My Archaeology Ground Zero
“One rock is a rock. Two rocks are a coincidence. Three rocks are a wall.” This is the first lesson I was taught on the site of my first archaeological expedition. My second? One can never bring too many socks.
I was a little seventh grader who left the US for the first time to excavate an ancient castle in Spain with my two siblings, my father, and many friends. Even with my lack of knowledge, they threw me in headfirst with a trowel and brand new pair of gloves— which would later be lost to the well. We were opening a brand new un-excavated area named Area IV, which I have come to know very well over the past five years.
I have had the pleasure of excavating the Zorita Castle over the course of four years (I took a one-year hiatus to join the AFAR Belize project at Cahal Pech). Each year, I worked to expose another room, floor, or architectural feature of Area IV. As of this year, Area IV is composed of 4 rooms, a patio with surrounding porches, a well, and a cistern. The first room you see of Area IV is the bakery. I exposed its beautiful brick floor my second year with AFAR. North of the bakery is the well with a large pillar used to obtain the precious water. The patio—which was the first ancient floor I’ve ever swept— had slanted tiles that directed the rainfall into the cistern. Surrounding the patio are two porches, with a possible third porch that the 2019 middle school team is currently working to expose. Sitting bellow all this is the amazing cistern. It is basically 1/3 smaller than the Sistine Chapel and stored all of the water for the castle.
During this year‘s high school expedition, we exposed a beautiful doorway leading into an un-exposed room on the far side of Area IV.
This week with the middle school team, we created a 2x1 meter unit that is roughly the size of a large walk-in closet, deep enough for anyone to stand up straight and still be hidden.
As I’ve helped expose the older times of the castle, I too grew older. I’m no longer a little seventh grader. But I’m still as excited as a little girl whenever we discover something in the amazing castle that has been my archaeological ground zero. I have learned so much about the history of Spain, the castle, and myself. I have a greater understanding of the importance or archaeology. But more than that, I have a much greater understanding of my place in this world.
I have worked with the middle school group for only three days now but have been able to teach them the many lessons I have learned over the last five years. I have been able to share with them wisdom gained through countless hours on site, more than a few mistakes, and great direction and guidance from such wonderful teachers as Mat Saunders, Catalina Urquijo, and Dr. Dionisio Urbina.