Notes from the Field: Weeks 1 and 2

The opening of a field season is always busy, and this year proved to be no exception. In our first two weeks of work, the team focused mostly on setup, laying out gridlines and placing sandbags around the perimeter of new excavation units. We recovered some artifacts, too. Here’s a brief overview:

Week 1: August 5-9

The opening week of the 2013 field season saw the team gathering supplies and readying R/V Jones Bay for diving. Once divers were in the water, they started laying gridlines over the pile and labeling new units nearby (246, 255-271).  The grid system not only aids the archaeologists in meticulously mapping in each artifact on the site plan, but the numbered squares also help divers to figure out where they are on those particularly low-visibility days.  Another new feature for this season is a set of white buoys attached to the ring of Anchor 2 (A2).  It’s yet another assurance of relative location when you descend into the murky water.  It’s nice to know where you are!

Billy Ray, Chris, Nathan and Julep all came up from Fort Fisher and were joined by Dave from Maritime Museum and Shanna from the QAR lab. Our four technicians, Laurel, Danny, B.J. and Matt were aided in their work by interns Greg, Jeremy and Jeneva. Although the weather was a bit overcast, the team managed to get four diving days on site and accomplished much!

Week 2: August 12-16

The team ushered in the second week by placing sandbags around the perimeter of new excavation units we intend to excavate in 2013.  Also, as part of an ongoing corrosion study, Danny and BJ located the artifacts anchor A2, cannon C-6, C-7, and C-8, which had all been outfitted with sacrificial zinc anodes.  They drilled through the concretion to expose bare metal, and using an electrode, they measured each artifact’s pH and corrosion potential, the figures for which will hopefully reflect that the anodes are performing as they should be in slowing down active corrosion.  The electrodes’ cables were connected to meters being monitored by conservators, Shanna and I, on the deck of the Jones Bay.

Even though we lost two days to bad weather, I used that time to my advantage, instructing a couple of our fearless interns. Jeremy and Jeneva, on how to process dredge spoil and seek out the small artifacts that are commonly found hiding in the sediment. Upon returning to site on Thursday, divers began removing ballast stones concreted to the pile, with the hopes that we can understand how to go about separating the large artifacts from each other. On Friday, we raised two cannon, C-26 and C-27, both two-pounders which had only been located in the previous field season. They were delivered to the lab and are currently keeping each other company in the same tank. We also had to say our goodbyes to one of our interns, Jeneva.  She was such a great part of the team, and we will all miss her!

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