Stephanie Benzur: Reflections on the Excavation Experience

(Originally dated Aug. 4, 2017): Today was the last day of the excavation, and it was very bittersweet. This half of the excavation involved opening up two new trenches in front of the tomb and excavating the interior of the tomb, something I was very excited for. I got to be one of the first ones to excavate the tomb since I was there for the first half. We all rotated, so I only got two days in the tomb. It was worth it though.

Excavation around the tomb

Burial practices of the Chalcolithic/Bronze Age almost always consisted of cremation burials, so that’s what we expected to find. I had high hopes for finding pottery or some other grave goods in the tomb, but unfortunately there weren’t any. We did however find large quantities of bone, some cremated, some not. I discovered two fire pits in the tomb, and one of the directors said that they’d never discovered fire pits in all their years of excavation. We bagged the hearths and all of the surrounding soil. The excavation of the tomb continued for the rest of the session with different people rotating in each day. They all found more cremated and non-cremated bone.

Outside the tomb, the finds weren’t as good as they were in the previous session. They mostly consisted of animal and human bone fragments, with more flakes from stone tools. One of the volunteers found a beautiful bronze dress pin, but it most likely dates to the Medieval period. I didn’t find anything else major, but nothing could have compared to the arrowhead anyway.

By the tomb

All in all, the excavation was definitely the most wonderful experience of my life. I learned valuable archaeological skills such as excavation, site planning and modeling, and artifact identification. It really solidified my desire to be an archaeologist, and I can’t wait to continue with future excavations.

I even made the front page of the local newspaper!

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