Saturday, July 28, 2012

Week 2 of excavations at Amak

Christy's bayonet
Claire's three bayonet bases

A chipped stone point I found on Wednesday
We had another week of amazing weather and beautiful artifacts at the Amak Site. It was buggy on a couple of days, but we can't complain! We continue to find lots of ground slate bayonets. I think the only day this week we didn't find at least one was the day a reporter from the Kodiak Daily Mirror showed up! On Thursday one volunteer found THREE bayonets in her square and another found two - more in one day than we have found at other sites of the same age in the entire excavation! And just to top that we found six yesterday, but I was so jaded I didn't even take pictures of them; I just wanted to keep digging. We've also found a few chipped stone points recently, made of chert, as well as pumice abraders (for straightening spear shafts), and whetstones (for sharpening bayonets).

The deposits at this site have been fairly confusing (at least to us!) but in the last three days we have started to feel like we understand what people were doing here. In the photos below you can see streaks and blobs of different colored dirt. These are bits of old volcanic tephras that have been moved around by people. In most of our excavation last year we did not find these tephras at all - meaning people had removed them. What we now believe is that where we excavated last year, people dug up the dirt ~5000 years ago and stacked up blocks of dirt with sod and vegetation on top. Now we are digging through those stacked sods.Take a look at the last photo of the sod wall we built when we opened up our excavation. Now imagine that wall after thousands of years - all compacted and melted together - it should look like the pattern we are finding now in our excavation. But we don't really know why people were digging up sod and stacking it. Usually Alutiiq people built their houses with sod, but we haven not found any good evidence of houses at this site. Hopefully digging a little deeper will help us figure this one out.

Remnants of stacked sod
Our sod walls

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