So, now we are almost done. On Wednesday we went to fill up the trenches. A sad feeling. This place had been our home for three weeks for the B-students and six weeks for the master students, and our three international students Karl, Tyron and Peter. The excavation started when it still was cold, rainy and windy, and the frosty ground made it impossible to dig deep. Fortunately, the weather turned into full summer with sunny and warm days, sometimes even too warm, and we tried to shadow the trenches with parasols.
Photo 1. Waiting for Andreas before the last morning meeting at the site, right before we started to fill up the trenches. Photo by Ibrahim M.
The soil around our small hill looked like a dried-out desert when we arrived, and the trenches were also dry. They had stayed open to the air for more than a week. We took a last look at them and then started to throw back the big stones into the trenches and to shovel down the big piles of sand, clay, gravel and stones from the digging and sifting. Soon there was nothing left to see from our excavations in the trenches, and we finished by putting back the turf on top of it all. Kristina felt honored, as the oldest student, to be the one who put back the last piece of turf. It felt very much as the end of a very special era in our studies, though they are still ongoing until Friday.
Photo 2. Even though the job was hard, everyone kept their spirits up and were happy to work hard. Photo by Ibrahim M.
Then we had to bring back the tools and clean them. Since the filling really went well and we were ready three hours before appointed time, we could take a long lunch. For some the last meal on the site. The teachers were impressed by our organization of this part of the work. Everything went so smooth and we cooperated well. Something we learnt while digging. We, the B-students, really appreciate the supervision we got from the master students during the excavation. It felt as if we got a good insight and understanding of what an excavation is about. What is and is not important. At first you are very careful and afraid to spoil the layers by digging too deep or too fast and you examine every object you find as something really rare, even if most of them show up to be stones in the end. You are afraid of doing anything by yourself and you ask about everything. And it takes a long time to learn how to fill in the different kinds of documentation. Some in the end have had to be revised indoors, since a lot of information were accidentally neglected to be filled in.
Photo 3. This sherd of ceramic was the last object to be found on site as Ibrahim found it when we where filling the trenches back in. Photo by Ibrahim M.
Back at the university we have been working hard to be able to get the reports in order for Friday. We are running around like ants in an anthill chasing the information we need and googling for facts we need. It is a very special situation to get 30 people to work as a unit. It looks like chaos but there might be a plan. Now we understand why it is so important to be exact with all the information. We have photographed all the finds as well as counted and weighed all the finds in the same bag and put it in the right box depending on the trench it belonged to. We have gone through all the contexts and filled in missing information and compared them to the GPS-data and the 3D-models of the trenches and special constructions in them. Along from the written reports we will also give oral reports to the others, as groups have worked in four different fields; finds, photos, contexts and GIS.
Photo 4. Peter and Anna teaching Ibrahim how to use Agisoft Photoscan to build 3D models of the trenches. Photo by Tyron.
Thoughts from our international students:
Karl (USA): “Having previously done excavations back home in the US, working here was not all that different. Yet I was faced with many new aspects that helped to build my understanding of archaeology. Much of the differences lay in the terminology, types of finds, and how they are discussed and dealt with, once the excavation has been finished. There are many things that are universal about archaeology but how artefacts are described is markedly different when travelling to different countries. Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia seem to go about their terms and details in their own unique way, which makes for interesting interactions. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed participating with Swedish archaeology. It has given me new perspectives on the field and provided new outlooks for my future excavations.”
Tyron (South Africa): “Excavating here in Sweden has been a rewarding and interesting process in terms of gaining perspective on how things are done around here. The geology and stratigraphy were both new to me making the unravelling of the various contexts an interesting undertaking.”
Peter (Canada): “I’ve had a great time working on my first archaeological dig in Sweden. The biggest difference between doing fieldwork here and in Canada is how much older the finds are. In Eastern Canada most excavations are concerned with European settlements dating back to the 17th century at the earliest, with most earlier indigenous settlements having been lost to changing coastlines. IT was very exciting to work on a site with more than a millennium of human history with finds ranging from the Viking period to the 20th century. It’s also been interesting to see the differences and similarities between the methods and approaches to archaeology and how although the vocabulary is different, the methods are still mostly the same.”
Ibrahim och Kristina