A Cold Day at Nuvuk

It has been a busy week, with all sorts of things to do after the day’s fieldwork was over and the data was downloaded and backed up, including a public meeting (which will need to be rescheduled because the weather was nice and the TV didn’t get it on the announcement roll-around in time), baking dozens of cookies for the community potluck my employer was holding, and dealing with the aftermath of a minor ATV accident involving one of the students (she is fine, but wrenched an already sore shoulder and therefore will be on limited duty next week). We have tomorrow off, so I’ll provide more details and pictures on the fieldwork then.

Just a quick note while I try to get the flash card downloading. The pictures are all shot as hi-res JPEGs and RAW, so it takes forever. I doubt I can stay up long enough to post pictures tonight.

We worked today. Normally we do fieldwork Monday-Friday, because the students are paid by the hour (so they get practical job experience as well as archaeological training) and child labor laws make it complicated to work more than that, especially for the younger students. We had a vacation day on Monday, though, and since it’s a short season and some of the students are trying to earn money we decided to do a 5-day week anyway. In the end, only 5 of them made it to work today. One was out of town, Trina was taking part in a fundraiser for the basketball and volleyball teams, two were sick, one was hurt and we don’t know what happened to the other one. It was wicked cold this morning, so hats off to Rochelle, Trace, Nora, Warren and Victoria. Not only was it cold, it was windy & foggy (yes, at the same time). In fact, it was so foggy we were having trouble with the transit because the lens and/or the reflector kept getting obscured by water drops. And it rained before lunch, and toward the end of the day.

However, as compensation, we finished excavation of the first burial of the season.  It turned out to have been disturbed, probably in the late 1880s, judging by the artifacts scattered along an old ground surface along with some of the individual’s bones.  We found some very cool artifacts (a bit unusual for Nuvuk burial excavations) although they weren’t really in the burial.  Highlights were a copper end-blade (for a harpoon head or possibly arrow), a split blue glass bead, and best of all, the cartridge for a shoulder gun.  The last still seems to have a bit of black powder around the primer area, so we have it in VERY wet conditions, and I will try to clean it tomorrow before there is any chance of the powder drying at all.  Our bear guard, Larry Aiken, who is a whaler, said it was the oldest style, shorter than the ones they use now.

As further compensation, we decided to order our lunches from the fundraiser, so Trina brought 13 lunches to the end of the road to Nuvuk (called my cell before she headed out), and Larry took a trailer back to get them.  So we all had BBQ chicken, potato salad, rice, pancit and a hot dog for lunch, along with the hot beverage of our choice and chips courtesy of Nora!  Even with the big propane cooker going the tent was cold enough to see our breath.  We hung in and finished the burial, and tested the areas where two other single human bones had turned up in a trail.  Neither one had a grave beneath it.  We already have 3 other probable graves, based on subsurface indications in STPs, waiting for us next week.

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