Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Vindolanda 2014 Day Eight

The battle against the mud continued in the early part of our day, but dry skies and a nice breeze helped a great deal.  Also our Dutch team member fashioned a clever drainage canal that diverted some of the ground seepage.  Dutchies have always been clever at that sort of thing.

But it was still heavy work in the morning session, "a bit of hard graft" as our Scottish friends would say.

Then a minor miracle happened.  We carved our way down to a layer of firm, water repelling stuff.  This is the long sought "laminate", a compressed layer of organic stuff.  Twigs, boards, bones.  Other stuff we do not want to think too much about.

The following are some pictures of artifacts we found down deep, they come up immaculate.  And, some wooden stuff.  Sure, wood may seem boring, but keep in mind that the last time daylight hit this stuff was 18 centuries ago.  (Maybe 19, we need to find a nice coin for dating purposes.  And we will, oh yes, we will).

The above is a bit of Roman glass.

You don't dig this stuff in the usual fashion.  We put one excavator down into the "active layers".  He or she cuts squares of the laminate which when dry is something like felt.  Two wheel barrows are perched above and mats of laminate are picked apart by bare hands.  It seems excessive but recall that the real prize to be sought are the famous wooden writing tablets.  These "Post It Notes" of the ancient world contain information that can't be found anywhere else.  But they are so very, very fragile that bashing about with shovels or even trowels can destroy them.

So we crush and crumble the lumps, looking for that elusive little rectangle of thin wood.  I thought, just maybe, that I had one today.....

I was told, "Good eye", the right size and material but this is just a little bit too thick, and one side should be polished a bit smoother.  Keep looking.

For the next two days - and the weather is forecast to be glorious - that is just what I shall do.

1 comment:

Borepatch said...

No surprise that a Dutchman figured out drainage. My favorite history professor Back In The Day wrote a fascinating book on how Holland started out, The Medieval Frontier". It was full of hydrolic advances.