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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We start to excavate the house

Today we started to excavate the Early Russian period house in earnest. It turns out that the house floor is only a centimeter or so thick. Is this because people did not live in the house for very long or did the occupants keep it super clean? Judging by the midden pile (read garbage dump) outside it looks like the former. The midden associated with the house is relatively thin, and this leads me to believe that the house was not occupied for a long period of time. Mark and I guess people lived there for less than 10 years.

While the housefloor is thin we have found quite a few artifacts. These include: a brass button, a piece of leather, a copper ring, glass beads, bits of ceramics, a 'lead spur' created when the occupants poured lead into a bullet mold. and an abrader and associated metal 'pin'. Lots of stuff and we have only excavated a little bit of the house. But really - relatively little metal or European goods. It looks like the house is early enough that the Alutiiq had not yet been flooded with 'European junk'.

Out in the midden in front of the house we also found a gun butt plate and a type of barnacle that only grows on humpback and sperm whales. Cool stuff - the Alutiiq who lived in the house obviously owned and used firearms and hunted whales. If you read the historic literature the Alutiiq were not supposed to own guns. Lydia Black, a renown Russian America scholar, always told me that the Alutiiq were allowed to own firearms and what we've found seems to support her viewpoint.

We've also determined that the siderooms associated with the house had roofs covered with sods while the main room appears to have had a roof of thatched grass. We've even found preserved wooden roof beams. I can't wait to excavate the rest of the house!

Photos: Marks screens the backdirt while Miriam and Amy excavate inside of the house. Bottom - the crew at work. Note Mark supervising the crew excavating the midden outside of the house in the distant middle.

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