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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cool Finds

An exotic chert microblade - microblades are only found in Kodiak's earliest sites
At the end of last year we thought we were pretty close to bottoming out in our excavation block, and on the last day we did bottom out on one side of the block.  So this year we thought it would only take a few days at most to get to the bottom of last year's excavation.  It turns out that the deposits are far, far deeper than we expected and that the shallowest part of the site is where we did bottom out last year. The rest of the excavation block is much deeper.  At the end of last year I think we had only gotten about half way to the bottom.

The bottom layer of the site is quite thick and seems to represent about 2000 years of repeated visits to the site.  Everything is quite mixed up, but towards the river and valley floor there tends to be thicker deposits where the inhabitants dumped trash over the bank slope.  Further away from the bank edge the deposits are thinner and there are more living surfaces - hard red or black stained surfaces that represent the floors of old shelters. This portion of the site is littered with old post holes.

Most of the artifacts from the bottom layer of the site are stylistically characteristic of Kodiak's Early Ocean Bay II Tradition - ie they date to around 5 to 6 thousand years ago.  However, we have also found a few artifacts that are typically found in only the earliest sites on Kodiak Island.  These include an unground adze head used to carve wood, a microblade, and a finely-flaked, chipped stone point made of basalt imported from the Alaska Peninsula.

The latter finds indicate that Alutiiq people probably first lived at the site sometime around 7000 years ago.  Unfortunately where we are currently digging all evidence of this earlier time period has been churned up by the later occupants.  5 to 6 thousand years ago there was a lot of digging and dumping going on where we are currently digging, and I have not entirely figured out why.

I do know that we are finding quite a few ground slate bayonets typically used to hunt sea mammals and the ground slate knives used to butcher them.  So it seems likely that the site was a place where people stayed while hunting and butchering sea mammals.  We have not found the wide variety of tool types typically found at a more permanent settlement.

In any case, I do not expect to figure out what was going on at the site after just 2 short field excavation seasons. The site is very complicated and large.  So far we have only excavated a small portion of the site.  We need to excavate other areas of the site to get an idea of what was going on elsewhere on the hillside. But in the meanwhile we continue to find cool stuff!


Jesse with a bayonet midsection

Jesse found a few bayonets and 2 of the pieces even refit back together

Leslie with the tip of a flensing knife

Arielle's toy flensing knife - we've now found 3 tiny, non-functional tools that seem to have been toys

Rome with the tip of a bayonet that he found

Nicole shows off a toy bayonet

1 comment:

Molly Odell said...

More toy bayonets. That's really cool!