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50 squares opened?!? Are we insane?

August 4, 2013
Just a reminder how beautiful clouds can be

Just a reminder how beautiful clouds can be – especially when resting on the Bering Sea

Although it may not have felt like it for the crew – today has been a really productive day, and makes a very good ending to our first week of excavation (well, it has only been four days so far, but we have Sundays off, and it’s not a bad idea to have a shorter week to reintroduce all those unused muscles to the physical hardships of an excavation).

The bug squad – ready for another calm day on the tundra.  Cheryl, Ella, Celeste, Lindsey, Jessie

The bug squad – ready for another calm day on the tundra.
Cheryl, Ella, Celeste, Lindsey, Jessie

We couldn’t keep our promise of “excavating all day”, as we felt the need to open those new squares in area B as soon as possible. With the vegetation cleared the little mound is even more prominent, and the edges are quite clearly defined (we think). To judge from the section in the erosion profile the cultural deposits are going to be at least a meter deep. This site will not last another winter; its location couldn’t be more coastal – in fact we will be working up to the very edge of the tundra.

Area B from the beach

Although we only plan to excavate nine Carly taking charge(and a bit) squares in Area B, we wanted to get a proper overview of the area, so 16 squares have been deturfed today. Site with a viewIt’s a big job for a small crew that so far have not done much else than carried sod blocks, even though this is our fourth day in the field – but it did result in the best sod-fort on this side of the Arolik ;). We also have all the boring tasks done by now – next week will be all excitement.

Ellen & Carly guarding their fort

Ellen & Carly guarding their fort

Screens are here!Adding to the excitement Kent and Mike arrived with the fantastic new screens they’ve designed and built for us for fine sieving, with a removable smaller size mesh screen under the regular one to catch small faunal remains and artefacts. They’re state of the art! We can’t wait to get them all mucky 🙂

Mike and Kent - screenmakers

Mike and Kent – screenmakers

While mad deturfing was carried out at one of the exposed deposits, at another one James and his cross section(yes we have too many deposits exposed by erosion). James was cutting a section through the erosion edge all the way to the sand to get an understanding for what kind of soils and long term deposits we are dealing with. For an exciting moment he thought he had found buried peat underneath what we have thought to be the natural – but it turned out to be a result of the collapsing edge. Even so the section will be very informative (albeit a little less exciting, but with fewer complications from excavation perspectives. Imagine if you would have go look for sites a meter further down when you hit the natural).

Starting to excavateEdouard showing the tricksNow – it wasn’t all turf today. In the afternoon the large part of the crew returned to our southeast block and started trowelling (to great relief for most people). And even though we’re still in the turf layer artefacts started to appear almost immediately. We are taking this first context down to expose the burnt sod layer that we know to be the roof of our house. Hopefully we will find the outline of it, and maybe even a corner that can tell us something about the architecture and orientation of the house. Only the future can tell!

Finally using trowels!

Finally using trowels!

Celeste - all the way from Australia to see some Alaskan dirtSo all and all a very productive day, Excavation has started for real in the southeast block, and a whole new area is deturfed and ready to be dug into on Monday. The Sunday break will give it time to melt now when that protective layer of turf is removed – because just a few centimetres down the ground was frozen solid in this area. However, with the new squares added to the reopened squares from last year, and the newly opened ones in the southeast block – we have now a total of 50 squares open (and I don’t dare to translate that into square meters), and this on a crew smaller than the one we had last year – but with an additional week of excavation time. So – to answer that initial question; Yes, we are.

Area B in all its glory

Area B in all its glory


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