Diving in the Dark: Underwater Excavation Methods in Jefferson County, FL
Author(s): Neil Puckett
Many sites require an extremely high level of accuracy and precision regarding excavation, identification, and documentation of cultural materials. The dark water and compact sediments in Florida’’s Aucilla River create unique challenges for recording an acceptable level of detail. Here, traditional underwater excavation and documentation techniques such as hand fanning, photogrammetry, and photo-modeling are not applicable. Instead, common terrestrial tools such as line-levels, stick rulers, string grids, and trowels are invaluable for scientifically documenting artifacts and recording spatial information during the excavation process. In situ artifact identification in the tannin stained waters requires adequate light and controlled use of sediment removal devices (such as water dredges or air lifts). Finally, unique use of lasers, total stations, meniscus tubes, and excavation frames expand excavators’’ abilities to establish consistent points of three-dimensional spatial reference across and between excavation areas. Many techniques developed over three decades of excavation in the Aucilla River have been used in the 2012-13 Page Ladson excavation in Jefferson County, FL.
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Diving in the Dark: Underwater Excavation Methods in Jefferson County, FL. Neil Puckett. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437380)