Avebury Dig 2014 – Day 9

Looking south east on 30 July

Looking south east on 30 July – and it’s still hot and sunny

Progress is being made, but it’s hot work. Two particularly nice finds today though – another hint of some Mesolithic activity, and the Early Bronze Age theme continues ….

This two-tone knife is two colours because it's been worked on at two different times, many centuries apart.

This two-tone knife is two colours because it’s been worked on at two different times, many centuries apart.

The knife started out as a flake, and Josh Pollard suggests it’s quite likely to have been made in the Mesolithic, hence the quite marked patination (the white colouration – because the surfaces have been exposed for so much longer than most of the flint we’re finding). Later on, in the Neolithic, it was found and given some shallow retouch to make it into a knife. It’s always nice to be able to read a ‘history’ like that in what seems at first glance quite a simple object.

And here's our Early Bronze Object Of The Day (as it seems it's obligatory to have one): a 'thumbnail scraper'

And here’s our Early Bronze Object Of The Day (as it seems it’s obligatory for us to have one): a ‘thumbnail scraper’ (thumbnail courtesy of Not-A-Doctor Michele)

Strictly speaking thumbnail scrapers first appeared with Beakers, so could be Chalcolithic, or final Neolithic, or whatever you want to call the time when early Beakers were in use, but they did stay in use for quite a while. They’re defined by size and are – yes, you guessed it – about the size of a thumbnail.

You have to take account of the scale to realise how remarkable this barbed and tanged arrowhead is.

Avebury Dig 2014 – Day 8

 

You have to take account of the scale to realise how remarkable this barbed and tanged arrowhead is.

You have to take account of the scale to realise how remarkable this barbed and tanged arrowhead is.

Another day – another star find. None of us have seen a barbed and tanged arrowhead that’s both this small and this well made. It was really difficult for our volunteer photographer Mike Robinson to get a picture of this without a stand etc (it was taken on site, in really strong sunlight) – and unfortunately it doesn’t really show the detail very well; it’s a really beautifully worked arrowhead. Josh (Pollard) says that it’s clearly a case of deliberate miniaturisation, because of the quality of work, not just someone using up a small bit of flint. So once again – more Early Bronze Age material has come up – Where’s the Peterborough Ware I say?!

Avebury Dig 2014 – Day 7

The weather has thankfully been a little cooler today but much of the ground surface is still like concrete; a fact many of us have the blisters to prove ( if you think archaeology is a glamorous profession think again!)

Today we’ve been concentrating our efforts on the eastern part of Trench 2. Most of this trench is yet to be explored. In the small strip immediately behind Josh (baseball cap and maroon t-shirt) in the picture below we have the remnants of the trench dug by Keiller in 1934. That means   we can tie in his work with ours remarkably accurately.

The BtM team hard at work this afternoon in Trench 2

The BtM team hard at work this afternoon in Trench 2

As you can see we’ve divided the site up into a series of one metre squares. This means that even when we encounter a general layer that covers much of the site our recording will allow us to spatially locate all of the artefacts. This enables us to build up a picture of artefact distribution  across the site and helps us understand what activities people were carrying out where. To ensure we don’t miss even the smallest finds every bucketful of soil that we remove from a square (or an individual feature such as a pit when we encounter them) is sieved.

 

Mark (Dr Mark Gillings) ensuring we find evey flake of flint and every sherd of pottery (and yes,our boots are often more soil than sock by the end of a days sieving)

Mark (Dr Mark Gillings) ensuring we find every flake of flint and every sherd of pottery (and yes,our boots are often more soil than sock by the end of a day’s sieving)

You might remember that on Day 4 we found a cracking Early Bronze Age plano-convex flint knife. We’ll today Christian came up with another one.

Plano-convex knife with a notch in the left edge

Plano-convex knife with a notch in the left edge.

 What’s slightly curious about this example is that a notch has been deliberately worked in one edge. Notches are often found as part of combination tools in the Later Neolithic and Early Bronze Age; combination scrapers and notches for instance. But plano-convex knives don’t normally form part of this Swiss Army toolkit approach to flintworking. It’s just possible however that our example may have been notched to allow it to be hafted with a wooden handle.

Our two plano-convex knives, together with our rather handsome barbed and tanged arrowhead from last year  seem to be telling us that something is going on here in the Early Bronze Age as well as several centuries before in the Middle Neolithic. And in between times someone went and built an Avenue (or two).