Today we exposed the boardwalk in the entrance to the house completely. It is quite exciting as a feature; by the entrance is a huge posthole lined with boards (so deep we still haven’t reached the bottom), and to the left, when you go in to the house is a crawling space into a little side room – we think it might be a storage room, as it is so close to the entrance. Interestingly enough the entrance to the crawling space is marked by an antler – a hand rest – very much like we have at a crawling space in at the other side of our house. Enough on features – this is the post for the artefact of the day, and this artefact was found by Charlotta in the trampled grass floor covering the board walk in the corner where crawling space meets boardwalk. It is an ivory figurine, or doll, and we think it might have been a gaming piece due to its form. It has a hole in the back of its head which implies it might have been mounted on something.
For two days Chaz has worked on a project of his own in the southwest corner of the excavation block. With ‘new’ (in the stratigraphy these are the oldest) walls coming up we slowly have had to accept that we are not very likely to take the site down to natural this season either. However, we need to get an idea of what to expect, and we need to date the earliest phase of the site. Hence Chaz has been given the task to take said corner down to sterile, and is now digging through old, old house floor. Today he found a boot – which is the artefact of the day. It is a leather boot, beautifully preserved.
The last few days we have been founding a lot of basketry at the site, grass mats and baskets, different weaves and different sizes. The fantastic preservation at the site is no more apparent than when you’re faced with these astonishing pieces. The artefact of the day is a basket – originally found by Charlotta and then taken over by Sven (who’s been the grass master these couple of days). The basket is almost full, and has a rim of different wave. The craftsmanship is, as with most Nunalleq objects, very impressive.
The artefact of the day is a complete clay lamp, found by Sven in the entranceway to the house. The lamps we find at site are usually in very bad shape, and very rarely make it out of the earth in less than a thousand pieces. This lamp, the best lamp we found at the site to this date, made it into it protective wrapping in one piece. It is at least partially burnt, which might explain the stability (usually the lamps are made out of unburnt clay), and there are traces of seal oil still inside it.
Rick filmed this artsy indie documentary the other day “Driving home from site”. This is your chance to experience the village of Quinhagak from inside the van.
The artefact of the day was found by Justin, who works at the Burke Museum as ethnology outreach coordinator at the Burke museum, on his one-day visit to Nunalleq from Washington. It is a point sheath still lashed together and with the point inside. A pretty spectacular find – and need I say quite unique. Point sheaths are used to protect the points when not in use, and the come in all different sizes – from arrows to spears – depending on the point in need of protection. (A photo on the artefact will follow…)
We are half way through the excavation; where are we at after three weeks of excavation? We started by opening up 40 new square meters (they have now grown into 48). Over the last week we have been digging down through the different contexts and occupation phases – further back in time – and now we are almost at the same level as the large block that was first opened in 2014.
Recently the boardwalk we’ve been chasing almost since the beginning of the project – we first run in to it in 2010 – showed its face. This is not the latest ‘version’ of the boardwalk – but one that is covered by house floor. The boardwalk is a component that seems constant through the different ‘generations’ of houses – we recently found an even earlier walkway in the 2014 block, at exactly the same stretch as the later ones (already removed). The boardwalk seems to carry straight through the house and out through an entrance in the large northeastern wall – possibly the main entrance to the house. And with that said I have also revealed that we think we have found the back wall – and the end of the house. Very exciting!
Progress can also be seen in the part of the excavation block that was opened in 2014. The large truncated house floor from the time of the big men’s house has been removed, and and a large part of the debris – or leveling that was underneath it. An older wall is emerging from the rubble – and this means old house floors will soon emerge with it – far below the occupational periods we are hitherto familiar with. Even more exciting! The next few weeks we will keep defining and figuring out – so don’t forget to check in on the blog to see the mystery unravel.
We have also seen some faces come and go over the weeks. Our first week crew got shortened by one when Emily left to resume her ‘real’ life as a dancer, choreographer and director of her dance company Catalyst. The second person to leave was our volunteer and site engineer John, who after two weeks of moonlighting as an archaeologist also had to return to reality. His legacy can still be seen at the site in the form of some excellent stairs, that have proved quite necessary for climbing up and down or huge hole that gets deeper every day. Whilst Emily and John had to leave archaeology camp to return to a dirt free normality, Teresa – our total station master extraordinaire had to leave her archaeology vacation to return to real life… archaeology. Theresa, who normally works in Canada, came to help us out for the second year running – therefore she is now considered a permanent addition to the crew ;) . Through rain and sunshine, through midges and mosquitoes, through context after context of dirt our first year archaeologists Lindsey and Seton have become more and more familiar with the every day life of an archaeology, and more and more skilled archaeologists. At the end of three weeks neither house floors nor total stations could scare them anymore. We will sure miss them, their hard work, and their whims (not least top hits such as ‘Safety Chaz’ & ‘John the Engineer’). And last , but not least, our camp manager’s assistant, Roman also left with Lindsey and Seton.
However, new people have arrived to join the project (some of them bringing extraordinary gifts), so we are not yet short of hands :)