Where in the hell am I?

Stories from the road, and home, by a contract archaeologist.

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Location: Texas, United States

I work out of town a lot as a contract archaeologist. Sometimes it's interesting. It can be quite funny, although probably only to other archys. Home is Austin, with my wife and our cute kitty and all of our crazy friends.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


That's what a good chunk of this survey area in East Texas is: mush. It's rained a lot here the last few months, and most of the soils are poorly draining Beaumont Clays. Along the pipeline corridor, it's worse because any topsoils were probably buried during pipeline construction and there's lots of tire ruts to collect more water. Yesterday, we walked 3+ miles roundtrip to get to one river bank where we needed to dig some shovel tests. This was around 1pm, and our corridor ran almost due east/west, which meant no shade. Most of the ground was mush, which meant wet feet, poor footing, and lots of weaving trying to find solid ground. By the time we got to the area for digging, 2 of the crew were on the verge of heat exhaustion. Sadly, we spent all of about 20 minutes being eaten by mosquitoes while digging shovel tests in the treeline. Then, turn around and walk out. No one had any water left by the time we were out, and we actually drove the trucks along the line almost a quarter-mile to pick up the folks in bad shape (one of whom was Tina).
The plus side of this job is that we might get a bit of overtime, the per diem does not require receipts, and we're only investigating drainage crossings. Hopefully, we don't end up with any more like Monday.
Today we spent some time looking for a previously recorded site near the Trinity River. It was recorded during a survey for one of the many pipelines along the corridor back in the late 70s. It turns out that someone essentially stuck a trailer home and associated outbuildings right on top of the heart of the site. It's private property, and it's possible they weren't even aware of the fact (the cultural deposits are a foot or more below ground). Seems like they just decided that they wanted to be on the sandy, level area overlooking the bayou, just like the previous Native inhabitants.

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