Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Brief Pause: Archaeological Survey Work in Lake Charles, LA

I've been working for actual money, the last couple of days, doing contract archaeology on the outskirts of Lake Charles, Louisiana. A road is to be widened or straightened or otherwise modified, and my team went to do some survey to see if there was any evidence of important archaeological resources that could be damaged by construction.

Thorns. Lots of thorns. And brambles, and fallen trees, and thick thick secondary undergrowth. Wading through creeks, clambering around on large tree trunks, and other somewhat hazardous activities. Despite these obstacles in some of the thickest vegetation I've seen, the rain and thunder, and some technical difficulties, the work went as planned. The clothes I had weighed a good 3-4 pounds more than they started, due to water and mud, and my hiking boots may not be the same again. What was really bizarre about this is that we were never more than a few hundred meters from a highway, or from a strip mall, though you'd never know it from the lack of visibility and dense undergrowth.

So, tomorrow I go back to the library and return to my studies and writing. I'll likely be doing some more of this work, which is very unglamorous, and very different than the type of academic archaeology I am used to doing. I've done CRM (cultural resource management) before, but not for eight years, and not since I've gained a much firmer understanding of archaeology by doing my dissertation work. It's a very different sort of activity.

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