Our Amazing Archaeological Find
The survey involved digging test units, small, precisely-measured squares at 50-foot intervals in this case. An archaeological survey can help professionals know if they are digging in the right area. The thinking behind it is that if a feature, such as a building wall, or some artifacts, such as pottery sherds, are found in a location, that may be the place to excavate further.
Digging in the rain, not to mention hard clay, was challenging indeed. I stuck with the paperwork times four: record sheets on my clipboard, brown paper artifact bags properly labelled, an artifact tag inside the bag listing the shovel test unit (STU), layer of stratigraphy and date, along with the same notes in my field notebook. Petya focused on the manual labor.
I was eternally grateful.
Wherever the surveyors placed a flag, we came behind to excavate there. Once, a flag was moved for certain logistical reasons, but the old flag was not picked up. My son and I did not receive the memo on that one and we started to dig.
The chief archaeologist on the site spotted us and explained that we were in the wrong location.
“But, you know what? Just go ahead and finish up the unit. There’s no way you could have known that we had shifted the test pit.”
Then, in the middle of our morning at the site, a face peered up at me from the screen full of dirt:
It looked like George Washington in profile. Maybe someone had dropped a decorative button?
No – wait—the date was—1780-! And the coin was a Spanish real in mint condition. Very rare to not see any extreme wear or tear, and of course, many of these coins were cut up to give “change” whenever needed. It was whole, and it was in great condition.
We took it over to the pros who informed us how rare it was to find such a well-preserved coin from over 230 years ago.
That was our five minutes of fame, when we were the toast of the shovel test units way out in our remote locale. All of the mud, rain, and wind was worth it.
————-Tags: archaeological shovel test units, discovering a coin over 230 years old, our archaeological find, shovel test pits, Spanish real coin, Survey I archaeology