More Ceramics, Not Enough Clay

So next week is the last week of summer research!  I surprise myself with how sad I am about it.  There’s still so much to do!  But I’ve been working hard, nonetheless.  For one thing, I met with a geologist about collecting clays for my study.  This involved digging down into various parts of the site with a hand-held auger and hoping to find clay there.  It wasn’t successful, but he said that he could bring his drill rig, which is a much more massive instrument attached to his truck, onto the site at some point in the future.  So I will get clay soon!  I’ve also been doing more XRF.  It started out a bit slow, because I was away from the instrument for a while and the readings were coming up kind of funky.  It turned out that someone else had been using the machine while I was away and left a filter in it, which I didn’t think to check for until several hours had passed.  But it worked out in the end, and now things are going smoothly.  In fact, I would be done with that portion of the work if I hadn’t expanded my sample set – now I’m taking data on ceramics from two even deeper strata as well, meaning even older sherds.  It’s pretty exciting!  Although, to be honest, most of the spectra I’ve been seeing for my sherds look pretty much the same so far.  Sometimes I get a really high titanium spike and think, “Oh my goodness, this one’s different!” but it turns out in those cases that I accidentally aimed the X-ray at the label on the sherd instead of the ceramic surface.  (All the sherds are labeled with pen on white-out and sealed with clear nail polish, and XRF is primarily a method of surface characterization.)  I think, though, that once I actually go in and compare all of the spectra to each other purposefully and do some statistics, I’ll get some good results.  If they are all the same, that result will just suggest that all the ceramics were made locally, which is useful knowledge in itself.  So I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of it.  Anyway, once I’m done taking XRF data, I’ll start several other types of testing, as well.  These will probably continue into the school year, since, as aforesaid, there is only a week left for research this summer.  (Aaaaahh!)  I’ll let you know how it all goes!