We got to the field yesterday. Bryan Thomas and Scott Oyagak (bear guard) from BASC, and Courtney Hammond, the new BASC intern, were joined by dental extern Audrey Navarro. We got the site uncovered, removing all the trash bags that had been pinned in place to help protect the actual surface. It had suffered some damage, so we laid out a gird of 1/4 m square units, took surface elevations, and started slowly removing and bagging the entire matrix of the first 1/4 meter in, in 5 cm levels. This was the most disturbed, and I could not find the floor level. If I couldn’t, it’s not surprising that the volunteers, two of whom were excavating for the first time, couldn’t do it. Bryan was mostly running the transit, since he’s done that a bit and is fine with the program (just needs more practice aiming the theodolite to get really fast–it’s harder for him since he’s a lefty and it is totally built for right-handed people). By the end of the day, there were a couple of hints of where the floor was, although one was much higher than the other.
There were hints of two levels of floor earlier this summer as we moved away from the hearth, perhaps due to a renovation of the structure which involved adding gravel to the floor/bench, so that might be what is showing up. It certainly doesn’t make figuring out where the floor is from a profile (I use the term very loosely, since we are talking about unconsolidated gravel here).
Today, I went out with Glenn Sheehan, from BASC, who is also an archaeologist by profession (also my husband), since I really needed someone else who could dig without direct supervision if I needed to run the transit, and Bryan and Scott. As it turned out, Glenn was able to find a small chert flake and then an ivory flake and follow out a level from there. Pieces of wood are turning up as well. Mike and Patsy Aamodt stopped by after checking their net and we chatted for a bit. They just came back from their cabin, where they had both nanuqs (polar bears) and brown bears hanging around. Amazingly, we’ve seen none yet this season, which is a first.
Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be very windy, and we were having trouble getting local volunteers since it is the Homecoming game for the Whalers football team. However, Nok Acker from BASC arrived to spell Scott so he could get home in time for his babysitter to go home, and had heard that a team of oceanographers who are in town want to go out tomorrow (probably because there is a small craft advisory so they can’t go boating 🙂 ), so we may go out anyway. Rain/snow/30 knot winds may mean a short day, but so be it. There is a bit of gravel that can be moved even if it’s too windy to excavate (or even expose the surface).
Anyway, now that we have the surface, we can follow it, record visible artifacts, and bring the matrix back for screening & flotation in the lab. Given the macro-fossil stuff and the micro-flakes, it’s the only way to get the structure excavated enough to find the edge before it gets wiped out by a storm.