zondag 27 maart 2011

Lost and found

Trench B, natural soil
After two weeks of excavation, we have reached the natural soil in the three trenches. Our fears were justified and it now appears that the occupation layers have been heavily disturbed by the agricultural activities of the late 20th century.
As often in tropical climate and especially on the top of a hill, the stratigraphy is very shallow. The monsoon rains wash the soil away and the anthropomorphic layers do not go much deeper than 30-40cm below the modern ground level.
The consequence for us is that the ancient occupation layers have been completely turned upside down when the area was ploughed. The material of 5 centuries of human activities has been mixed up in one thick (modern) layer. Fortunately, the material has not been moved over long distances, since pieces from a single ceramic are often found close to each other. Some areas are clearly richer in archaeological material than others. The top of the hill, where our trench A is located, has yielded very few ceramics in comparison with the two other trenches, in trench B traces of metal working activities have been detected. Among the lost and found in this thick disturbed layer, we have orange and blue beads, Chinese ceramics (mostly fragments of bowls and dishes), earthenware sherds (of jars, cooking pots, lids, kendis etc.), obsidian, Neolithic adzes, iron slag, brick fragments etc. 

Neolithic adze
 Glass bead

Below the disturbed layer, a good surprise was awaiting us though: traces of postholes (in trench A) and even the lower part of a post (in trench B). We finally have physical proof of the existence of a building on our hill! The coming week, we will extend the trenches and open new excavation areas in the hope of finding more post(hole)s.
Base of a wooden post