By Lindsey Goes

Behold, The Underminer!

It was the second day of excavation – the sandbags were dumped, the weeds cleared, and it was finally time to start actually digging. I was beyond excited, of course; I have been dreaming of becoming an archaeologist since I was in first grade and thought it meant pulling up dinosaurs and fighting Nazis. Now, I know that archaeology is neither of those things, and I have known this for a while. But a harder misconception to shake was the image of one Dr. Jones running off with a golden idol, of the undiscovered monumental architecture that housed the Holy Grail. People want to find cool things, and I am no exception.

That day I used the soft brush to more delicately remove the dirt I’d loosened with the small pickaxe. We were leveling the square, because one side was significantly higher than the other. Some of the dirt blew into a dip in the ground, and as I swept it away, an exciting shape was uncovered. It was the side of a juglet, with handle fully attached and intact, and looked as though it could be complete. I called my supervisor over and we all got excited, and I named the small vessel the Underminer, after the villain at the end of the first Incredibles movie.

However, our job was still to level the square. And even if it wasn’t, digging is done in even passes, exposing material rather than wrenching it from the ground. The reasoning being that you can never truly tell how big an object is going to be, so pulling it up might disturb more than expected and/or break the artifact and those around it. Unfortunately, since the juglet was in a dip, it would be a while before we got to it properly. But I had firm dibs, so I didn’t mind the wait.

I didn’t wait long. The next day, another person working in the square was also brushing loose soil. I heard a surprised noise and turned to see them holding the Underminer in the air – but it wasn’t complete, not even close. It was only what we’d already seen. I nice piece, but not what we’d hoped for.

That’s not to say cool things don’t exist – a complete juglet was found the next day, not a meter away. But it was found incrementally, more exposed in every pass until it was free. Patience and a gentle hand were what retrieved it safely. So, I learned not to expect special finds – that’s what makes them special, after all – but nonetheless to treat every artifact with care. And not to name sherds after Disney villains.