Today, I could only spend half a day in the field, as my second eldest son, Jason, graduated from Secondary School. Apparently that’s a big deal, so big that a graduation ceremony and dinner had been planned. But there was an open bar so I was partially sated…..
So, thinking I would be having to shower before the big Shindig anyway, I decided to try my hand at sieving! Now sieving is what we geos refer to as a “Right of Passage”. Most fieldies will have known the pain of being bent over a bucket trying to push rocks through a mesh! The purpose of sieving is to make sure every tiny artefact is removed from the soil sample, and usually we use a 5mm sieve which means the grid lines are about 5mm square. This usually will sort out very small pieces of bone or rock – which is what Palaeontologists and Geologists look for.
But apparently Archeologists require a 1mm sieve to be used. And these are painful! Trying to push almost lithified clay through a 1mm square is just plain nasty! I akin it to cheese grating a piece of clay. I’m not sure what kind of artefact can actually survive such treatment, but hey! We were told to do it – so while the Archeos were in the pits taking measurements (sipping lattes!) the Paleos and Geos were elbow deep over old bath tubs full of the dirtiest, muddiest, sludgiest, SMELLIEST water you can imagine! The end result was a bunch of pebbles that were bagged, tagged and catalogued.
We sieved buckets and buckets and buckets of clay from the pits! Back breaking, finger grating, dirty, wet, cold work! It was wonderful!
Having covered myself totally in nasty smelling sludge I finally decided I had better head off home to clean up before the graduation. I must admit sitting in the car with the heater blasting was bliss! I don’t think I felt my fingers until we hit Leopold!
But the end result was this! I’m so proud of my baby boy! Graduating Year 12 and completing his VCE. And isn’t he handsome?!