initial survey work at the Prather archaeological site, in July 2003,
was very successful and greatly helped by volunteers. For our Fall 2003
survey work at this important site, we welcome the participation of members
of the Falls of the Ohio Archaeological Society, archaeology students,
professionals, and colleagues in historic preservation.
read all the information below, so that your work can make a real contribution
to the survey project, and you can arrive ready to be a member of the
also refer to the posted example of the sample record form.
All volunteers must notify us in advance for each day they will work,
so we can plan each day’s work. Contact Cheryl (by email if you
send this one week in advance, or cell phone, 812-325-3407). If you can’t
get through to Cheryl, then contact Bob (cell phone, 260-402-3462).
working Fall 2003, from October 22 to November 9, on Wednesdays through
Sundays, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Rain will postpone or cancel the work,
so call to check.
for volunteers who are professional archaeologists, you should plan for
your first work-day to be a full day at the site (unless you check with
Cheryl or Bob first). This is because we need to explain procedures at
the beginning of the day, not multiple times throughout the day. After
you are “trained,” you can sign up for partial volunteer days.
you arrive and park, please identify yourself to the Directors/Assistants
and “sign in.” We will have a yellow notebook with volunteer
record forms at the central work area. Please sign in each day that you
come, adding each additional date to the form you initially filled out.
goal is to identify the extent of the Mississippian occupation at the
Prather site and gain knowledge of the distribution and density of various
types of materials. Detailed topographic mapping is also being used to
identify probable mounds. The survey is using a tractor-mounted auger
to help recover samples of artifacts and residues from Prather site, which
is used as a pasture and hay field. The augured soil is collected and
screened through ¼-inch mesh. (Compared to shovel-probes, auger
sampling proved to be more efficient and gentle to the artifacts!)
have a 5-step field procedure, in which volunteers help with steps 3 and
Auger the sample at the specified grid point. Generally, we will
excavate only one level (usually about 0.5 m), but where deposits are
deep (> 0.5 m) we may excavate two levels. Level 2 may be partly collected
as a flotation sample, and the other part screened; or the entirety of
L.2 may be bagged as a flotation sample.
FS Record (Directors/Assistants)
Assign Field Specimen number to the sample, and place the sample’s
record form inside labeled sample bag at the hole.
Excavation (Volunteers & Directors/Assistants)
a. Look at the record form so you know what to observe.
b. Excavate all the loosened soil in and around the auger hole (shovel,
hoe, dipper, scoop) and clean the base of the hole. However, it is not
necessary to clean out the very narrow cut (from the “stinger”
on the auger) at the base of the hole. Stockpile all soil on a large enough
piece of plastic for later screening and wrapping. Scrape the sides of
the auger hole with a trowel to provide a clean profile of the deposits;
you should be able to see the grooves left in the soil by the auger. Remove
the last scrapings of soil from the bottom of the hole.
c. Complete excavators’ part of the record form and return to bag.
Pin bag next to the hole with the flag.
d. Tell Directors/Assistants that the soil profile is ready to be documented.
e. Ask them about schedule for screening the sample you just excavated.
If the soil needs to dry out or will soon be screened, and rain is not
in the forecast, leave soil exposed. Otherwise, wrap soil on the plastic
into a “burrito,” carefully tucking under the ends of the
plastic so the soil won't get wet if it rains.
f. Ask for your next assignment.
Soil Profile (Directors/Assistants)
Examine and document soil profile on back of record form. For
a curved face of the round auger hole, select one side or the most informative(N,
E, S, or W), and use flexible tape for horizontal measurement of 0.5 m
(i.e., approximately one-half of the holes exposed soil profile. Use a
separate sheet of graph paper for deep profiles. Note depths of the screened
level on front of form. Place record form back in bag and pin next to
hole with a flag.
Screening (Volunteers & Directors/Assistants)
a. Look at the record form so you know what to observe. Clip this to a
b. After the profile has been completed, set up screen over the hole,
unwrapping the plastic burrito if necessary. Shovel dirt into screen,
and using hands and screening blocks push soil through screen. As the
hole fills, stop several times to tamp the dirt and compact the backfill.
Screen all the soil. Mound excess dirt on top of hole, and stomp it down.
c. After screening several shovels full, clean the screen and put all
cultural materials and rock left in the screen into the labeled sample
d. Do not discard anything except grass and obvious roots (we don’t
want any root-like bones missed in the sample). Charcoal – keep
only pea-size pieces or larger; the screened soil is mixed with some plow
zone, after all. Rock – keep all kinds, even pebbles. Historic material
– keep all brick, nails, etc. Wrap sharp objects in foil, label,
and put in sample bag.
e. Wrap any charcoal and fragile items in labeled foil packets with the
same label information as the sample bag (note: use Sharpie to label foil
packet and describe on foil what is inside – e.g., charcoal, red
painted pottery, fragile bone, sherds the broke and can be glued together).
f. Leave flag upright next to hole.
g. Fill out screeners’ part of record form.
h. Take plastic, sample bag, labeled foil packets, and completed forms
to a Director/Assistant in the designated collection area (by gear tent
or vehicle), so they can be checked for completeness. Sample bag, fragile
foil packets, and form should be logged in before you begin work at another
i. Ask for your next assignment.
Bring your own trowel, if you have one, and any sturdy long-handled ladles/dippers.
will be a portajohn.
Dress for work outdoors (including laying down on the ground to clean
out the deeper holes) and screening. It will undoubtedly be much colder
at the site than you would imagine. Boots aren’t necessary. Work
gloves, even the $1 jersey gloves, are good, as are hooded coats, hats,
Equipment (shovels, plastic, clipboards, etc.) will be in a central area.
This must be kept organized so people can find things. Please return gear
to where you found it.
all pack our lunch and eat at the site, so bring your own food and beverages.
We will have a cooler of water to share. You might want to bring hot beverages
in a thermos.
Co-Directors: Cheryl Ann Munson and Robert G. McCullough
Associates and Assistants: Jocelyn Turner, Perry Harrell, Andy White,
Mike Strezewski, Sean O’Brian, and Jonathan Criss.