Any aspiring Archaeologist must, at some point, attend at least one field school before completing his/her undergraduate degree. For anyone just joining us, a field school is an actual archaeological excavation where students learn, train and get a chance to practice the fundamentals and methodologies of their future profession. And while there are university arranged archaeological field schools happening all over the world we are fortunate to be able to participate in a field school so close to home.
This particular field school, the Blumenhof Archaeological Project, has 14 students from the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg combined. On hand to help mentor us are two Graduate Students Kim & Jodi as well as the Project Manager Val and our Course Instructor Dr. Sawatzky.
We are a small group that now calls a tiny portion of a canola field “Home Sweet Home” eight hours a day, five days a week as we dig for material evidence associated with a Mennonite dwelling that once stood where the canola now grows. We are in our own little archaeological world, sharing our work space with red winged black birds, mice, bees, the odd tick, spiders and nasty flies that bite.The canola seems to get higher, and our path smaller, every day.
We have been onsite for almost three weeks now and in this short amount of time the canola has more than tripled in height, prompting queries and speculations about canola: “How tall will it get?” “When do they harvest it?” “How long will those yellow flowers last?” Moreover, this sea of vibrant yellow has led to some interesting, albeit slightly disturbing, conversations about what might lurk out there that we cannot see and which of us should be the recipient of a good scare from someone hiding in the field. There have been peek-a-boo scenarios, hide & seek suggestions and a variety of ideas on how one might simply stray off the path and lose themselves amongst the canola, all being bantered about.
Clearly most of us find our field school natural environment fascinating and while the actual excavation is exciting, where we are digging certainly adds to the fun!