My two days with the dig were a lot of fun! I learned a lot about/actively participated in the materials and methods of a proper archaeological dig. I mostly did a lot of digging, although on Saturday afternoon I helped Pat (Dr. Kirch) with his surveying, and I did a bit of dry sieving at the end. The surveying was interesting... it involves a glorified yardstick (telescoping, extends to... very very high above my head, enough that it catches wind and starts being very difficult to hold upright) and a fancy scope on a plane on a tripod. There's a level on the plane so you can set it up flat, and a built-in compass so you know which way you're pointed. My job was to wander around the site and hold the 'yardstick' still and vertical; by sighting the stick through the crosshairs of his scope, Pat can determine the distance and ground height relative to the scope. In this way he can determine the precise 3-D location of every single stone, and draw a detailed map of the site, including contour lines. It's a really cool tool, but they don't make them anymore; his is from the Forties.
The digging was tough; the soil up there is dense, hard-packed clay, in places almost as hard as rock. We only made it fifteen or twenty centimeters in Units 1 and 2 in a day and a half of digging (each Unit is a meter squared). We've already found some interesting stuff, though: a piece of seashell with a hole drilled through it, a chunk of coral (bear in mind, the site is at almost 2000 ft), and lots of little pieces of charcoal. At Unit 2, the unit I was digging, we've determined that the wall of the pā doesn't extend further down than what's visible on the surface; no sign of paving, either, at least not in that spot. On the one hand, vaguely disappointing; on the other hand, this means the charcoal we've already found can probably be used to date the pā! :DD
Our ranger, community liaison, cultural adviser, and friend, Thomas Anuheali‘i has been on-hand throughout the dig to keep an eye on the spiritual aspect of things, as well as to help with the digging. We are so lucky to have a friend and ally in Anu; he is so knowledgeable and does so much for us. Before we started digging on Friday, he and his wife Maka and his kumu (teacher and mentor) Auntie Kehau blessed the site, and then blessed us, with water from Pālehua and Mauna Kea. He blessed us again yesterday, and each day at pau hana (finished work), and provides shorter blessings every time anyone leaves or enters the site (i.e. to eat lunch up at the house). He chants occasionally during the dig, when he feels the need, although most of the time he's helping out with the hard labor. By his instruction, we were also under a sugar kapu during work hours: no man-made sugars from eight in the morning to pau hana; this is a Lent type thing, a sacrifice, and a way to keep our minds focused on the seriousness of the work.
I am really really happy that we have Anu to help us observe the culturally correct and respectful way of doing things. It feels... pono. It makes the dig not about taking data from the site, and more of a community partnership, a cultural conversation, an equivalent exchange of mana. And I'm happy and proud to be a part of a family that had no interest in doing things any other way.
...Anyway, pictures from the dig will have to wait until I come back in June, along with my old pictures and my new pictures from the Lower Hakalau Vigilante Bushwhack Expedition and the bog in the middle of nowhere that will be my home for ten days. By then the dig will be over; hopefully when I get back I'll have exciting (or at least interesting) news about the results from Uncle Tim!
Oh god how is it this late in the day already, okay, BUYING/PACKING ALL OF THE THINGS NOW. T_T