In the Field
In the Field
The preparation for field work involves examining geological and aerial maps of the counties included in the research area. This allows researchers to pinpoint characteristic areas that possibly contain portions of exposed formations (outcroppings) associated with the material being studied.
Other preparation included researching the Alabama State Site Files (ASSF 2003) for recorded prehistoric sites containing lithic components (quarries, scatters) within the counties included in the research area.

A variety of equipment is used for this field work ranging from high tech GIS (global information system) devices to more low-tech rock hammers. Researchers must also be familiar with photographic equipment, understand topographic maps, and be able to use appropriate sampling techniques.

The rigors of fieldwork are a shared aspect of both archaeology and geology.

Because most areas within the project area are remote, and included difficult terrain, the research can be physically demanding at times.
Creek with Tallahatta Sandstone lining the bottom. This site was previously recorded by archaeologists and listed in the Alabama State Site Files.
Because most of the outcropping areas and prehistoric archaeological sites were within private property, permission was obtained from individual landowners for access to these sites.

For this project, field work was conducted in the southeast counties of Houston, Henry and Geneva, and in the southwest counties of Clarke, Choctaw, and Washington.

Surface exposure in clearcut where Ocala Chert was visible. While erosion does reveal artifacts, it also destroys the stratigraphic context, which is a critical element for making archaeological interpretations.
Once in the field, researchers gather samples from geological outcrops and worked lithic materials from archaeological sites. These samples are observed, collected and recorded individually and each new archaeological site is assigned a state, county, and sequential number. For example, 1CK45 indicates the 45th site recorded in Clarke County (CK), Alabama (1). In this manner, a database is built for future research.
Rivers and streams provide exposures of geological formations for examination.
Sedimentological and stratigraphic data are recorded from outcrops and formations containing the lithic materials of interest.
Rivers and streams also cut through deposits and expose hard materials such as chert that are resistant to weathering.
Sampling of a geologic source of stone involves an attempt to acquire characteristic examples as well as samples that document the range of variation present. These materials are returned to the lab for further analysis.
Copyright © 2004 by
The University of South Alabama
Updated: 9/5/2004
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