail Tuesday afternoon with the sun at our backs and the wind in our hair. With the Admiral and his trusted crew, the ship sailed safely to its harbor off the shores of the mighty Ohio …

Gaby tries out the new equipment.

We had all the toys — ooops! We mean equipment — loaded inside to set up the Yankeetown site for two weeks of exploration. Good thing we have all this equipment, because we needed it.

As it turned out, the bridge to get to the site was closed! The only way to traverse it was via a quad (the one we purchased came accessorized with a Canuck).

The trailer and quad easily made it to the site, where we set up our area for this season’s excavations. This was a bit more trouble than anticipated. Lots of flooding over the last two years (when we last excavated at this location) has greatly altered the landscape and most of our location markers were long gone! Thankfully, we were able to find and use one of our permanent markers, hidden below some 6 or 7 inches of newly deposited sediment.

The quad and the trailer were not our only toys; we made use of a generously-loaned backhoe and operator to remove the thick, top layer of dirt that did not contain artifacts. Otherwise, we would have had to do a huge amount of shoveling under a cloudless sky with witheringly high humidity and heat that drenches you in sweat by 8 a.m.

We also spent time driving around cavernously bumpy mud-track roads along the edges of farm fields looking for alternate routes into the site. But the storms were coming! Luckily, we were able to go back to our excavation area and cover our freshly opened trenches with plastic sheeting before being chased back to the trucks by lighting strikes.

From the Yankeetown dig … until next time!

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