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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Beginning of the Adventure

I have been in the field for 3 days now doing an archaeological excavation in Old Harbor.  I came down on Sunday with Chase, Catherine, Sam and Danielle, and we started to dig in earnest on Monday.  We will be here for 6 weeks and will excavate 3 different sites that are slated to be covered by an airport runway extension.  So far it has been a fun time.

We started out by cutting back the bank of the first site we will be working at to get a look at the profile.  The profile shows all the layers we will find when we later excavate from above.  It also clearly shows the charcoal stained lens that we found last year and that piqued our interest to dig at the site.  Last year we thought it might be an early Kachemak smoke processing pit, but radiocarbon analysis tells us it is 7200 years old.  I thought this had to be wrong, and closely examined the profile to figure out how I could have been fooled so badly.

And I think we got it figured out.  It seems there is an earlier component associated with a living surface we uncovered today at a different part of the site.  We are excavating two blocks on the site.  At the block away from the profile we did find artifacts that seem to date to the Kachemak era (ca 3500 years ago), and we also found this layer above a thick volcanic ash layer that caps our charcoal lens.  So people seem to have camped and used this spot TWO times in the past, and the old charcoal stained lens looks like it really is 7200 years old.  I believe it might well be a smoke processing feature of some sort too.  We have not excavated it yet, but it clearly is quite small and seems to be ringed by old post holes.  Perhaps it burned down. Anyway that’s what I think for now, and in the past I have been known to jump to hasty conclusions.  So we will see if my current theories hold up!

As to our field conditions and general crew morale I’ll let the pictures and captions tell the story.  Patrick

The flight down

Clean cut crew about to get dirty

On recon the first day

We start to cut back the profile

The profile with charcoal lens in the middle

Catherine and Sam examine the profile

Clean cut crew at the house after work

If you look closely you can see us exacting on top of the site

Lunch escaping the rain in the tarp tent

It was a little tight

After a hard days work

1 comment:

Molly Odell said...

You guys got some nice weather! Nice profile in the bank! Happy digging.