Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nearing the end of our excavation

Tomorrow is our last day digging at Mikt’sqaaq Angayuk for this season. We have been lucky to find lots of fauna for my dissertation research. On the other hand, we still have not found many diagnostic artifacts to tell us what time period each midden is from. Since my last post we have opened up another small hole to look for Koniag midden between 800 and 300 years old. We have found lots of fire cracked slate in that unit which suggests that it is Koniag. Koniag middens are full of fire cracked rock from banyas, or steam baths. The shells are also very well preserved in this unit with lots of whole clams, mussels, and snails. I hope that means it is more recent than the other middens, but that is not necessarily true. Luckily we have found lots of charcoal that we can have radiocarbon dated.
We have now excavated midden in four different places at Mikt’sqaaq Angayuk. It is really interesting to see the differences between the middens. At this point it is difficult to tell how much of the variation is temporal and how much is spatial – but based on what we found last year, some of it is definitely temporal.  Some of the midden layers very shell-rich, while others are full of fish. Some layers have diverse fish assemblages with cod, salmon, halibut, greenlings, and sculpins, while other layers are almost exclusively cod. Other areas are rick in chitons, periwinkles, or whelks. I can’t wait to get some radiocarbon dates and see how old these layers are!
In the top photo I am holding a bone fish hook barb.
The second photo is of a ground slate ulu.
In the bottom photo Emily is digging in a mussel, chiton, and clam-rich shell midden (hopefully between 800 and 300 years old).

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