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Baleen artefacts and house footprints

July 15, 2018

Heading out to site in a full van…

On the last day at site for the Sierra Club we made some pretty remarkable finds. A child’s bow made of baleen was found in the old house (you can read more about this on the ‘artefact of the day’). Another unusual baleen artefact was found in the ‘old house’.


A piece of plaited baleen basketry. This is a unique find at the site, it is the only baleen basketry we have. It is generally assumed that baleen basketry is a post-contact craft, something that is clearly disproven by this artefact.


The Sierras last day of digging

In the eastern trench we have now reached the earliest (last from our perspective) occupation levels, and we are starting to see the original footprint of the house. A ‘new’ house floor appeared under a sod wall, giving our oldest house a cruciform shape – typical for a Thule house. For some reason this layout was changed later on in the house’s life, when a wall was built, and a side room removed.


Archaeology in action

We have also started working on the last (earliest) house floors in the northwestern corner of our old trench, where we have had what might be the last properly preserved boardwalk in the house.


Boardwalk between two sod walls

This is a passage way between side rooms we believe.


Anna on the maybe-last boardwalk

We were hoping to get a nice drone picture of the boardwalk, but it was far too windy for the drone to fly, so Rick used the old fashioned method to get an image from above…


Rick and Michael performing ‘take picture of boardwalk in wind’


Anna planning

Two weeks excavation have produced an abundance of artefacts that have been cleaned and treated by the lab crew. During the large crewed Sierra week we have even had lab crew in the field lab – Elli and Amanda have been in charge of artefacts in the field.


 Elli, Amanda and Frances with freshly cleaned artifacts in the conservation lab at the new Nunalleq Culture and Archaeology Center. Frances is a conservator from the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory who has volunteered to run the lab this summer. Elli and Amanda are archaeology students from the University of Aberdeen.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Marilyn F. permalink
    July 15, 2018 15:01

    What amazing photos and descriptions of all your hard work. Wonderful to see all the incredible progress you’re making, and the plaited baleen basket, proving a new time-line to the age of making baskets.

  2. Jim Hall permalink
    July 21, 2018 04:32

    Frances – this is so cool!!

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