Tag Archives: CRM Archaeology

That Field Isn’t Going to Walk Itself.

Standing Water in an Ag Field.

As I rest at home in PA, I keep looking back on the past month where I worked on three different projects. It was a good month and I really enjoyed working with the crew that I had. They’re just good people who are good at their jobs and good to hang out with. That can really make a crappy project go by fast.

One of the nice things about working with a crew is being able to talk with people with similar experiences. CRM Archaeology is a very tight field, and we have a very niche existence. It’s nice to share stories, swap advice, and learn from one another about how to survive in the field. One thing we always come back to is how no one really knows what or who we are.

Most people think we’re construction workers. Usually, because we have to wear certain things in the field, hard-hats, safety-vests, work-boots or muck-boots (often steal-toe). We’re usually covered in mud and dirt, and most of us don’t really put on our Sunday best to crawl around in the field. It’s understandable and I don’t get irritated by it.

I do like the moment though, when talking to the people we encounter at gas stations and the like, is the moment of reveal when I tell them I’m an archaeologist. They usually look surprised, and then excited, and then they ask me if I found dinosaurs or gold or aliens…but whatever, it’s still fun.

It’s also difficult to explain to people, in the five minutes I’m talking to them while I wait for the bathroom, what all CRM is and does. It’s probably not what they’re thinking, and I don’t have time to explain it all.

First off. I’m probably not excavating anything, and I’m not looking for anything specific. (unless I am, but that’s few and far between outside of the academic circles. I’m not an academic btw, nothing against academics.) What I probably doing is some version of a phase one survey where I’m really just walking around, in a systematic way, looking for things, often digging holes on a grid.

Simply, I go where no archaeologist has gone…probably in a long time or before…and then I dig some holes!

A Nice Place to Dig.

The reason for this is, we need to sample the area, and unless we can see the surface of the ground without grass or crops or trees, we have to dig to see what’s below the surface. This gives us the added advantage of finding a buried horizon, which is soil stratigraphy out of order (yes there’s an order). That can indicate human involvement, so we like to keep an eye out for that.

And yes were also looking for artifacts of all kinds, not just prehistoric…but also prehistoric…

A possible scraper, or chert core.

There’s as debate/rivalry between the historic and the prehistoric people…and it’s mostly a joke…mostly…

Anyway, if we find stuff, awesome! But most of the time we don’t. It’s not a loss though. The point of phase one is to see if there’s something there, and how else can you find it if you don’t go looking.

Now sometimes, we don’t have to dig right away. Sometimes we just walk.

And yes you can find things by just walking a plowed or newly harvested field. I actually prefer this because it’s very satisfying to look behind you after you’ve walked a few rows back and forth and see a cluster of flags where a potential site might be. It’s also a little more of a group project, so you can see all your coworkers and sometimes talk to them while you walk. It’s like, getting paid to hike.

Point base.

After that though, we dig…this is for the same reasons as before. We’re looking at the soils. Though agricultural field soils can be…sticky sometimes.

The clay in this field was…challenging.

Then, of course, there’s the times when we need to see what the soil really look like, like deep down below the surface at a depth no digger should dig alone. This is called deep testing or trenching, and its what it sounds like, we dig a nice deep trench into the area and examine the stratigraphy and keep an eye out for features in the soil that could be traces of human occupation. To do this, we use special equipment.

Yes that’s a backhoe.

I am always impressed with the skill of the backhoe operators I’ve worked with. Somehow I’ve lucked out and worked primarily with people who know what they’re doing and used their machine like an instrument of art. I’m always impressed at how well they can scrape back just a little soil at a time, and keep everything flat and even. I also desperately want to drive the backhoe, but they never let me…like you need to know how or something…

The two biggest things about trenching is watching what the bucket is doing, and keeping an eye on your back dirt. You don’t need to screen every bit of the dirt, but it’s a really good idea to sample it regularly and shovel through it routinely as the backhoes goes. You never know what’s going to pop up.

Screen and sort your back-dirt!

And then, that’s it. That’s phase one, at least everywhere but the West. They hike a lot there I hear, and you know what, more power to them. 10+ miles a day sounds…fun…yeah…fun…

I work where it’s muggy and there’s groundwater, mosquitoes, and ticks. That’s home, that’s fun. Nothing like something the size of your freckly being a lethal vector.

I digress (kill all ticks).

I like working in the woods, especially around old farms and such. It’s always interesting to see what people do with their land, or what they perceive as their land. It’s a great way to study humanity, society, and modern culture. It can be quirky, it can be scary, it can be sad. It can just be plain weird sometimes.

Tree inside a tire. Nature doesn’t care.
And just in case you were wondering, phase threes have their moments too.

If you’d like to support the Podcast or site, consider donating to us on Patreon or buy us a  Ko-Fi. Either option helps us out.

Check out Jeb Card’s new book Spooky Archaeology : 
Myth and the Science of the Past

And Ken Feder’s new book Archaeological Oddities: A Field Guide to Forty Claims of Lost Civilizations, Ancient Visitors, and Other Strange Sites in North America

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Remix – Atlantis in Sardinia with Dr. Emily Holt – Archaeological Fantasies ep 107

Nuraghe Santu Antine in Torralba
Cristiano Cani picture via Wiki Commons.

Note: there was an issue with the Audio file. This is a repost of episode 107.

Today we are talking with Dr. Emily Holt from Miami University in Ohio. We learn about the Nuraghe civilization, the fantastic towers they built, and how all this is connected to Atlantis. Dr. Holt also gives us details on her summer field school, which focuses on CRM techniques, that is open for enrollment.

Dr. Emily Holt:

Twitter: @Emily_M_Holt 
and @ScholarOutreach

School Bio Page:

Personal Blog:

ERRANT: letters from an itinerant archaeologist

Ask an Archaeologist: Dr. Emily Holt, Zooarchaeologist

Contact Dr. Holt if you are interested in participating in her feild school this summer. holtem2@miamioh.edu

Field School Link to Apply:
Miami University Field Methods in Archaeology: Pran’e Siddi Landscape Project

Articles on Atlantis in Sardinia:

Was Sardinia home to Atlantis? – by Sarah Griffiths on Daily Mail.

Was Sardinia home to the mythical civilization of Atlantis? – by Florence Evin on the Guardian website.

Review of Ancient Aliens S13E08 “Island of the Giants” by Jason Colavito

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Check out Jeb Card’s new book Spooky Archaeology : 
Myth and the Science of the Past

And Ken Feder’s new book Archaeological Oddities: A Field Guide to Forty Claims of Lost Civilizations, Ancient Visitors, and Other Strange Sites in North America

Contact us below or leave a comment.

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Hi! I’m an archaeologist who likes games, video games, gaming, horror, the supernatural, and debunking pseudoarchaeology. Check out my vids for more on the above topics, and toss us a coin if you like what I do.
Twitter – @ArchyFantasies
IG – @ArchyFantasies
Emai – ArchyFantasies@gmail.com. 

An Update from Field

Or rather it will be.

Lots of high energy things have been going on here at ArchyFantasies Central. Unfortunately, between all of that and a massive attack of writers block, I haven’t posted in a while. Sorry for that.

However, we’re going to get back on track!

For those keeping count, I’ve got my classes all straightener out, got a massive lit review to write, plus a 6 week field school that is going to start in about two weeks…that hasn’t sunk in yet.

I’ll be blogging from the field, as much as I’m able. Hopefully we’ll find some interesting information. I think I get to play with the ground penetrating radar, and some magnetometry and resistivity testing. Should be a ton of fun.

I figure I got one more week to build up my stores of posts, and then we’ll resume regular postings in the beginning of May.

May is a big month, stick with me!

To tide you over listen to the newest CRM Archaeology Posdcast Ep 6!

Flu, Podcasts, and Screaming into the Void: Weekly Round-Up 2/24/2013

I’m sure you’ve all been wondering where I’ve been. (you have, haven’t you? I’m not just screaming into a black, soulless void am I?) Let’s just say, don’t put your Flu shots off any longer then you have to, cause the flu sux balz.

So after a week filled with all the joys of the Flu, I can finally eat again and stay awake longer then 20 min at a time. The good news is that I can now get back to work on my neglected blog. The bad  news is that I’m really behind on posting. That said, this time I am really going to get caught up…really…I mean it this time!



Until then I want to leave you with something enjoyable, and that would be the second episode of the awesome new podcast I am involved in, CRM Archaeology. In this episode we talk about Open Access in archaeology and there are six of us on the podcast this time, including a special guest, Eric Kansa from UC Berkeley and the Alexandria Archive Institute.  Also, the podcast is now available on Stitcher as well as ITunes, or at the website link, whichever. (Stitcher is cooler.)

Anyway, look for our regularly scheduled blog posts to resume shortly, and check out the podcast while you wait!