perjantai 11. toukokuuta 2007

Week 1 in Review

So our first week of excavation is complete, and now its time to go over what we've found. Early on, we were already uncovering lots of pottery fragments and quartz debris, suggesting the "between" spaces we're exploring may have been sites of tool production or storage. While it's too early to make any conclusive hypotheses about what we're finding, the spatial distribution of the material remains provide us some interesting clues; the two wings of L-shaped trench we started with are dense with decayed pottery, bits of charcoal (particularly valuable to us for dating the site), quartz flakes, and some very small segments of bone, while the middle of the L is virtually empty. Intriguingly, one section of the trench has a very deep leached layer (Finnish soil is highly acidic, and underneath the organic surface is a layer of grey-white sand that has been entirely stripped of nutrients) compared to the area around it. While this probably doesn't raise any eyebrows outside of the archaeological community, it may point to human interference. If the soil had been disturbed and was originally more even, that area could have been used for any number of activities, and excavating it fully will become a top priority in the next few weeks.

As the week progressed, we began to extend our original trench in the areas where we were getting the most artifacts. The new extensions, which add 5 1X1X1 m squares onto our L (itself composed of 7 1X1X1 squares), look very promising: we've uncovered large quartz fragments, which were likely portions of larger tools, some more substantial bone samples, and lots and lots of ceramics. On top of our main excavation site, we're looking into a large, mysterious feature nearby. It's still too early to say what exactly it is, but we opened a trench along a small pit inside the "Thing" (as we have quite specifically named it) and found some charcoal, some fire-cracked rocks, and most intriguingly, a handful of charred seeds. Once again, a find like this is far more exciting for an archaeologist or paleoecologist than a normal, sane person. That said, charred seeds are a definite jackpot in an environment that leaves very little organic materials for us to examine. Like all important discoveries in archaeology, they give us a handful of answers and a handful of questions. Until we know what they are and when they were burned, however, we'll have to keep our wild theories about them to ourselves.

Pictures are coming in the near future, once we get some time to sit down in the lab and process all the data we've collected. However, tomorrow we head off to Rovaniemi to the Arctic Prehistory Museum, and then Sunday we may all need some time to relax a little. We'll make a concerted effort to get some cool pictures online (maybe even the seeds) some time over the weekend.

That's all for now,
The Field School

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