SASS – UMass Boston – Fiske Center – Archaeology

Blog of the Skagafjordur Archaeological Settlement Survey

Kites, Rocks, and a Backhoe


Yesterday was beautiful weather, and while we finished up the DUALEM survey John was able to get the kite flying and took some outstanding photos of the grid.  More on that later – meanwhile, here’s an action shot!

John brings the kite back to earth after a successful flight


Rocks, especially large rocks, can influence the electromagnetic field produced by our geophysical instruments.  To make sure we only sensed buried archaeological features, we had to move part of a large rock pile away from our survey grid.  Some readers may remember moving this rock out of the excavation in 2009 – Doug, John, Myra and Hannah moved it again!

Experimental archaeology! We had to move this very heavy rock out of range of the survey instruments. It was quite an operation.


Today it was cold, windy, and rainy, and we had a visit from our friendly local backhoe operator!  Before Guðný starts to excavate, we needed to remove the soil down to the level of the 2009 excavation (which we had covered with a geotextile before backfilling).  John directed operations while the rest of us started shovel scraping.

John directing the backhoe driver to clear off the soil down to our 2009 excavation.


Tomorrow: backhoe and shovels, part II!

Author: Kathryn Catlin

Kathryn Catlin is an alumna of UMass Boston's Historical Archaeology MA program and a current PhD student in Anthropology at Northwestern University. Kathryn's research interests include the social and economic dimensions of settlement and colonization in Iceland, medieval England, and the colonial US. She is interested in developing survey techniques, including geophysical survey as well as more traditional archaeological methods, to describe relationships between the development of social inequality and the causes and consequences of environmental change. She has participated in numerous Fiske Center projects, including seasons in Iceland, Greenland, the Caribbean, and across New England.

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