Thursday, May 4, 2017

Vindolanda 2017 Day Four

Generally speaking archeology is a mixture of "features" and "small finds".  The former are walls, pits, roadways.  The latter are the fun stuff, coins, jewelry, bits and bobs.

Of course we should be delighted with "features".  But some part of us really wants to find things.  It is our nature.

But there are consolations.  On my fourth straight day of Features and no Finds it was an enjoyable bit of work.  Perfect weather, good company, and a Feature that we actually got to excavate completely.  And even - more or less - come to understand.

Now, when I start to speculate on things be aware that mine is an uneducated opinion, colored liberally by ideas with scant substance but which amuse me on some level. So, back to our cement floor.

Here is my best End of Day picture.  In the foreground is the nice patch of Opus Sig - to call it in the digging vernacular - that swell white cement that made us think we were in the bathing suite of the commanding officer of the fort.  Way at the far end there was another smaller patch, so certainly it was going to be Op Sig all the way...

Nope.  Across from left to right and just past the good cement there appears to be the foundation for a wall.  Not a round house as previously suspected.  Beyond is a floor surface that is mostly not real cement, more of a compacted surface of pebbles with just a smear of white cement in one spot.  And to the right of it?  The rugged remains of another wall. This probably lines up with the remaining wall seen out beyond our structure.

Below is another view just showing the area we cleared today.

It looks as if there was a larger room with a nice cement floor.  At some point later on it was cut up, a wall put across the top edge and the right side of the brown pebbly surface you can see above.  There is one solitary patch of decent cement that you can see here.  The remainder is crummy stuff, compacted brown dirt, pebbles and in places a sickly yellow degraded cement.

As to when this happened it is hard to be sure.  It would have been great to find a coin on this floor to allow us to date it exactly.  But there was nothing to be found but the occasional nail and a few bits of bashed up pottery.

And as to why?  What would prompt somebody to subdivide a nice room and redo it in shoddy materials?  It was not an obviously impoverished era in Roman history...the Antonine Emperors ran things fairly well, thanks.

Maybe the answer is more personal.  Every decade or so the fort would get a new commander.  We know from extant writing tablets that they would bring their wives along.  Maybe the commander, or his fine lady, just had horrible taste!

With this project done it is off to a new assignment tomorrow.  Details by and by..

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