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End of four weeks at Nunalleq

July 30, 2018

Saturday was our ‘last day’ digging at Nunalleq for this season – according to our plan for the season. It will not be though, as we have not finished the site down to sterile soil, which we have to do this year. The sea is too close, and the cultural deposits are too small to be worth covering up and re-open next year, so we’re carrying on into next week with a minimised crew. Michael and Sean left on Friday, Jonathan left on Saturday and Lucy and Mike left this morning.

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Jonathan and Sean leaving site after Sean’s last day in the field

The new trench (T-block) have caught up, and we are now excavating the same older house – but different generations of it.

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The left part of the excavation block still with boardwalks and house floors, the right part of the excavation block is mostly down to natural, and you can see the original house pit dug into the natural if you look carefully

It is clear that the first house is considerably smaller than the new house on top of it. In the picture you can see the entrance way discovered last week, the smaller planks mark the outside of the entrance tunnel, with a step down through the wall leading into the house.

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Close up of the boardwalk

The last (first generation) of house floors have proven to be very thin and does not contain many artefacts, so most of the special finds have come from T-block this week.

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Rick with a dog harness made of braided grass

37991254_2035344439833814_5481005480950104064_nA finely polished and very sharp chisel bit. It is made from high quality nephrite jade, probably from the Kobuk river, north of the Seward Peninsula and many hundreds of miles north of the site. We’ve also found several drill bits made from the same material.

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Almost complete grass basket

However, some nice surprises still come from the last remaining house floors in the old excavation block. Like this stylised ivory seal found by Amanda.

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Preservation of grass and wood remains excellent even in the oldest house floor deposits, but bone and antler are in very poor condition in comparison to the deposits above. If this is due to age, the wet conditions or is a result of thawed permafrost speeding up the deterioration we do not know, but the difference is striking. Maybe we will get an answer in the future.

Unfortunately the weather was not collaborating on this the last official day of digging, and we had to break after lunch and go back to camp, as the rain made the exposed natural clay dangerously slippery…

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End of week four crew picture

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathleen Niskanen permalink
    July 31, 2018 05:55

    I have so enjoyed seeing the progress of this wonderful project. Wish you the very best this next week. Thank you

  2. Catherine Wessells permalink
    July 31, 2018 13:06

    Thank you for making the updates and photos available. Very intriguing.

  3. elizabeth roll permalink
    August 16, 2018 06:06

    Glad you can work a Little more on the T block we helped you in last month. Hsng in there with this monsoon weather!

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