We had been very interested to see this football field since reports had reached us that thousands of cowries had been uncovered here, as well as glass vessels and Chinese pottery.
However, that meeting also made it clear that we were not going to be able to do much archaeological work on this site. The construction of the football field involved a mechanical digger stripping off the top 2 feet of soil (which will have been the past settlement layer). Sand dredged from the lagoon was then used to fill the field to create a stable playing surface, and then a layer of the removed archaeological soil put back on top of this. All fair enough in order to play football, but the worst possible case for the archaeologist.
Actually no, the worst case would have been if nobody remembered this had happened and we went on to blithely dig and try to interpret the stratigraphy. Because the stratigraphy, which we exposed when we did a quick check and excavated to 90cm depth, looked like this:
The white dredged lagoon sand stands out vividly. On either side of it is the archaeological layer, the remains of the past site: above, greyish brown, the stuff displaced by the digger (note the perfect straight line between the two layers, always a clue that something major has happened); and below, dark brown, all that remains of the archaeological layer in its correct place (and below it the yellowish sand with no artefacts in it). The dark brown layer was too thin for us to do much with.
We described the layers and moved on elsewhere to dig.