maanantai 19. toukokuuta 2008

Day 6 - May 19th: How to Make a Bog Body in One Easy Step...

Hope you all enjoyed your weekends and welcome to another week of archaeological adventures here at the Nocuso 2008 field school.

The title for the blog today is a little misleading, we did not find a bog body today, though that would have been incredibly cool (for those of you non-archaeologists a bog body is a well preserved body of a prehistoric human found in a bog, not a body found in a bog placed there by any sort of recent 'alternative' means...). The title refers to my tour with the survey team today exploring Finland's boggy wilderness looking for dwelling depressions. I'll start off with the goings on over at KKN, the Thing, and the Pits.

Trench T108 at KKN yielded much of the same today, with more quartz flakes, some ceramics, and even another bone find. Unfortunately we forgot the Total Station legs at the university today and had to do all the mapping with a datum and a line level, which takes a lot more time, but is a good thing to know how to do because not every excavation is lucky enough to have access to a Total Station.

Some interesting news comes our way from trench T208 over at the Thing. A fire pit was found in the west end of the trench which looks much like the hearth identified in trench T108, meaning it looks like a ring of enriched soil with some charcoal deposits in and around it.

Trench T308 over at the pits seems to be turning into a soil specialists dream. The trench is now 1.2 meters deep in the west side where the interesting double stratigraphy was noted last week. This allows us to see a very interesting cross-section of the soil layers in the wall. There also is a ring of hard pan (a very hard layer of iron rich soil which usually forms at about the water table) with leeched soil in the middle in the trench. Not sure what this means yet, we will let you know when we figure it out.

Moving on to the bog-tastic adventures of the survey team. Today the survey team found two possible new sites, two dwelling depressions in one and only one at the other, along the 50 meter coast line, which corresponds with roughly 4500 years BP. The large site found on Friday last week was mapped as well. I was part of the survey team today so I can elaborate on how the whole process is done, because it isn't exactly just wandering around the Finnish forest. Using GPS units, a compass, survey maps from the Finnish government, and a knowledge of prehistoric coast lines, the area is divided into transects to be explored by the survey team. Once we arrive at the transect we wish to survey we spread ourselves apart, placing one person every ten meters or so in a straight line along one side of the transect. We then walk through the transect while looking for dwelling depressions, a tell tale sign of prehistoric activity. After we finish a transect we move to the next one and repeat the process. Every time a depression is found it is marked on a GPS unit so it can be found again for future excavation. Now don't think this is at all easy. Several of these transects are done per day, this means that the survey team walks roughly five kilometers per day. Now you're thinking "five kilometers, that's not so bad". Before you make such hasty assumptions let me tell about the type of terrain we are dealing with: extremely dense forest and bogs, bogs, bogs. And some more bogs. And some bogs filled with decaying forest and remnants of what seems to be a lone man with a chainsaw who cuts down trees and just leaves them there to get in our way. Survey is damn hard work, and is fundamental to the archaeological endeavor, as this is how the sites are found in the first place!

So the moral of the survey story is that it is important, difficult work which requires a good pair of rubber boots here in Finland, because bogs are, well, wet.

Here's some pictures from the day.

Sam Vaneeckhout (A PhD student here at Oulu University) working away at trench T308 in the pits will everyone else takes a break.

Sarah Vannice (A McGill Undergraduate Student) is caught by surprise conducting some unorthodox excavation technique.

Check out this wicked stratigraphy and an unusual square feature from trench T308.

The survey team trekking through the Finnish bog.

Getting in line to survey a transect.

Amy Hansen and Greg Korosec (both University of Buffalo Graduate students) observing, and standing in and outside (respectively), a possible dwelling depression.

Done and done, talk to you all tomorrow, same bat time, same bat blog.

The Field School

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