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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Getting back deep in time at the Kashevaroff Site

Ashley and an ulu from near the top of the site

 It has been a super busy week at the Kashevaroff Site.  On Monday we still had some deposits that dated to the last 500 years or so, but by yesterday our entire block was back to at least 5000 years.  I do most of the screening and I can tell you that we have moved A LOT of dirt.  Our backdirt pile is beginning to look like a Mayan temple.

Today it rained and we did not dig.  This was not such a bad thing because it gave us a chance to clean artifacts, dry samples, start cataloguing, and to assess where we are at on the excavation.  And for me it was a badly needed day of recovery - I'm exhausted from all the screening!

The site is turning out to be far more productive than anticipated.  It is really deep.  So far we have found 3 components each representing a different occupation at the site.  We have found a 300 to 500 year old late prehistoric fish camp complete with ulus and a small house at the top of the site.  A 2 to 3 thousand year old hunting and/or fishing camp - we did not find any features associated with this layer.  And finally, a 4 to 5 thousand year old hunting camp complete with lots of bayonets for hunting sea mammals and some sort of processing structure.  And we are not even close to the bottom and oldest layers of the site.  We have also found some chipped stone lances that hint at another, much earlier occupation at the site.  I am hopeful, and keeping my fingers crossed, that we may have the entire gamut of Alutiiq prehistory from 300 to 7000 years present in one spot.

For such a small creek (Salonie Creek) at the head of a fairly non-descript bay (Womens Bay) the number and variety of prehistoric sites we have found in the area is surprising.  I am beginning to wonder if perhaps there once was a lake behind the beach berm in the Salonie Creek Valley - maybe with a run of red salmon?  I think we need a geologist to help us reconstruct the geomorphology of the valley.  It is becoming clear that the area was the focus of a great deal of prehistoric activity - far more than I would expect for such a small creek valley.

I have also been struck by the number of complete lances we have found thus far at the site.  Usually almost all of the tools you find at a site are broken, but not at this site.  We are not finding a large variety of tool types - mostly just hunting gear - so it looks like it was mostly a hunting camp.  I am wondering if the prehistoric inhabitants were simply leaving their gear at the camp and coming back for yearly visits.  And that often they would not return to collect it or it would get lost in a run down shack etc.  At a continuously occupied village such tools would not get a chance to get 'lost' and would only be discarded when they were broken.  It's something to think about.  Patrick

Ryan of Terrasond and John came by on Monday to do some ground penetrating radar at the site (I'll be doing a full blog post on this shortly)

Ariel and a bayonet from deeper down in the site

A large, complete lance with an incised design

Chipped stone lances from the deeper layers of the site

Another complete ground slate lance

Many of the bayonets have bases with serrated stems

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