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The first rule of being a Scientist of the Week…

August 22, 2012

Science is Serious Business

Throughout the ages of the past 3 weeks here in Quinhagak, an esteemed order of scholars has been at the forefront of discovery and scientific insight. Though shrouded in mystery, they are known simply as the scientists of the week.

At the beginning of our grand expedition, the archaeologists were lost and in desperate need of guidance in their scientific endeavors. From this chaos, a Scientist of the Week (henceforth known as SofW) was called forth. This first innovator was Gavin – chosen for his mastery of the intricacies of surveying equipment from the 1980s, a time he’d heard of from the elders. Presented with the SotW trowel, his guidance formed the foundation of this elite, learned society.

However, the next week saw a break from this grand tradition with the naming of two Scientists – Carly and Andrius. Though esteemed scholars in their own right, the depths of their true contributions, and thus the true motivations for their nominations, remain a mystery. There are many rumors surrounding the namings, but it is suspected that Andrius’ great skill in labeling artifacts secured his position. Carly’s innovative method of finding unmissable objects, such as large wooden silverware, in the screens as opposed to in context caught the attention of the directors and secured her position for week 2.

The final two, Holly and Sanni, distinguished themselves through their masterful, delicate exposure of every piece of wood on site, particularly the tunnel feature, which they were overjoyed to find out was just a boardwalk. Each discovery of new planks elicited cries of joy from the two. Holly further distinguished herself by becoming an expert at extracting trapped archaeologists from holes on the tundra (mostly just herself). She also participated in what she was assured was a Yup’ik tradition by eating the still-beating heart of a freshly caught fish, along with previously inducted members Carly and Andrius – exemplifying their dedication to science in every realm. Returning archaeologist Sanni proved her commitment to discovery by sitting on bare permafrost for hours a day to excavate what was once thought to be the beginning of the tunnel, but in fact was simply a deep, frozen paradise.

These five masters of inquiry have led the efforts to uncover the secrets of the quickly disappearing Nunalleq site. Their groundbreaking methods are sure to guide generations of field school students in the years to come. For the foreseeable future, the group must go their separate ways, awaiting their next call to action. As the summer draws to a close and the unpredictable fall weather sets in, it is impossible to say how many of these artifacts would have been lost in the approaching storms. One thing is for sure though: Winter is Coming.

Gavin & Carly

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