maanantai 14. toukokuuta 2007

Day 6: Slag, Vetch, etc.

Today was press day, which, as is expected with a small-scale, long-term archaeological dig, brought out the paparazzi in droves. If one were to look tomorrow in Kaleva, the local Finnish newspaper, there's a small chance they might see us. Oh yes, we have finally made it to the big leagues.

The actual news of the day comes from our as-of-yet-unidentified mysterious feature. First, the seeds that we found there may be a species of plant, similar to peas, known as "Hairy Vetch". Hairy vetch, while not a plant that suggests domestication, is often found in areas that were recently cleared and deforested by humans - this gives us some interesting clues about what was going on at the site. As well, some of the seeds have tiny holes in them, which the paleoecologist we contacted theorized may be weevil holes. Some weevils, usually associated with stored grain (an exciting possibility for us), lay their larva in seeds (or vetch); over time, the weevil larva feed on the inside of the seed and grow, and burst out of the hole provided once fully mature. If they are larva holes, and if it is hairy vetch, then we can assume that some fairly complex activities were going on in the area. The question, of course, is when. What we might be excavating is a palimpsest, or a site with multiple occupations at different time periods that are not clearly separated.

Above: The possible Hairy Vetch. Asides from having one of the more melodious names in prehistoric botany, the presence of these seeds points to complex social activities like food storage and land clearance. Note the holes; prehistoric weevil larva may once have lived inside.

The second big find to come from our mystery feature is a big chunk of iron slag. Slag is the leftover junk that is removed from iron ore when it is being smelted, or purified into a usable form. We're still in the process of examining the slag we found to see if we can figure out what process was used to make it, but this is definitely a very exciting find. The iron age is very sparsely documented in Northern Finland, and this slag piece may extend the range of time in which we are examining social change in the region. This reinforces the idea that this area was reoccupied, possibly multiple times, and if we can figure out what specific process was used, we can figure out where it came from originally, and what trade networks brought it there.

Above: A microscopic close-up of the iron slag. Andre says it looks like it's "from Mordor", but we hope to find a more reasonable point of origin. It's still early but once we know more about the slag, more pictures will follow.

Anyways, things are moving quickly here, and we have a lot of information to process and theories to test before we can sleep.

That's all for now,
The Field School

1 kommentti:

potsoc kirjoitti...

Félicitations pour votre blog. Depuis le début, c'est le meilleur pour les photos et les commentaires. Nous avons hâte d'en connaître plus sur 'The Thing"
Adré's folks