Thursday, August 05, 2010
On into the midden
Not only has Community Archaeology begun, but it is already 1/3 complete! This year, due to all the other Museum fieldwork commitments (Alitak and Penguk) the Community Archaeology dig is only 2 weeks long. So after just 3 days of digging we are already 1/3 of the way through the dig. Like last year we are excavating at the Miktsqaaq Angayuk site out on Cliff Point. Leisnoi Inc., the landowner, has kindly given us a special permit to work out there.
Last year we excavated an entire house from circa 1820, but with only a 2 week field season our goals for this year are much more contained. Rather than digging a whole house we are testing the other house pits in the area to see if they are also from the early Russian era, or if they are late prehistoric. We are also digging into the back of the mound looking for older midden deposits. Molly Odell is studying how people used shellfish through time at the site, and she already has analyzed the shellfish from the 1820 house and from the Late Kachemak midden (AD 1000). Now we want to find her some 3000 year old midden, and, hopefully, if the other houses turn out to be late prehistoric we will excavate a test in front of them to get some late prehistoric midden (AD 1600 or so). Then Molly would have samples from all the time periods to analyze.
So far so good, we have found a midden with excellent faunal preservation. Yesterday Leslie found a harpoon and I am hopeful that the midden is Early Kachemak. It was capped by a thick layer of rocks, gravel and charcoal stained soil and full of Kachemak style artifacts. Since the midden is below it - it is older. Now we got to find some charcoal to radiocarbon date or find an artifact diagnostic of the Early Kachemak era. As you can see from the bottom photo the faunal preservation is excellent. It is practically pure blue mussel shell.
Finally, we have just opened up one of our tests into the large housepits and have not yet found any historic artifacts. So I am hopeful that it is late prehistoric because last year we immediately found metal, glass and russian ceramics right on top of the floor of the house from 1820. I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Patrick