Archaeology Excavation project

 

ARCH106 Project 1: The Sheepen Excavations

 

Grades: The final project is worth 100 points (20% of your final grade).

Late Policy: Any project that is turned in after 9:30 am on the due date will be penalized at a rate of 10 points per day. Computer and

printing problems will NOT be accepted as valid excuses for late work. Be sure to backup your work and to print the day before the paper

is due in order to avoid these problems.

Assignment: Sheepen is the name of a real farm that once stood on the outskirts of modern Colchester, England. In 1929 the national

government acquired the property for the construction of a major new highway leading out of the modern city. Archaeologists C. F. C.

Hawkes and M. R. Hull quickly organized and were able to conduct intermittent excavations between 1930 and 1939 in an attempt to salvage

information before the construction of the road destroyed all evidence of past activities. They discovered several sites during these

excavations, including Site A4, the site from which I have adapted this project. Site A4 was located just north of a Roman-period road

that led about a mile away into Colonia Victriciensis, the Latin name for Roman-era Colchester. In antiquity the site was only loosely

connected to Colchester and the military used it only briefly. A little west of Site A4, not shown on the plan (Fig. 2), was an excellent

spring used by local sheep farmers until 1929 and presumably by the Romans as well. The excavation of Site A4 caused quite a sensation at

the time as nowhere else in Colchester or in England has an archaeological site produced so many military artifacts.

Your assignment is to imagine that you were the primary investigator of the excavations at the A4 Sheepen site. Using your knowledge of

Roman pottery sequences, architecture, the military, the history and archaeology of Colchester (consult the de la Bédoyère textbook for

details on Colchester) as well as the evidence presented here about the features, artifacts, and ecofacts from the site, fill in the

worksheets below. TYPE your answers in all boxes except those that have a grey background, the boxes will expand as you add text. Use

the Law of Superpostion to figure out the stratigraphy of the site and the Law of Association to figure out the dates of each stratum as

well as with which stratum each feature is associated.

You will hand in only the rubric worksheets at the end of this project, do not include the instructions or the images. You MUST staple

your work; I will deduct points for any student who fails to use a staple.

Key to Stratigraphy of Section 48 (Fig. 1)

For the location of this section, see the dashed arrow labeled “48” on the plan (Fig. 2).

Stratum I: Top soil devoid of artifacts. The only artifact Hawkes and Hull discovered was at the interface between Stratum I and Stratum

II, one piece of Central Gaulish terra sigillata.

Stratum II: Hawkes and Hull found the entire pit to be filled with sand that contained bits of charcoal and numerous pieces from Roman

armor and weapons. Some of these pieces appeared to have never been used and thus had probably never been attached to the shields, swords,

and helmets for which they were designed.

Stratum III: Sand devoid of artifacts.

Stratum IV: In this level Hawkes and Hull found a tremendous amount of charcoal mixed with sand. They also found pieces of southern

Gaulish terra sigillata, including one fragment dateable on stylistic grounds to the mid-Neronian period.

Stratum V: This stratum was incredibly rich in artifacts. Hawkes and Hull uncovered wooden beams arranged in the shape of a V that were

severely charred. They came across a pair of postholes for posts that would have supported the roof of the structure; they estimated that

there were two or three more posts for the roof, the evidence for which has not survived. They found no indication of smaller postholes

that would indicate some kind of wall structure. In the sandpit at this level south of the V-shaped structure they also excavated an

enormous amount of both bronze and iron slag as well as bits of scrap iron and bronze. Among this scrap were shavings from brass and iron

ingots as well as indistinct lumps of bronze and iron. Metal artifacts included nails, fragments of a Celtic knife and a Celtic iron hook

used in antiquity to suspend a cauldron over a fire, fittings for horse harnesses, rivets, mountings, and fittings for Roman armor and

helmets. Some of these pieces were unused while some seemed very worn and in need of repair. In addition, south of the V-shaped structure

Hawkes and Hull uncovered iron tongs, the remains of a small anvil, and the remains of five separate crucibles (Fig. 3). Curiously, they

did not uncover evidence of a furnace but they were certain it had to have been further to the west on land they were not permitted to

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excavate. Hawkes and Hull unearthed nine coins including an as of Tiberius, a coin of the native British king Tasciovanus, a coin of the

native British king Cunobelinus, a denarius of Antony and Octavian dating to c. 40 BCE, an as of Caligula, a sestertius of Claudius and

three asses of Claudius, one of which was dateable to 41 CE. Among the artifacts Hawkes and Hull identified many undateable fragments of

pottery in addition to numerous fragments of southern Gaulish terra sigillata. They uncovered two nearly complete southern Gaulish terra

sigillata bowls (Fig. 4). Based on the form of the leaf decorations, these can be securely dated to the mid-Neronian period. In

addition, Hawkes and Hull discovered five pieces of glass dateable to the Claudian era as well as three fragments of separate “millfiore”

glass vessels that can be securely dated to the late 50’s CE. Finally, the only faunal material from this level consisted of a horn of a

native Celtic shorthorn ox (Bos brachyceros).

Key to Features on Plan and Their Associated Artifacts (See Fig. 2)

Ditch II: Nearly 2 m across, Ditch II runs the entire length of the east side of the site. Further to the north, not shown on the plan,

the ditch abruptly stops as if it had never been completed. The ditch had been filled with sand and in the fill archaeologists found only

a few fragments of southern Gaulish terra sigillata and portions of a horse skull and teeth. Pits A23, A28 and A29 cut into the ditch and

its fill.

“Clavicula”: A clavicula is a common feature in 1st century CE Roman military architecture. It is a ditch that branches off from the

main ditch defending a camp at the point where the gate was located. The purpose of the clavicula was to force the enemy to charge

parallel to the lines of defense in the camp if they intended to storm the gate. In so doing, the enemy would expose their flanks to the

spears and arrows of the defenders. Just north of the point where the clavicula joins Ditch II there would have been a wooden bridge

across the Ditch II giving access to the fort, which would have been removed at the time of an attack. Like Ditch II, the clavicula had

been filled with sand that contained only a few fragments of southern Gaulish terra sigillata. Hawkes and Hull were so intrigued by Ditch

II and the clavicula that they looked for signs of a Roman fort south of Ditch II, the area that would have been the interior of the fort,

but found nothing. They concluded that a Roman military unit started building a fort but abandoned the project after only a day or two.

Feature A23: This pit cuts into the fill of Ditch II. Hawkes and Hull found the pit to be filled with sand that contained bits of

charcoal and numerous pieces from Roman armor and weapons. Some of these pieces appeared to have never been used and thus had probably

never been attached to the shields, swords, and helmets for which they were designed. In addition, there were remains of a number of

legionary helmets, one nearly complete, with little sign of wear.

Feature A24: Hawkes and Hull found this pit to be filled with sand that contained bits of charcoal and numerous pieces from Roman armor

and weapons. Some of these pieces appeared to have never been used and thus had probably never been attached to the shields, swords, and

helmets for which they were designed.

Feature A25: Hawkes and Hull found this pit to be filled with sand that contained bits of charcoal and numerous pieces from Roman armor

and weapons. Some of these pieces appeared to have never been used and thus had probably never been attached to the shields, swords, and

helmets for which they were designed.

Feature A26: Hawkes and Hull found this pit to be filled with sand that contained bits of charcoal and numerous pieces from Roman armor

and weapons. Some of these pieces appeared to have never been used and thus had probably never been attached to the shields, swords, and

helmets for which they were designed.

Feature A27: Hawkes and Hull found this pit to be filled with sand that contained bits of charcoal and numerous pieces from Roman armor

and weapons. Some of these pieces appeared to have never been used and thus had probably never been attached to the shields, swords, and

helmets for which they were designed. In addition, Hawkes and Hull discovered four complete legionary swords.

Feature A28: This pit cuts into the fill of Ditch II. Hawkes and Hull found a British penny with the date 1916, the nearly complete

skeletons of 4 sheep, and several fragments of glass, one inscribed “..ca-Cola”.

Feature A29: This pit cuts into the fill of Ditch II. Hawkes and Hull found the pit to be filled with sand that contained bits of

charcoal and numerous pieces from Roman armor and weapons. Some of these pieces appeared to have never been used and thus had probably

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never been attached to the shields, swords, and helmets for which they were designed.

Feature A4 (labeled “Site A4” on Fig. 1): This feature consists of a large, shallow pit dug into the sand. On the northern side of the

pit ran two trenches with thick wooden beams laid horizontally in the bottom forming a pair of low walls in a rough V shape. Presumably

the people who constructed these low walls intended for them to hold back the sand, Stratum III (see Fig. 2). At the entrance to the V-

shaped structure was a pair of wooden posts, set upright. These posts and the beams in the V-shaped structure were severely charred. For

the artifacts Hawkes and Hull found, consult the stratigraphic section (Fig. 1) and the key below.

Fig. 1: Stratigraphic Section 48 from site A4, part of the Sheepen site (Hawkes and Hull, 1947, p. 92).

 

Fig. 2: Plan of the Sheepen Site (Hawkes and Hull, 1947, p. 92).

 

 

 

Fig. 3: Clay crucibles found at the Sheepen site (Hawkes and Hull, 1947, p. 346).

 

Fig. 4: Decorated terra sigillata, form Dragendorff 29 (Hawkes and Hull, 1947, plate XXVII).

GRADING RUBRIC

Name:______________________________________________________

Print out this sheet and place it as the first page on your project. Fill in your name above but NOTHING in the grid below; that is for

me to fill out. The purpose of showing you this rubric is so that you will understand my expectations when I grade this project.
Strata Points
Student determined the proper sequence of strata, dated them correctly, provided evidence for those dates, and developed a

plausible interpretation for how each stratum was formed supported with evidence.
Student mostly determined the proper sequence of strata, dated some of them correctly, provided evidence for some of those dates,

and developed some plausible interpretations for how each stratum was formed supported with evidence.
Student struggled with the sequence of the strata, dating them correctly, providing evidence for stratum dates, and / or

developing a plausible interpretation for how each stratum was formed.
Features
Student determined the appropriate stratum correspondence and developed a plausible interpretation for the use of the feature

supported by evidence.
Student determined the appropriate stratum correspondence for most of the strata and developed a mostly plausible interpretation

for the use of the feature supported by evidence.
Student failed to determine the appropriate stratum correspondence and to develop a plausible interpretation for the use of the

feature supported by evidence.
Narrative
Student wrote a well-developed and coherent narrative interpreting all the evidence.
Student wrote a mostly well-developed and coherent narrative interpreting most of the evidence.
Student’s narrative needed more work to make it well-developed and coherent and to include all the evidence.
Spelling, Grammar, and Syntax in Narrative
Project had few spelling, grammar and / or syntax errors.
Project had a moderate number of spelling, grammar, and / or syntax errors.
Project had many spelling, grammar, and / or syntax errors; student should consult the Writing Center before handing in another

paper.
Comments (if necessary):

Letter Grade Total
(Late penalty, if applicable
-_____

 

WORKSHEETS

Use the Laws of Superposition and Association to fill out these worksheets. Do not write anything in the boxes with the grey backgrounds.

You do not need to answer the questions in complete sentences, a bulleted list is fine.
STRATA

Oldest Stratum:
Earliest Possible Date:
Latest Possible Date:

Evidence for Dates Earliest:
Latest:
How was the site used as this stratum formed? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

Next Oldest Stratum: Earliest Possible Date:
Latest Possible Date:

Evidence for Dates Earliest:
Latest:
How was the site used as this stratum formed? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

Next Oldest Stratum: Earliest Possible Date:
Latest Possible Date:

Evidence for Dates Earliest:
Latest:
How was the site used as this stratum formed? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

Next Oldest Stratum: Earliest Possible Date:
Latest Possible Date:

Evidence for Dates Earliest:
Latest:
How was the site used as this stratum formed? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

Youngest Stratum:
Earliest Possible Date: Latest Possible Date:
Evidence for Dates Earliest:
Latest:
How was the site used as this stratum formed? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

FEATURES

Ditch II
With which stratum / feature(s) is this feature contemporary?
What is your evidence for contemporary stratum/feature(s)?

Why was this feature created? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

“Clavicula”
With which stratum is this feature contemporary?
What is your evidence for contemporary stratum/feature(s)?

Why was this feature created? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

Feature A23
With which stratum is this feature contemporary?
What is your evidence for contemporary stratum/feature(s)?

Why was this feature created? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

Feature A24
With which stratum is this feature contemporary?
What is your evidence for contemporary stratum/feature(s)?

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Why was this feature created? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

Feature A25
With which stratum is this feature contemporary?
What is your evidence for contemporary stratum/feature(s)?

Why was this feature created? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

Feature A26
With which stratum is this feature contemporary?
What is your evidence for contemporary stratum/feature(s)?

Why was this feature created? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

Feature A27
With which stratum is this feature contemporary?
What is your evidence for contemporary stratum/feature(s)?

Why was this feature created? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

Feature A28
With which stratum is this feature contemporary?
What is your evidence for contemporary stratum/feature(s)?

Why was this feature created? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

Feature A29
With which stratum is this feature contemporary?
What is your evidence for contemporary stratum/feature(s)?

Why was this feature created? Be certain to include the evidence for your conclusion.

 

CONCLUSIONS

Now pull all of your evidence together; what does it all mean? In the box below write a narrative in which you tell the story of this

site. Start by explaining who came to the site first, when they got there, and what they were doing there. What happened to the

structure they built and why? When did the structure meet its demise? Who occupied the site later, when were they there, and what were

they doing there? Be certain to explain all the clues in the project except for the horse skull and teeth in Ditch II; even I am not

certain what they mean. Remember, archaeologists consider the historical as well as the archaeological evidence when interpreting a site:

use your knowledge of Colchester’s history along with what you have learned from this excavation to understand this site. Be certain to

write in sentences with proper grammar, syntax, spelling, etc.

 

GRAMMAR CHEAT-SHEET

Scholarly papers have a certain tone, which you should strive to use in this narrative. Undergraduates often deviate from the scholarly

tone, making it difficult for a reader to take the author seriously. Sometimes these mistakes even make it difficult to understand what

the student is trying to argue. In order to write more clearly and to be taken seriously avoid the following common mistakes. I have

taken all of the following examples from actual student papers with the exception of the last. If you do not understand why any of these

examples represents poor grammar, consult the Harbrace Handbook, your professor, or visit the Writing Center.

Avoid:
• the use of the passive voice. In academic writing you should strive for clarity; passive voice only obscures rather than

clarifies. Example: “The 2nd Punic War was won.” As a reader you are left wondering, who won the war?
• incorrect subject/verb agreement. Example: “An author has their own opinions and biases.”
• inconsistent verb tense. Example: “Bathing was central to urban social life. When a Roman comes to a bath, the first thing he

does is undress and store his clothes in the dressing room.”
• ending a sentence with a preposition. Example: “It was something Hadrian was very proud of.”
• using parentheses in the text; use commas instead. It is all right, of course to use parentheses in parenthetical citations.

Example: “It was at this time that Pompey turned against his onetime ally and father-in-law (Caesar’s daughter, being Pompey’s wife, had

just died).”
• being inconsistent with the number of subjects in the sentence. Example: “When a Roman was faced with this choice, they would

prefer a visit to the baths.”
• a conversational tone. Examples: “No one is denying the life of a slave was rough.” “You know what I mean when I say Hadrian

and Antinous were more than friends.”
• repetitive word choice. Example: “It was a very common form of pottery. It was found all over the empire. It was to have an

influence on local pottery forms.”
• capitalizing any word except those at the beginning of the sentence, proper names, and the title of an individual followed by

his/her name. Example: “In Ancient Rome the Emperors’ rule was absolute.”
• addressing the reader. Example: “You cannot deny that Caesar was a power-hungry egomaniac.”
• allowing spell check to select the wrong word. Examples: “Let the buyer be ware.” “I do believe that all men have falsies.”
• using big words whose meanings you do not understand and, therefore, you may use incorrectly. Example: “Roman male adulators were

not punished for sleeping with their slave girls.”
• using the thesaurus to find a synonym for a word you use frequently, but which does not really fit in the context in which you are

using it. Example: “Throughout his writings, Suetonius consistently contributes the state of the empire and the events of the reign to

the emperor in charge.”
• the use of contractions. Example: Don’t use contractions.