I have been posting a bit about baseball of late, this being the season when teams are in training camp trying to loosen up the muscles and tune up the skills.
Same for me, as I anticipate my annual trip to Vindolanda to dig for detritus of the Roman Empire.
I am strong of back and resolute of purpose, so have never really had any problems lifting things-wheelbarrows, spades, pints-so for me Archeology Spring Training is mostly getting the legs in shape for a no-car trip. Oh, and training in the eyes.
Long walks are the best for both. Up and down hills, spouse in tow when possible. It is a marvelous time of year when the snow and slush melts, punctuated by those dispiriting late winter blizzards.
But I keep my eyes constantly scanning the ground, looking for.....well, for anything out of the ordinary. Because you just can't always be sure what it is you are supposed to be finding at a place like Vindolanda. Anything can and does pop up if you keep troweling long enough.
But a few basics to tune the scanners on to:
Bronze. It has a distinctive patina when it ages. It will even stain the earth around a bronze artifact which is an excellent warning to scrape slowly and carefully. The magic color looks like this:
Mostly what you will encounter is small stuff, camouflaged among various rocks and pebbles. Here is some good practice:
Here is another problem found on archaeological sites. Multiple layers of road surfacing. In this case partially obliterating an inscription. I can make out BOB and perhaps SAY. Sometimes you can only figure out so much.
All this may seem a little silly, but let me assure you, toss a coin and a plastic sabre tooth on the ground alongside each other and come back in a few centuries. Guess which one will in all probability still be identifiable!
For more on this important but frankly sobering topic visit The Flotsam Diaries a blog on ubiquitous plastic as chronicled by one of my fellow Vindolanda diggers.