When most people think about what archaeology is, they are likely thinking about excavation, or the process of retrieving the artifacts, but archaeology is so much more than that. Interpretation of a site in order to gain new insight and knowledge about who once lived there is key to a successful archaeological dig. As part of our field school, we have to practice the interpretation side if archaeology and learn to think critically about what we are finding.

On Friday we had our first general crew meeting. All of the students and the instructors came together to discuss what we've been seeing so far at the site and what that might mean. Since each student is in charge of excavating an individual 1mx1m unit at a time, it can be easy to lose site of the bigger picture, so a constant dialogue between all the excavators is very important. By getting together and laying out what we've each seen, we can look at the site as a whole and determine where to go next.

Another benefit of getting together as a group is being able to brainstorm ideas, and to get the perspective of multiple people. For example, one of the students, Kate, had found a woody material in her unit under a layer of clay. In the field we had thought that it might have been reeds or woody plant material, but once it was examined under a microscope in the lab we saw that it was, in fact, tree wood of some kind. So at the general crew meeting we were able to talk about what it could be, and decided that the wood material could have been wood shavings from when the housebarn was being built.

The students gather at MHV to discuss what's happening at the site so far.

By working as a team, we can get a broader sense of what is happening at our site and we can pool our resources in order to draw stronger conclusions. Starting on Monday you'll get a chance to hear from all the students on the excavation team, who are all very excited to share their stories with you.

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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