The Struggle for Walls

Megan Hall

These past few days, my pit partner Neill and I have been attempting to fix the walls of our unit.  The walls should be as close to straight and vertical one can cut them, so the unit stays the same size all the way down.  We are reaching the end of level five, and have been attempting to fix our walls before we go on.


Walls are supposed to be as close to vertical as you can get them, so when you stand straddling the wall, you should not be able to see it at all.  Our walls had steadily crept inward as we were digging down, so we had to cut off a lot to make them vertical.  As we have a square, Neill and I will both do two walls.  I fixed the eastern wall and will fix the southern wall, and he fixed the western wall and will fix the northern wall.


The western wall was difficult to fix, which is why it was the worst.  That is the wall where we have a twenty-five centimeter balk between our unit and Unit 2.  For now, we are leaving the balk up to separate the units, but we will take it down before we leave.  The balk is fragile, so one cannot put their weight on it; meaning that to fix the wall, one has to balance so you can look straight down, but not put any weight on the wall.  I was grateful to Neill for offering to fix that wall.

We still have to screen the dirt we take off the walls, so we have been moving slowly.  However, we have found a few sherds of pottery and some shell from the walls.  Luckily, there has not been anything of great importance, so we don’t have to worry about lost elevation and other contextual information.  If we had found a diagnostic artifact, such as a rim sherd, we would have to worry more about what elevation it came from.  A diagnostic artifact is an artifact that is indicative of the period it is from, such as a projectile point.  Projectile points have distinctive characteristics that define what time period they are from and are exclusive to that time period, so one can date them easier than a flake or sherd that lacks distinctive qualities.


We have made fair progress on our wall, each of us fixing one on Sunday.  I believe we will finish the walls and move on to level six tomorrow!  Now that we know what our walls should look like, we will be able to keep them straight for the coming levels.