What came before we were so rudely interrupted by Mother Nature

Things got rather busy around here, since I hadn’t actually been planning to be in the field, and had several other things going at work that required some time and attention.  Combined with rather chilly weather and a commute that did my no-longer-fused spine no favors, I wound up putting sleep ahead of updating the blog.  Now that the fieldwork is done & I’m getting everything else caught up, time for an update on what happened before the season ended.

We managed to get quite a bit accomplished before the weather stopped us.  Fortunately, the entrances to the lagoons closed up, and we generally had less trouble getting to the site in September, thank goodness!  In the end, we had just hit frozen ground at the back corner of the excavation when everything started freezing up.  This is good, since that means everything behind/below that should still be in great shape if erosion doesn’t get to it before we can.  We actually had some really lovely days.  And enough wind so no bugs!

Lagoon and tent on a nice day.

Lagoon and tent on a nice day, as seen from the excavation.

The floor that we had encountered in the south end of the trench cleaned up nicely.  There had been a pot in the corner, but all that was left was a pile of smashed sherds.  The digging of the pit that someone had put in above it had probably smashed what was left.  Near where the arrow shafts were found was an area of floor so soaked with marine mammal oil that you could actually wipe it off of one patch of floor.  It seems most likely that this was a tent floor, since there was no evidence of structure otherwise, and it was not far enough below the surface for a semi-subterranean house.

Probable tent floor after cleaning.  Pot was located in the lower left corner, left of the stick.  The oil patch surrounds the North arrow.

Probable tent floor after cleaning. Pot was located in the lower left corner, left of the stick. The oil patch surrounds the North arrow.

The house (at least I think it was a house) proved very complex.  The small area we were able to open was not big enough to let me see what was going on well enough to be definite.  However, there seem to have been several floors.  We were not able to get down to them before freeze up, but we determined that there were several layers of midden (trash deposit) on them, so it would appear that the house must have been abandoned and reused, rather than just rebuilt.

VIew from the side showing

View from the side showing several layers of floor logs above the sill logs & below the green bucket.

At some point in the sequence, it looks like the structure may have had a meat cache pit (sort of the forerunner of today’s ice cellars) in it.  There was a distinct line of hardened red marine mammal oil

IMG_0754

North edge of the meat pit. Caribou jaw lying along the sloping side just to the left of the North arrow. The red oil layer continued under the plank.  The north logs were above the edge of the pit, but there was a layer of midden in between, so they were not associated.

IMG_0068

Another view of the red oil level underneath some logs (possibly 2 separate floors). Notice the seal scapula used as a chock under the plank on the right.

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Another view of the red oil layer showing it sloping up to the right. Note that the apparent sill logs for the main structure are below what is visible in the picture.

We got all the way to the bottom of the large post in the northern half of the trench.  It turned out to be a later addition, dug into an existing midden, and chocked with a seal sacrum, a walrus vertebra and a broken pick head.  There were two smaller (and apparently earlier) posts very close to it, one of which had a deposit of shell next to it.  That will be interesting if we can ID any of them.

Post, showing sacrum and vertebra used as chocks.

Post, showing sacrum and vertebra used as chocks.

Post with pick used as chock at base to left of North arrow.

Post with pick used as chock at base to left of North arrow.

A view of the excavation.  NO, the wall was not curved; this is a raw iPhone panorama shot, & that happens.  Our walls are straighter than that!

A view of the excavation before the post and north logs came out.  NO, the wall was not curved; this is a raw iPhone panorama shot, & that happens. Our walls are straighter than that!

 

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One response to “What came before we were so rudely interrupted by Mother Nature

  1. This is absolutely stunning to see!

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