One of the supervisors is feeling that he hasn’t accomplished much in his trench, because it is not only complex but confusing. There is a balance to be achieved between working fast through the midden, to get to the structure of special interest underneath, and doing justice to the material to be found in the process – bearing in mind that excavation is expensive.
Yesterday persistent rain and mud making an abstract painting on the floor of the supervisors’ hut.
Today, bright sunlight creating sharp shadows and the ever present wind blowing clouds into many shapes.
Today I discovered micromorphology.
Samples of soil on site are cut and put carefully into small tin boxes or, if larger, wrapped in clingfilm. These are then sent away to be suspended in resin, from which very fine slices are cut to make slides to examine under a microscope. I was shown a photo of a slide of a beautiful pattern of mineral deposits. Clearly micromorphology is a most valuable source of post excavation scientific information – but it is also a process that produces great beauty.
My portrait of micromorphologist, Jo, makes her look too dreamy when, while I was drawing, she was giving me a lively account of the process. But she says my portraits give a sense of the person rather than a photographic likeness. This could be said of my whole project. I am trying to portray a sense of the dig – of being there. So accuracy is not a factor and my random approach is therefore suitable, and will serve the purpose of adding to the site record.
While they take photos and soil samples, I draw the moment.
The boulder has been taken out of the entrance to Structure 8, and they are removing stones and roof tiles that fell in – to get down to the main slab. Apparently, interesting things are found in doorways.
It has been pointed out to me that, when the dig is finally over and the excavations covered in, when the significant finds are in a museum and all the documentation has been filed, then the only visible representation of the dig will be my work. This is not strictly true because there will be other forms of visual documentation, like the video diary and the blog. So what will be different in my record of the dig? It will not be precise, nor a full representation, but far more random – a series of moments when I bore witness to events.
Yesterday, halfway through my painting, the sky on the horizon went black with rain and a small twister. It was too late to alter the sky, but I think it may show in the way the foreground picked up the light.
Structure 8 is enormous, stretching away across most of Trench P – in fact all that is visible of the trench if you stand at the structure entrance. No one will ever know what they did there 5000 years ago – or why, or when, the large water-washed boulder was placed in the doorway.
Two of the other drawings today: