The beginning of the excavation

By Rory McEathron

Monday marked the beginning of an archaeological dig that I am getting the chance to assist with. The site is known as GT-4 (GT standing for Grand Turk) and is based around a site located the west side of the island. I am working alongside the Museum’s Director and two professional archaeologists from the United States, and the excavation will run for the week’s entirety. The archaeologists work by digging test pits every 25 meters. We dig a pit that’s approximately 70 centimeters deep—a little over two feet—and then pouring the material through a screen. The sand and dirt fall through, while shells, rocks and pottery bits are left exposed. By tracking numbers of artifacts (potsherds, beads, etc.), they can figure out where the main site was located. I quickly learned that archaeology is nothing like Hollywood makes it out to be. As amazing as this may seem, every shovelful doesn’t turn up a gold nugget or tiny valuable stone statue. Over six hours of work and 15 holes, we found two pottery fragments and one whole bead. However, I am really looking forward to working and learning for the rest of the week!