Thursday, August 4, 2011

Week 2 - a big pile of rocks

View from the Amak Site

Sketching what we've found the end of the day

The rock pile in the center of our excavation

Jill excavating on a rainy morning

Bundled up on our first cold day

Patrick going over his notes with Christy, Tamara, and Leslie
Another week of excavation is almost over at the Amak Site! We continue to find new things that challenge our interpretation skills. I've been focusing on the big rock pile in the center of the excavation. As I dug into the middle of it, I found more and more rocks. Some of them are really big. Neither Patrick or I have ever seen a feature like this on Kodiak, nor have we heard of anyone else excavating one on Kodiak. The nearest comparable things that we are familiar with are in the Aleutians where people lined the base of their house walls with rocks and in the Arctic where meat caches could be covered with rocks to keep bears out. Patrick saw this when he worked on Baffin Island in Canada. For several days now we have been leaning toward the cache hypothesis. The cache could have collapsed over time, or the rocks were tossed off when the cache was accessed later by the people who made it - explaining the lack of a clear shape or pattern where the rocks are located today. We are pretty sure, based on the artifacts, that this feature is about 4000-5000 years old. I hope to learn more after we map it and begin to remove the rocks. We would love to hear from anyone who has seen similar features elsewhere or has a possible interpretation!

We have also completed excavating the house or living surface that we initially thought was built after 3800 years ago. Now we are not as certain that the 3800 year-old tephra is below the house. It might be on top of the house, meaning the house was already there when the tephra fell. I am very interested to see what the radiocarbon dates tell us. I am going to guess that the house is 4000 years old! We have found several ground slate points on the floor of the house, suggesting that this was a hunting camp. The artifact assemblage still appears to be very different from other sites of the same age (very little lithic debitage, no netsinkers, only one line weight, only one possible ulu, but many ground slate points). At this point, it appears that we are uncovering a whole new type of Ocean Bay II site - the short-term hunting camp!

I'm excited to see what we'll find in our last two weeks. Undoubtedly we'll find things that change our interpretations, as you've already seen with our house floor. But mostlyI can't wait to move those rocks and see what's in the bottom of that pit! Check out Patrick's blog for more on our excavation.


  1. Aren't you glad I picked up your camera and took pictures of you? Like the post. Patrick

  2. Yes, thank you! I don't usually have any pictures of myself digging until I get your photos at the end of the season!

  3. Hey Molly - This is really great and a very helpful summation of yesterday's extraordinary day! Regards (and have a very good weekend) Leslie