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Tying the knot

August 6, 2014

Yesterday started with a downpour of rain that lasted most of the morning. While Edouard, Rick, Vero, Chaz and Cheryl braved the elements, the rest of the crew returned home for a day catching up with the wet screening (no pun intended) and post-excavation work at base camp. By the end of the day, all the pottery and most of the lithics had been washed, and the weather had turned sunny and mild. Meantime, the team in the field finished removing the burnt layer and, in a final push, completed the trowelling, photography and planning of the entire excavation area.

We are now digging into the un-burnt, collapsed walls and other debris that overlay the house floors – quite a complicated stratigraphy. Rick and Chaz spent a significant amount of time packaging and recording a number of exquisite objects found under the moss layer in the northeast corner of Area D, including a 1.65m plaited grass rope and a tall bentwood box in perfect condition. This is the same spot that had already gifted various other artefacts. Except for Aaran, who stayed in Quinhagak to work on the faunal assemblage, the rest of us systematically removed and dry-screened over 180 buckets of dirt.


Rick and Chaz holding the largest rope found at the site to date

As has become habitual in the past two weeks, we had visitors at the site today. People regularly stop by, as they drive by through the beach on their way to pick berries or while enjoying a ride out in the tundra. Often, however, the dig is the destination. Older Quinhagak residents all mention being told about Nunalleq as children, and are able to offer much information about the artefacts and even the faunal remains we have been finding, tying their memories and knowledge of traditional life with the archaeological material culture. Many youngsters also show a real interest in what we are doing and several have been coming to help and learn more about archaeology and the site, which some of them discovered when on a school visit last year. Besides joining us at the excavation, they have also gone ‘behind the scenes’ and assisted us cleaning and washing artefacts. Village elders have expressed how they think ‘this is good for them’: working with these objects as a way of learning about an important part of Yup’ik history and their own cultural ties.


Gina Olse, Venessa Hunter, Kenneth Andrew and 'Apa' Ignatius Hunter help Teresa screen for artefacts and bones on site

Gina Olse, Venessa Hunter, Kenneth Andrew and ‘Apa’ Ignatius Hunter help Teresa screen for artefacts and bones on site

photo6   kids_washing_pottery

Venessa (left), Ignatius and Jeremy (right), Gina and Kenneth (off photo) help Ana clean the pottery found this year.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jeff permalink
    August 8, 2014 22:32

    Some fantastic pictures guys! Great job on showcasing the finds and the community participation. All the best from sweltering Manitoba.

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