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  • Writer's pictureE Stegmaier

St. Eustatius Airport Expansion Project: Day 20 (May 10, 2021)

I spent most of the day on-site today. It was exceptionally hot and windy, which is a bad combination because we couldn't set our tent up for fear it would blow away. We're already reduced to one tent because the wind twisted the frame of the other one. Sweating it out all day in the sun left everyone exhausted by early evening.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, I won't be showing photos of human remains on my blog or any social media, but we have started rolling out some of the drawings I've been doing. The first is this one, from Feature 40, showing the three phases of excavation. A few of the 7 total readers I have here are not on social media, so I'll re-post the pic here, with a special little treat: I'll include the field sketch of one of them so you can get a sense of how I work:

Here's the field drawing done at 1:10 scale on graph paper. There are grid lines on the paper- you just can't see them through the dirt. I actually cleaned this drawing up a bit before photographing it. They get pretty grubby very quickly in the field.

For the final rendering, I lay a sheet of vellum over the dirty field drawing and trace the outlines. Then I use a series of digital photos taken on-site to render the details and texture. The field drawing above produced the final drawing on the right.

To explain what you're seeing in that illustration:

Stage 1 (left) uncovered the outline of a coffin. This outline primarily consisted of stained soil caused by the erosion of wood. A grinding stone was found above the coffin, which may or may not be associated with the burial.

Stage 2 (center) unearthed part of the skull as well as large fragments of coffin wood. The coffin lid appears to have collapsed inward as the wood eroded over the centuries.

Stage 3 (right) removed most of the wood to expose the remains of the individual.

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