Weekends in the Field

The Cowell Lime Works Field Internship Program Experience

 by Victoria Feeney, Class of 2014

This spring quarter I worked with Pat Paramoure at the Cowell Lime Works Field Internship. The class is a crash course of field work in archaeology and, while it passes quickly, the experience left me more prepared for what’s to come. Every Saturday I headed to campus and worked in the field stewarding, surveying, digging, mapping, cleaning artifacts, doing data entry, and filling out the requisite paper work for an archaeological dig. The conditions aren’t always great; sometimes it’s hot and the ground is so dry you barely make progress in your unit, other times you deal with chilled bones and draining your unit because it’s full of rain water.

But I’ve come to learn the joys of using a breaker bar and pick axe. I’ve also come to learn the horrors of ticks and blisters. And it was well worth it. These weekend digs have taught me enough that field school doesn’t seem all that intimidating anymore. I’ve learned how to use new databases for artifact entry, I’ve learned how to spot charcoal in a screen, and I’ve learned that archaeologists can and will use whatever tools they can when in the field (peach pitters, clay loops, dental picks). The Lime Works internship taught me the value of working in teams (something I’ve never really liked) and how absolutely vital it is to keep a field journal on top of the regular paper work.

On top of all that, I’ve learned that the outdoors isn’t all that terrible. I’m a lab junkie. Dissections? Human remains? No problem. But there was something about bugs and sunshine that seemed daunting. Now I remember to wear sunscreen. I let the lizards scurry away from the pick axe wielding girl instead of doing the “eek eek yucky” dance. I bring a bandana when it gets too dusty and I love my ridiculous safari hat for keeping my head protected from the sun. I have a newfound respect for nature. And two-handed pick axes.

The Lime Works has allowed me to learn more about our campus’ historic district. I’ve toured the historic sites and heard the history of Henry Cowell. I’ve seen the lime kilns. And through the artifacts found at our dig, I’ve learned about the historic hay barn. We’ve uncovered tools, animal bones, glass panes, broken bottles, bullet casings, ceramics... It’s been fascinating learning about the goings-on at the hay barn. The ceramics are especially fascinating as the glaze and shape suggests a platter or some sort – something you certainly wouldn’t find in a barn!

All in all, this field internship has been a great learning experience. The skills I’ve learned will be vital to any future field work I do and I’m looking forward to getting to use them again. Dirt and bugs no longer phase me.