Author Archives: Emily Horbatch

Findings at Excavation Unit 4

For the first half of this field school, it seemed as though my excavation unit was the least captivating of the excavation units on the gravel knoll. Sure, my excavation partner and I had been finding interesting objects in our unit, and we were excited about what we were finding, but the objects we had been finding seemed insignificant in relation to the arrow heads those in other units had been finding. Although my excavation partner and I were disheartened, we knew it was only a matter of time before our unit became more interesting.


When my partner and I first noticed the dark gravel oval on our excavation unit floor, we were unsure what to make of it. We were told that it was a possible feature and that we needed to perform a cross section of it to be sure. A cross-section involves digging one half of a feature to see its soil profile in order to better understand the feature. We began our cross-section, and almost immediately found multiple pieces of animal bone. As we continued to dig down into our feature, we unearthed more animal bone, many pieces of charcoal, pieces of shell, and pottery sherds. It was not until completing the cross-section and chatting with the director of this field school, Dr. Goldstein, that we determined what this evidence meant.


The charcoal pieces we encountered in the feature lend to evidence for burning, and the pieces of animal bone and shell are evidence for subsistence. With these pieces of evidence together, we were able to conclude that our feature was a cooking pit used by the Native Americans who occupied the site. One of the goals behind digging at the gravel knoll was to determine whether or not the Native Americans who lived in Aztalan altered the gravel knoll. Our excavation unit has now become more important because of the evidence it contains, that the Native Americans who lived in Aztalan modified the gravel knoll.

Emily Horbatch

Adjusting to Tent Life

Emily Horbatch

I have never been camping for such an extended period of time. The only time I have ever slept in a tent was when I was very young, and my siblings and I convinced my parents to set up a tent for us in the backyard to sleep for the night. During the middle of the night we grew tired of the cold, and went back into the house to sleep in our warm bedrooms. So, needless to say, I was worried about sleeping in a tent for five weeks as part of this archaeological field school.

In addition to the camping supplies list I was given, I attempted to think of every other item I would need in order to live as comfortably as I possibly could in my tent. I traveled to Cabela’s, a camping/hunting supply store, where I thoroughly surveyed the store to make sure I had not forgotten any necessary supplies. There, I bought items such as a tent, a cot with storage compartments, a battery-operated fan, and a remote controlled lantern. After my trip to Cabela’s, I felt fully prepared to live in my tent for five weeks.

The weekend before the field school, my parents and I loaded up the car with my camping supplies, and had just enough room for everything to fit. When we arrived on the day of the beginning of the field school, with my parents help, I was able to set up my tent in what seemed like record time. We aligned my tent with the tents of the other field school participants. I organized my tent in such a way that I have enough space to comfortably move, placing my cot on one side of the tent, my suitcase full of clothes and hamper on another, and my drying rack and chair on the other side of the tent.

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For the past few weeks, I have been able to experience what life is like living in a tent. Although we do not have access to many of the amenities of home life, we do have substitutes for them. Instead of running water, we are able to access a hose, where we are able to fill up our water coolers every day. Instead of the lamps and lights of home life, we have lanterns in our tents, which work just as well. Instead of the private showers of home life, we are able to access a public shower every day.

Although these may seem like drastic changes to some, I have found it easy to adjust to tent life. Besides the wet spot that continues to develop on my tent floor, even though I bought a ground cloth to put underneath my tent to protect from water seepage, I have encountered few problems with tent life. My cot is surprisingly comfortable, and so I am able to sleep throughout the entire night without waking up. My sleeping bag is designed to work for temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and so I am able to keep warm during the cold nights we have experienced. I enjoy waking up to the sounds of the birds chirping outside my tent. I have very much enjoyed the past few weeks I have spent living outdoors as part of this archaeological field school, and look forward to the next couple of weeks.