Eric didn’t have to twist my arm to get me to walk that old road bed back through the trees, and as we walked, I began to recognize more and more of the landscape that had been so familiar to me so many years ago. We passed a metal equipment shed that I couldn’t quite place, but then I began to talk as we walked, “Now there was an old house up there on that rise…and there should be pond out here to the right, and there would’ve been a field in front of it…” My breath caught in my throat, for there it was, the pond, all choked around its edge with blackberry brambles and tall grasses. And the field, yes, it was still there, only it was now edged with old bleachers, and looked as if it had been used (or unused, in this case) a long time ago as a practice field.
As we walked into the openness of the field, I reoriented myself as to where our units were placed (fine units with straight walls and floors scraped so clean that you could easily photograph any features or post molds) and where our tents would have been set up by the pond, all the while, my eyes scanned the ground for evidence of fire cracked rock or debitage that should’ve been exposed over the years through natural erosion. Although my eyes strained at every grass-free spot I saw, there was nothing that would indicate an excavation had ever taken place there. And I was not about to dig anywhere to see what lay just beneath the surface. I am a former contract archaeologist and that would be unethical, not to mention highly illegal in the state of Alabama.
Making our way around edge of the field, we saw the remnants of a small shed in the embrace of some saplings and some unidentifiable scrap metal. Not much else. At that point we headed back towards a ditch that ran along the side of the equipment shed. “I can’t believe there is nothing laying on top…no debitage, no nothing. I just wish there was something…” And then I saw it sitting on top of a small mound of dirt, a small roughly knapped triangle. “Got a bird point,” I said. “We are probably the first people to hold this since its owner dropped it thousands of years ago…” Eric was incredulous, had to touch it to make sure it was real. We kept walking and looking. Tiny bits of sand and grit tempered plain pottery, bits of sparkly quartz, some chert debris, a small slice of green stone. Nothing that anyone else would’ve ever noticed, but something to an eye that was once trained to see such. We were giddy. I felt vindicated…why I needed that assurance, I’ll never know. Eric rightly chalked it up to some form of existential validation. We all need that sometimes. Now, who to turn these things over to...
As the sun began its descent, we walked the old chert road back to the softball fields where our friends were warming up on the cyclocross course. Strange to see so much of the modern world in such close proximity to the ancient. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and dialed my old crew chief’s number to see if he and his wife Angie (a former archaeology crew mate) would like to join us for the evening (they live nearby). He said they would love to, but they were in Mobile on a college visit for their daughter Jesse. Could I believe she was old enough to be going to college? No, I couldn’t. Jessie was probably conceived on one of our last excavations as a crew together, the Dry Branch dig. She shouldn’t be old enough for college. Then Chris asked me if I had taken Eric back to the old dig site, and had we seen the blue hole…
|( Upper L, in a circle) Quartz, green stone, bird point, debris, pottery.|
And now for some photos from the 1991 dig:
|Woodland Park Excavation 1991|
|The Blue Hole|
|The Old Homestead.|