Grid lines being laid out at Locus 3, the cemetery. The cracked urn in the foreground is one of four visible on the surface. These visible artifacts vaguely approximate how large the cemetery is and dictates where test pits should be started.
By Andrew Califf
Insects writhe and scurry among the fallen detritus and lopped leaves litter the overgrown landscape. Banana trees tower above us as we clear some of the sites the McCaffertys previously excavated on the Salablanca family property.
After laying out new grid lines near three burial urns visible on the surface, we first break dirt at Locus 3 in our planned shovel test pit located within a seemingly large burial complex. Burial urns and pottery sherds litter the surface and the four shovel test pits do not disappoint.
Two pits yield teeth and a few bone fragments and all of the pits were filled with a myriad of ceramic pieces. These pieces include a variety of patterns, textures and shapes. One was a zoomorphic face.
This is the first time many of the students actually uncover an artifact in the field. Such a rich site leads to multiple great first experiences.
“It’s an indescribable feeling. I think it’s something you can picture in your head and you can mentally prepare for,” Lachlan Robinson explains through a constant smile, “but peeling back that layer of dirt with your trowel and seeing that white layer of pottery or that tooth puts you on top of the world. It’s unmatched.”
This is Robinson’s first experience excavating in the field and he realizes many students rarely uncover human remains within the first 8 cm.