Monday, May 1, 2017

Vindolanda 2017 Day One

As anticipated I am working my way through some internet challenges.  Posting may or may not follow actual days of digging.

It was good to come back.  Familiar faces.  More or less familiar spots on the site, places where I had excavated last year, or years earlier that now look much different. 

Every year when you show up you have a different job assignment.  This year the theme, at least at the start of week one, is find the cement.

Yes, cement.  

The Romans made stuff called "Opus Signinum" out of mortar and crushed tile/pottery. It has held up very well over time, I will post a few monumental examples when in Rome.  But to find this upscale stuff on a distant frontier fort is, shall we say, atypical.

But here it is:

It is not something that turns up just anywhere.  It would only be found in what the Time Team crew would refer to as a "High Stay-tus Building".  Such as, speculatively, the home of the Fort Commander, circa 200 AD.

What you see above is at the west end of a building.  It appears to peek out at another area 20 feet away.  Our job on a fine sunny Monday was to trace it, connecting up the two ends and perhaps along the way finding.....

Well the stuff is supposed to be water proof, so there was some enthusiasm for this being a pool or part of a private bath.  Maybe it would have an underfloor heating system.  Or whatever, it is so rarely found on site that you just can't tell.

So off we go.  The area in the center is my patch.  You can see the Opus Sig as the white band in the foreground.  The brownish layer is some kind of sub flooring, it was soft and easy to trowel back.  The stones, oh, surely just a bit of random rock.

Mid day.  The random looking rocks appear to be getting organized, almost trying to be a half circle.  Well, they need to be explored a bit more.  

And end of day.  To the left and to the right, fairly bland, soft sub flooring material. And right down the middle...a dense cluster of stones in no particular order but with fairly defined edges.  What does it mean?

Practically speaking it means two things.

1. Time to sleep on it.  In the morning the Wise will have a ruling for us.  Explore further or take it out.

2. We did not make much headway on exposing our Roman cement floor.

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