Day Two: Googong, NSW

Day two was a much better day. Both in terms of finds and in terms of not turning into a 5 ft 1 Zooper Dooper. I even managed to get a coffee on the way to campus. I had this archaeology thing DOWN.

I got to site with a bit of a better handle on what to do. I grabbed my kit and hunkered down again ready to help finish off a square that another student had been working on the day prior.

We felt pretty optimistic about that square. Nearby other volunteers were finding nails, door hinges with nails still in them and post holes. But it was kind of like minesweeper. Except the bombs were hand cramps from digging up roots and the flags were nails and sheet metal. The supervisors would stand back, size up what squares had yielded anything of worth and try to visualise where the next find might be. It was something I would try to do myself – imagining what was underneath. It was a lot easier with those charcoal layers – seeing it (likely) extend into the next square and end halfway through your current one. The first square was a bit eh. We found a nail and little pieces of sheet metal but it was the next square where I started getting a bit of a high and would be chasing it all day.

It was not long into my next square until I had struck gold. No, not real gold. You would’ve heard about it by now if I had. But something that wasn’t an old nail or heavily fragmented sheet metal. I found barbed wire.

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And look, I’ll level with you here. This was my first substantial find so there was a split second where I thought ‘Wow. I should commemorate this somehow’ and considered getting a barbed wire tattoo. There would finally be someone on this earth that had a justification for a barbed wire tattoo that wasn’t ‘Dunno. Schoolies?’. I could be that person.

I probably won’t be that person. (You’re welcome, Mum).

Still it was exhilarating. It wasn’t something out of left field considering we were on a farm site but it was different from what other squares had offered. I was keen to finish this section off and see what the next would hold, because as I was soon to find out the best was yet to come.

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Yes, I was the first person on site to find glass. I first stumbled upon a fragment maybe 3cm long towards the upper left hand side corner of my square. It didn’t look like your standard bottle of Becks (see what I did there?). You could see little bubbles in the glass and it looked like it had some kind of lettering or branding on it but it was too fragmented to make out any thing other than an ‘O’. Then moments later I found a smaller fragment that looked like part of the bottom. My partner co-excavating that square wasn’t as lucky. Which made it even more satisfying because, like I said before, I’m an awful and flawed person.

As my find was right on the edge of the square I suspected we’d find more glass on the connecting square. It seemed unlikely that in the middle of the suspected, now just about confirmed, building to only have 2 relatively small fragments. And I was right.

God, I love being right.

As soon as I started digging I found more glass. This glass was the same colour as the other fragments but were much larger. I had found a body.

The body of a glass bottle. Just let me have this okay. Close enough.

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And yeah, I honestly got that excited about a shattered glass bottle. That’s the funny thing about archaeology, for me anyway. It doesn’t matter what you find it’s just that you find something – and sometimes not even that. The days I was there we as a group found: nails, barbed wire, hinges, a singular glass bottle and a section of charcoal. And from that we tried to create a narrative. And that was part of the fun. ‘Well, we have charcoal here and some of the bottle is burnt so maybe it was a shed that burned down.’. But who knows? We could be way off the mark.

I wasn’t able to come back to the site though – sometimes work gets in the way, so I don’t know what else they found there. Most of the media attention was being paid the school house being excavated down the hill. Still, although shorter than I would’ve liked (also how I describe myself) it was an experience that was rewarding and reaffirming that I’m on the right track.

Also, manual labour and hypothermia aside who wouldn’t want to spend a day or two with this as their office? 

Breaking Ground

My entire work day consists of trying to make small talk with people that don’t want to speak to me. Hell, they don’t even want to be in my store half of the time (unlike me, who doesn’t want to be in my store all of the time). Most times the fact that I’m a student comes up and they politely ask ‘Oh, what do you study?’. Likely, expecting me to say something like IT since I sell phones for a living but instead I say ‘I study archaeology. So it’s very relevant to what I do here. Maybe one day I’ll dig up a Nokia’ They laugh and then pause.

They always pause.

They take a moment and then say one of the following: “What’s left to find?”, “Yeah but what are you actually going to do” or my personal favourite “So, you’re into dinosaurs?”. My answer to what I’m “actually” going to do is always changing depending on what lecture I’ve had that week. To be honest, I don’t think they’re listening anyway. But the conversation continues because the computer is slow and what could be worse than sitting in silence with a stranger? So now they ask ‘What got you into that?’ and the truth is I don’t know. As a kid I would sneak down at night to watch documentaries about Ancient Egypt, in Year 12 Ancient History was the only class I would actually go to and then between high school and university when I started a hairdressing apprenticeship I would get pulled aside by the manager because I had been talking to too many clients about the Emperors of Rome. The past was always going to be in my future.

Now, for one last question – why am I telling you this? Well, while I was madly catching up on lectures prior to my first exam I listened to one where the speaker stressed the importance of writing or journalling as a part of our training because a big part of archaeology is communication. And clearly, talking about history and the work I’m doing is something that tickles me in all the right places – so it only seemed fitting to give it a crack. So that’s what this is. A journal of my experiences, musings and ramblings while I try to get experience and try even harder to graduate. I mean, it has to happen sometime right?

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