Monday, May 18, 2015

Vindolanda 2015 Day Six Mud Slinging

After last week's idyllic weather a certain amount of karmic payback was inevitable.  In wooden writing tablets unearthed in the deep, mysterious anaerobic levels here at Vindolanda the Roman soldiers complained about the weather, and it must be admitted that they have a point.  Today we had brilliant sunshine, driving rain, a couple of brief hailstorms.  Yuk.

My assignment this week is in fact being part of a team that is working the deep layers for the first time this season.  Last year the teams found great stuff preserved down in the dark, smelly mud.....a set of wooden bowls, a wagon wheel, a few precious writing tablets and what is felt to be the world's oldest wooden toilet seat.

Of course at season's end things were just left to sit.  The low lying area filled back up with water and Nature took over to some extent.  Our assignment as pioneers for the 2015 season involved pumping out water, clearing out down fall from the walls, and dealing with Mother Nature.  Algae had to be scraped off of features, weeds plucked.  At least one frog had to be relocated!

Here is the area after our first loose clean.  The wooden posts of a Second Century AD structure are marked with white tags.  They are in rows because this was a "wattle and daub" wall.  Posts were driving in.  Flexible sticks were woven between them.  Clay was packed into the space between two (or is it here three) such fencings and you had a wall.  Not all of ancient Rome was towering marble monuments after all.

It is wet, mucky work and in constrained work space.  Here you can see some of the weeds that have not been pulled yet.

Water keeps seeping into the site.  This has been a problem for a very long time.  Here we see a somewhat later (Severan era?) drain that crosses the site.

Lots of work today, and some dodging of weather.  So no finds of a remarkable nature on our side of the trench.  We did find several pounds of amphora fragments.  These sturdy Roman storage vessels have always been popular for repairing road surfaces and part of what we were clearing next to the drain was one of those.  But in the trench just next to us they had better luck...

First shoe of the season.  Vindolanda has an extensive collection of these, perhaps the world's largest assemblange of Roman footwear.

On to unknown layers tomorrow.  If the weather cooperates.  The forecast is dire, the sort of  stuff that would make an ancient Roman curse all of the many deities he worshipped!

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