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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Fridays Finds

Community Archaeology Update - On Thursday it rained and we spent a day in the lab, but on Friday we had perfect digging weather. This year it seems to rain every other day, but at least the days in between are beautiful!

On Friday we continued the house excavation. In the un-attached sideroom Kunsang found a HUGE pile of fire cracked rock. It looks like this room was used as the banya. The rocks were probably brought in from the main house hearth and then water dumped on them to create a steam bath. The room also appears to have a bench along one side, and Kunsang even found well-preserved upright wood planks along the walls. Mark and I are a little miffed why the banya did not have a tunnel connecting it to the main room. The house inhabitants would have had to go outside and around to the side to get into the banya.

In the main room of the house the floor deposit is extremely thin and we have been excavating very carefully and 'point proveniencing' every artifact that we find (see second photo). When we point provenience an artifact we map its exact location on the floor and depth below the site datum. Later, we will be able to go back and put all of the artifacts onto the final map of the house. Jill found some lead bird shot and on the final map you will be able to see exactly where an Alutiiq hunter spilled his musket ammo. Also we plan on refitting together all of the pieces of ceramics that we have found and it will be interesting to examine the scatter pattern of individual plates and cups after they were broken and discarded.

Finally, on Friday we got into the lower level of the midden outside of the house. While the top layer of the midden was dominated by cod bones the lower layer is practically pure beach-collected invertebrates. Nothing but chitons, clams and sea urchin with a lot of blue mussel shell at the bottom. We also noted a pocket of herring bones. So it looks like this lower level represents a huge feast in April when the urchins and herring would have been available. Mark and I are a little bit miffed about why so few animal bones are represented in this lower level - where are the fish and sea mammal bones? Could this 'feast' actually represent the end of a hard winter where the occupants could find nothing to eat but what they collected on the beach? Perhaps all the household hunters and fishers were off working at a Russian artel and the shellfish represents all that the occupants could gather? It will be interesting to find out what more experienced archaeofaunal experts have to say on this one! Patrick

Photos: The excavation in progress as viewed from the top of a nearby tree. Second photo is of Amy, Alex and Jill point-proveniencing and artifact on the house floor. Third photo is of Miriam's adze. She wanted this to be artifact of the day, but it is actually a miss-placed artifact from the far older component of the site. Since it lacks provenience - its significance is much diminished. Fourth photo is a close up the lower midden - note all the sea urchin and chiton! Finally the bottom photo is of John and Hannah excavating the upper, cod bone rich, midden. Patrick

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