shovel test pits

A Day of Archaeology on the MARBAL 2017 Project

Disclaimer: This post is a time-stamped “day in the life” of MARBAL (Mortuary Archaeology of the Râmeț Bronze Age Landscape) co-director Jess Beck, and is brought to you by approximately 17 cups of coffee.

6:40 am: Consume first two cups of coffee. Begin analyzing bones in home lab.

8:53 am: Two cups of coffee later, head out the door for the museum. Demolish  breakfast of Cascaval, bread, and delicious Romanian red peppers that project member Emilie Cobb thoughtfully prepared for me.

9:24 am: Arrive at our collaborator Horia Ciugudean’s lab at the National Museum of the Union. Emilie begins size-sorting fragments, while I finish entering  data on an adolescent pair of scapulae, clavicles, and innominates.

10:53 am: I continue my analysis, moving on to the fragmentary adolescent cranium. Please notice the binder clip I have fetchingly clipped to my shirt so that I do not lose track of it.

12:25 pm: The most important meal of the day! Cookie break as we pack up for the field.
The MOST important meal of the day
12:46 pm: Make a brief detour to the train station to procure tickets for our trip back to Budapest on Monday.

1:13 pm: Stock up on field snacks at local supermarket.

Important healthy snacks
1:33 pm: En route from the train station in Alba Iulia to our field site in the mountains. I nurse my current thermos of coffee on the ride.

Alba --> Teius

2:17 pm: Arrive at field site to find it only SLIGHTLY more glorious than morning lab setting.

2:47 pm: Project co-director Colin Quinn begins putting in shovel test pits.

4:06 pm: Colin bemoans not taking a charcoal sample two years ago after we hit multiple sterile test pits.

4:11 pm: After being (foolishly) entrusted with making a sketch map of our STPs, it becomes clear that I do not in fact know where North is.

5:01 pm: After a rough half-hour of realizing our own limitations, we switch locations, and begin putting in a 1mx1m to examine the profile of an area in which a modern road cuts through an Early Bronze Age tomb.

The 1x1
5:07 pm: Colin teaches Emilie how to package a charcoal sample.

6:15 pm: After taking some closing photos, we stock up on glamour selfies and pack out.

6:30 pm: Important car snacks are consumed in celebration of a stratigraphically informative 1×1.

7:30 pm: Return to the house to shower, eat, and load and label photos from the day. Next up: publishing this post, and then immediately copying this Romanian buddy I spotted yesterday:

Kimberlee S. Moran – Whispering Woods Phase II with Rutgers-Camden

Over the past 12 months I have had the privilege of introducing a class of Rutgers-Camden undergraduate students to archaeological fieldwork through a CRM project in Salem Co, NJ. Whispering Woods consists of 9 registered site ranging from Middle Woodland through to 20th century. Over the course of two semesters, students were introduced to key concepts in archaeology through a series of fun, hands-on activities. For instance, we learned about stratigraphy by “excavating” dirt cake in which several features and “artifacts” (gummy bones, candy coins and bottles) had been deposited. We constructed a timeline of human history where 1cm equaled 10 years, resulting in over 30 ft of images of artifacts, archaeological sites, and works of art depicting key events and cultures. We practiced mapping, plan drawings, and analyzed each other through the material culture of our personal affects.

The highlight of the class was the 7 weeks each semester that we spent in the field. Most of our work concentrated on high-density shovel tests, though a small number of excavation units were excavated. The students enthusiastically tackled every weekly session and it was clear that they truly enjoyed class, the physical labor, and each other’s company. Their excitement at finding lumps of rusted metal, broken glass, or fragments of brick was equal to that of finding gold! It was a joy to spend time with every one of them. I was especially proud of the class during our “Open Day” – a Saturday afternoon they freely gave up to host the local community at our site, supervise the public as they excavated two of our units, and share with our visitors what doing archaeology meant to them. A blog of our class and the Whispering Woods project can be found at I am indebted to Ani Hatza, Tovah Mitchell, Alex Denning, and Jennifer Falchetta for their help co-supervising the class.

Kimberlee Sue Moran, MSc, RPA
Department of Sociology, Anthropology, & Criminal Justice

Rutgers University
311 N. 5th Street, room 352
Camden, NJ 08102

phone: (+1)856-203-0687