2009 season, day 20

Looking at the first picture, you might think that we didn't get that much done today. There are other things that you might think as well -- "I thought he was going to take that stone structure out today," or "why can I see more of what's left of the open air museum in this shot than usual?" or "where did I put my car keys?"

Fortunately, I have answers for some of those questions.

The initial plan was to take out the feature, assuming that cleaning the inner surface undermined it sufficiently for it to be unsafe to keep up. But that didn't happen. We did spend the first hour cleaning it up for a photograph, which may eventually find its way here, and then scraping away at its inner surface. But instead of something that looked as unstable as the outer surface, we found an inner surface that looks quite solid and convincing.

Unlike the outside, where stones protrude at varying angles and distances, the inner surface is relatively smooth and regular. And there isn't a foundation where I expected to see a foundation. This is making me doubt my belief that it was built as a freestanding structure -- it's getting pretty tall and narrow for something not supported by the dirt around it. The aesthetics of having a rubbly looking outer surface strike me as being somewhat less significant.

So, what we're going to do with this is to continue to dig through the ashy material that's along that inside wall, and see what turns up as we go down. My suspicion is that there are two phases -- an aboverground phase and a pit, but I'll wait and see what the feature has to say before making a final interpretation.

The stone feature wasn't the only thing that we excavated today; we actually went down a fair amount in the northern corner of the square. And then, the plan was to take down a couple of courses of stone from Garstang's wall.

That's not exactly what happened.

Honestly, that collapse isn't bad news; we were planning on taking it down eventually, and once we get this cleaned up, we'll be able to get a good look at what's coming, once we clear away the debris, and I'm much happier about a wall falling apart when we were trying to take it apart than I would be if it fell apart underneath someone who wasn't expecting it.

All the same, we're going to have some cleaning up to do; I didn't get pictures of what we excavated in that northern part of the square because it's currently covered in dirt and rocks from the wall.

So, in addition to my complaints about Garstang's archaeological technique, I'm no longer very pleased about the masonry work that he supervised.

As the camera I've been borrowing doesn't have a video mode, this is probably going to be the week in review as well, so here's a look at what's been going on in the neighboring squares. To the north, they've dug a narrow trench across the length of their area of excavation. As I understand it, they've found the bottom of the cut that Garstang made in the 1920s, as well as what looks to be a part of a marble pedestal. I'm not certain if they're planning on going deeper, or widening their trench, or something else entirely. I do know that if they decide to remove that pedestal, it's going to be a bit tricky.

There's all sorts of interesting stuff going on in the square to the east of mine; for one thing, they've been coming up with a lot of ostraka, all of which seem to be written in greek, on a very similar sort of potsherd -- it's possible that there's something that'll be found when they put that puzzle together. And they've mostly cleared the dirt off some of the larger features, which was one of the major goals for the season.

But, what I chose to take a picture of is a little lump of stone in the corner of their square. It's a bit difficult to make out, but it seems that they've just barely clipped the edge of the outer wall of the basilica. Which, to be honest, isn't a wall that I've ever mentioned before, and probably not something of surpassing interest to most of the people who might be reading this.

Sometimes I make poor photographic decisions.

Oh, and as far as the car keys go, I'm really not sure. Maybe check the pockets of your raincoat?