Friday, July 20, 2012

Community Archaeology Week 1

Ashleigh studiously taking notes at lunch time

Andrea holding a toy bayonet

Tatiana with two pieces of a bayonet that refit

Caitlin and a bayonet tip

We have finished the first week of our excavation. We had amazing weather and we know full-well that we have had more than our fair share of good luck on that front.

On Wednesday we finished removing what we call Level 2 - a 3800 year old volcanic tephra containing very little cultural material (re: no artifacts). It was a slow day for those who had their hopes up after finding quite a few cool things on Tuesday. Today did not disappoint though. With L2 gone, we were able to start digging in Level 2A - a mixed up deposit consisting of bits of older volcanic tephras, gravel, pebbles, glacial till, and cultural material such as charcoal and artifacts. This level is from the Ocean Bay II time period (~5000 years old). This is the level in which we found most of our bayonets and other ground slate tools last year. In this excavation it appears to be the same.

Tatiana started off the morning with the base of a bayonet. Just a few minutes later John found the tip of the same bayonet just a few feet away. It is pretty cool to find two pieces of a tool that broke 5000 years ago and put them back together. And as if refitting one point wasn't enough for one day, Ashleigh later found two pieces of a rather large bayonet that refit as well. Caitlin was stoked to find her first bayonet.

You might be wondering, do we find anything besides bayonets??? Well, not really. There were a couple worked pieces of red chert (a point base and a side blade), a couple of red chert flakes, a single basalt flake, and a pumice abrader. That was about it for today. The artifact assemblage is still supporting our hypothesis that this was a seal hunting camp.

In one of these photos you can see Andrea holding a toy bayonet found a couple of days ago. We believe that this is a toy based on the way it was manufactured. Someone took great care in making the base and even serrated the edges. The body of the point however isn't even ground - it's just shaped. This is nothing like the other beautifully ground bayonets we find. Children are often invisible (or ignored) in the archaeological record, so it is exciting to find something that strongly suggests that at least one child played at this site.

If you want to follow our finds in near real-time, check out the Alutiiq Museum's facebook page (thanks to the iPhone, we are able to email photos and video to Amy who posts them on the facebook page throughout the day).

Tiffany, Andrea, and Caitlin digging through 5000 year old deposits (L2A)
Jill excavating a pile of hearth debris

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