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The joys of Arctic Archaeology

August 29, 2012

Fantastic as it is, fieldwork in the Arctic treats you to its special forms of hardships, of which we had our shared part this season. Most uncompromising of them all is the permafrost. Most of us diggers hit frozen ground at least once, and in the end permafrost forced us to lay down our trowels with our mission uncompleted – the six squares in house five could not be taken down to natural as planned. However, permafrost also proved to have its uses when Edouard (to some peoples amazement and surprise) froze his melted chocolate bar in the bottom of a permafrosted pit one of the warmest days in the field. The ice even allowed us some entertaining minutes of snowball fight. Less entertaining is the hardship we call bugs. In fact, it’s hard to see any merit in this little (but ample) terror. As nice as warm and sunny weather is, you couldn’t help fearing it just a little, especially if it was a still morning. Still means bugs, and while mosquitoes at least have the good sense to avoid sunlight, the no-see-ums (as we call the biting midges), have no such scruples. They are everywhere, and if you hide in an especially deep pit, they are sure to take shelter there with you – where the wind can’t reach them. Should the sun cloud over you can be sure they will be accompanied by the regular bloodthirsties – mosquitoes; particularly happy to bite in a pretty sunset. Nothing like a nice arctic storm to blow them away. Or to keep any sensible person inside. As been long since established, archaeologists are not sensible. In fact we are quite mad, and no rain or wind managed to keep us away from the field the last few days of excavation. It can’t be helped that it is quite exciting to work next to an outraged grey sea throwing itself at you from under a dark threatening sky. Quite exhilarating!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Warren permalink
    August 29, 2012 18:49

    You guys are true Alaskans the way you guys work, I was really impressed that no Southwestern Alaskan weather stopped you guys from digging! Good job everyone!


    • August 30, 2012 07:26

      Thank you Warren, but we couldn’t have done it without all the great support from you!

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