perjantai 29. toukokuuta 2009

Day 19 May 28- Thats All Folks

Much to the dismay of the ’09 field crew, the final day of excavations had at last arrived. Relentless winds harassed the group from departure to arrival and attendance was carefully monitored in between should anyone have decided to have themselves blown into the bog. Our proficiency over the course of the final week would be rewarded with a much more relaxed pace today. Only a couple of tasks remained; the completion of soil sampling at the Thing, and surface exposure at the 2nd upper dwelling depression at Hiidenkangas.

Surface exposure of the second upper dwelling at Hiddenkangas

Sam’s timely arrival with cookie supplies put an end to Colin’s tyranny at Hiidenkangas. In the absence of Colin’s cookie embargo and despite high winds and the repeated pummel of airborne buckets, the surface exposure of the second upper dwelling depression was completed by lunch and the finds, quartz debitage, mapped by Colin and Sam. After a lunch blasted by wind, Sarah, Elizabeth, Hunter, Lisa and Brendan returned the cleared soil to the exposed site and unrolled the sod mats in an almost natural fashion.

With yesterday’s trench backfilling, work at the Thing was almost exclusively soil sampling. In the morning, soil cores were extracted from along the platform by Loretta, Mike, Katie and Eva and mapped by Dustin and Greg. After lunch, Greg and Dustin ventured off to map out a row-house discovered in the first week of fieldwork.

By the time either site’s crew called it quits, it was just past lunch and the teams bid an early farewell to the Finnish bush and the prehistoric sites they’d come to call home. Although laboratory work will continue on into Friday, archaeological fieldwork for the 2009 season has ended.

Our 3 weeks of survey, testing, and excavation along the prehistoric coastlines of 4500-5500 years BP have no doubt provided a substantial contribution to the ongoing research exploring long-term human adaptive responses to change in boreal environments. In collaboration with further research in northern Canada and proposed expeditions in Kamchatka, the 2009 research results from Finland will expand the scope of an emerging model examining human responses to climate change from prehistory to the present day. From the diminutive fragments of quartz debitage to the intricacies of the dwelling depressions serenely fixed upon the ancient landscape, our findings comprise a growing repository of knowledge fostering the development of new perspectives on a people and a land extending far into prehistory.

keskiviikko 27. toukokuuta 2009

Day 18 May 27th- A Farewell Gift

A light rain greeted the crew on the morning of the 18th day, but it was no time for dampened spirits. With but two days remaining prior to Friday’s conclusion, the day’s pace would be rigorous and demanding.

Surface exposure at Hiidenkangas

The victims of Colin’s ongoing dictatorship over at Hiidenkangas, Lisa, Elizabeth, Beth, Sarah, Hunter and Brendan, confronted the arduous task of rolling sod for further surface exposure of the upper dwelling depression after the usual scavenger hunt for quartz flakes. The morning’s ferreting about for quartz flakes did in fact turn up more quartz flakes in numerous localized scatters along the lower plateau of the contour. Sam and Colin trailed behind (whips lashing) and mapped the flakes using the GPS.

Despite ongoing negotiations and policy revisions at Hiidenkangas in the post-Andre term, a continued lapse in cookie provisioning has again disrupted worker-leader relations. Although the reinstatement of cookie break has been welcomed, it remains clear that more than one pack of cookies will be required to maintain crew morale during these stressful final days.

After lunch saw a shift in focus from sod-rolling to the down and dirty surface exposure of a second, slightly smaller, depression on the upper level. To no surprise, quartz flakes turned up en masse. Meanwhile, a short distance away, Brendan’s aimless wanderings on a commissioned search for a single stone in a field of stones turned up a very different kind of stone. Brendan’s discovery of the 2nd ground-stone adze was found no more than 50m from Colin’s first and proved to be a fine specimen that will nicely match Colin’s.

Brendan's ground-stone adze

The second team comprised of Loretta, Keegan, and Mike spurred on by Katie and Eva managed to nearly complete extracting soil samples from the 3x3 metre grid. Katie single handedly dealt the final blow to trench T409 by recording it’s stratigraphic profile with breathtaking fidelity.

Having not got the memo that the field-school is almost over, our over-achiever’s Greg and Dustin, went on to locate yet another prehistoric site along the 50m contour during a survey. Identified by quartz flake scatters, a scraper and a core, in association with possible depressions, the site was recorded with the GPS and tucked away for further examination next season.

tiistai 26. toukokuuta 2009

Day 17 May 26th- The End is at Hand

Beneath the blessings of the returned sun, the budding archaeologists rallied for day 17 of the field-school. With Thursday quickly approaching, the tentative grand finale of the 2009 expedition, a sense of urgency lingered in the air. For example, despite steady progress, the hordes of soil samples returning to the lab each evening have only provided approximately 2/3 of the required samples and seemingly done little to appease Eva’s appetite for more. On the other hand, the successful completion of the surface exposure and salvage operations at the lower dwelling depression at Hiidenkangas have pacified Colin’s slave-driving and rumor has it that his subjects received a well-deserved cookie break this afternoon.

Soil sampling, soil sampling, trench excavating and soil sampling comprised the majority of the tasks delegated by Eva to Sarah, Elizabeth and Brendan toiling about at the Thing. Sarah and Brendan managed to bring down T409 to the alluvial deposits laid down by wave action and Elizabeth finished it off with another marvelous rendition of its gorgeous stratigraphy.

Trench T409

A stone’s throw away, Katie sketched a stratigraphic profile of the sand-pit that contained the organic contents of a pit uncovered earlier this field-season. The complexity of the stratigraphy, compounded by a bulldozer cut, has been described by Katie as “crazy.” We find ourselves at the field-school in complete agreement with this statement. Crazy indeed.

Meanwhile, a stone’s throw away in the other direction would have hit Eva as she worked to collect soil samples from the 3x3 grid. Later in the afternoon she would be given a hand by both Sarah and Brendan who, now freed from excavating T409, discovered an ominous pink layer in a core sample. Although Brendan’s remorseful suggestion that they had indeed just “sampled” a small forest creature was immediately rejected, a more plausible and likely rational explanation has yet to be provided.

Having barely avoided mutiny the previous day, Colin and Sam re-evaluated their approach to worker motivation and reinstated the cookie-break with immediate results. The team composed of Andrius, Lisa, Loretta, and Hunter back-filled the lower dwelling depression by unrolling the sod mats over the exposed surface to prevent erosion and mask the work from curious eyes. The crew was then marched up to the upper depression where a number of finds including more quartz debitage and several worked tools were uncovered during the continued surface exposure.

Zooming about on their speeder-bikes on the farthest moon of Endor, Greg and Dustin summoned the satellites to map the sites found along the 55 contour last year. The duo also completed soil testing at two additional possible sites located earlier this season along the 60. Dustin and Greg’s limited experience at maneuvering the speeder-bikes, provided by an Empire-sanctioned grant, proved inefficient and the two were force to resort to the traditional van. No sooner had the pair reluctantly handed the bikes over to a band of Jawas, when the van got a flat. Thank to Greg’s training in the grueling pits of NASCAR, the two were off again in 11.67 seconds.

Greg on survey

maanantai 25. toukokuuta 2009

Day 16 May 25

Day 16 May 25

With the weather briefly making a return to more traditional Finnish weather, cool and cloudy, the battered but zealous 2009 contingent of students embarked on the final week of the NOCUSO archaeological field-school.
The ongoing surface survey and artifact recovery operation at Hiidenkangas was carried out by Sarah, Lisa, Brendan and fearless leaders; Colin and Sam. Despite the abrupt disappearance of the Chief (Andre), presumably involving a cloud of mysterious purple smoke and a maniacal laugh, Colin managed to keep the three scrounging about for all things white and shiny. The tiny fragments of quartz, flaked debitage from the production or modification of stone tools, were flagged and their distribution recorded with the aid of the GPS.
Prior to lunch, the morning's scavenging switched to the ongoing surface exposure of the lower dwelling depression, which quickly came to completion beneath the crack of Colin's whip.
In the absence of a stable supply of cookies, mutiny among the team was avoided only with the promise of new discoveries as the ranks marched back up the slope to further expose the upper site. The ensuing sod removal brought the crew ever nearer to the brink of upheaval, but were quelled by Colin's menacing glare. Nevertheless, the grumbling and complaining soon gave way with the appearance of a defined hearth from which two charcoal samples were extracted.

Scurrying about the Finnish forest floor on survey were Beth, Keegan, and Loretta, lead by their nimble leaders; Dustin and Greg. During the band's merry wanderings graced by the presence of a cuckoo bird, several carins were dicovered along the raised platform of the 60m contour.

Dug in amid the trenches of the Thing, the remainder of the team shared a number of tasks including soil sampling, stratigraphy drawing and geological excavations.
In an effort to reconstruct the stratigraphy of the Thing, Katie was guided in the ways of soil sampling within the 3m x 3m grid by master Eva. Further sampling and analysis of the obtained samples from around the Thing will eventually determine the extent of it's coverage and determine if the structure was cut into the natural topography or artificially raised.
Additionally, a short distance away, a soil sample taken from an historical depression revealed midden deposits containing charcoal and fibers. Neato!
Meanwhile, Elizabeth donned her artist's barret and drew the stratigraphy of T209 before assisting Jenn and Hunter on T409. Proving to be an expert in all fields, Elizabeth was subsequently drafted by the soil sampling crew and proceeded to discover a double-floor.

sunnuntai 24. toukokuuta 2009

Day 15 Friday May 22


Today at The Thing started by Katie and Loretta lowing the geologic unit T309, Jen drew the stratigraphy of T209's walls, and Brendan and Keegan took a great many soil samples.

In the morning there was more field walking at Hiidankangas. We found lots more quartz flakes, debitage, and fire cracked rock (fcr).

Sam made the interesting observation that quartz flakes found unassociated with fcr and other debitage tend to be used while other clusters with debitage and fcr tend to be unused and associated with manufacture. This is something we would never have discovered if we hadn't been doing a full survey of this area!

We gathered at the museum for lunch and coffee It's lucky for us that Andre has a sixth sense, seeing that as soon as we stepped inside the museum Ukko (the Finnish mythological god of the sky who specializes in storms and lightning) showed up and massive rain showers poured down around us! Fortunately as we were about to head back to work, the skies cleared and we were off.

After lunch the whole crew came to lend assistance at The Thing. The large organic mass at the SPW was finally removed to the lab, but not without much contemplation over exactly how it might be done.

Continuing on T309 were Loretta, Max, Hunter, with alternating supervision by Colin and Sam.

Andre took Jenn, Greg, Dustin, Eva, and Sarah to check out the platforms found in Survey the day before. What is interesting about these platforms is that they are not continuous along the shoreline and it's only one spot in this area. A series of round dunes lined up next to each other and when you look at them they are clearly little hills as opposed to long continuous dunes. It is not clear what made them, they are not in an estuary environment so we need to look into the processes that may have created them. There is a row of already known structural depressions nearby, as well as a cairn (possibly more). The houses themselves seem to have one high side and one low side, which is contiguous of other dwelling finds in the area.

Sam taught Katie how to use his mobile (and incredibly accurate) GPS unit. She then mapped in the roads intersecting The Thing, as the earlier DEM's (Digital Elevation Model's) did not signify these modern intrusions. Next was mapping the drainage trench through the Sand Pit Wall (SPW) which had grown exponentially since last year. Then through the dense trees Sam's GPS unit proved quite successful in keeping strong satellite signals to map the Neolithic depression and high ridge that encompasses the SPW.

As the day was coming to a close and Katie was taking the last few possible points with the GPS unit, Ukko, riding in on his dark black ominous cloud, spoke to us and told us to vacate his forest!!!!! Luckily, just as that happened Andre's van returned from Survey and we hightailed it out of there!

perjantai 22. toukokuuta 2009

Day 14 Thursday May 21 2009

Today is a holiday in Finland, so no work for us.... but luckily for us we're going on a field trip to see the largest Jatinkirkko (Giant's Church)!!! This is one of the places where Finnish Archaeology was born. It's a good chance for the complicated geologic processes we've been learning about to be explained in context. It's good for everyone to see how the natural moraine areas have been built up by human agency into massive megalithic structures. This is also the reason why we are going to see an area of clear land uplift, which is marked by helpful signs stating the year the area was at the shoreline.

These Jatinkirkko are only found in North Eastern Ostrobotnia. They began as moraines (rocks left by glaciers) and these natural features were modified by humans. These were always placed in prominent points in local topography.

The environment 5000 years ago was seaside. The soil and vegetation was different, there was also an open view of the sea side and was very visible from open water. The cultural system that created this was in a different set of environmental factors; what we see now has been influenced by shoreline displacement (land uplift). It is important to not as archaeologists that what we see now is not what these people saw when living here and creating these structures. In this area, as the Jatinkirkko's construction were dropping of in number, the cairns were continuing to be constructed. Also, regarding to their positioning in the landscape, the Jatinkirkko were always built on the current shore. As time goes on though, cairns were built continuously more and more inland.

The carins nearby were probably looted or excavated (not according to our standards). We can tell this because 'we' (today) would have put the stones back in place and they would also not have had giant gaping holes in their center. More likely they would have been dome-like in the center, as opposed to the concave dips. Though there are some flat ones found. There is a great variability in the morphology of cairns; the people who made them possibly did not see them as the same thing, but we lump them in to one category. A vast majority do not have remains in them. There are theories though that there were once graves within them and over time they disappeared for one reason or another, i.e., these types of remains do not preserve well in the acidic soil, excavation, or also looting.

It is hard to date cairns, but if multiple cairns nearby to each other can be chronologically cross-dated against each other it is possible to see if they were built around the same time period. This is done by analyzing bedrock weathering beneath. Unfortunately, the cairns must be destroyed in order to analyze the rocks underneath.

We were then off to Liminka, were we stopped at a 24 hour gas station and had our lunches. Many of us had the coffee and munkki (doughnut) special for 2 euros!! Not surprisingly the conversation did turn to the military (again).... only after a slight deviation to UFO sightings.... (Just remember, it's almost the end of the second week and we're tired.....)!

At Liminka we stopped at the bird sanctuary, but for a very different reason. We, as budding archaeologists, were there to see the land uplift! Inside the center was an interesting and very beautiful array of artistic photographs on display, mostly of the surrounding wildlife.

High up in the observatory, there was a 360 degree view of the area, and a telescope to make use of. From there you could see clearly a few small houses perched precariously out on the water.

In this area, the land uplifts regularly, but it's rate was much faster in prehistory than it is now. Averaged over a 7,000 year period it rises about 100 meters per century. The flow is much faster closer to the center of the ice mass (glacier).

We walked along the boardwalk and observed each of the signs showing the recorded date that that point was at the shoreline.

In the marsh that we were walking through, it was quite buggy, though there were a few beautiful yellow flowers poking up through the dry reedy grass.

In another observatory there was an explanation of those cabins on the water. They were built on heaps of stones at the estuaries of the Temmes and Liminka, which leavs them safe from times of high water. The cabins are primarily owned and used by fishermen and hunters, as well as winter skiers!

And apparently at some point Greg tried to hijack a boat....

torstai 21. toukokuuta 2009

Day 13 Wednesday May 20 2009

Today at Hiidankangas we continued to clear the Lower Clearing. Also started was a systematic survey of the hillside, 1/4th was completed and a large axe head was found!!!!

The plowing did some damage but it also created furrows (exposing the leeched layer) that were perpendicular to the slope (parallel to the hillside). This gave a good idea of the density of artifact distribution. One person per furrow slowly walked, and as finds were located Sam took points with his GPS unit. Surprisingly, we found that the discrete concentration of material was not necessarily correlated to depressions. There were also some fireplaces that were not close to any depressions. Sam will create a map of the activity areas and hopefully Eva will do chemical analysis to correlate these finds.

Marikka Wednesday is always a fantastic way to unwind in the middle of a well-worked week. The group bonded over the campfire in a row house. Most of the stories somehow ended with a correlation to the military. (We can thank Andre for that one!!!)

The Survey consisted of Dustin, Greg, Mike, Dr. Zubrow, and Keegan. They began shovel testing on the high point on the 60 meter contour. They found one flake in the depressions.

The Survey team found platforms as well as a possible quartz knife! There have never been any finds like these platforms before, except at The Thing. Animal spottings of the day were a turkey and a hare.

Eva did more soil coring near The Thing. She finished the flat area and started in an area near the nearby House foundation. This was in order to look for areas of high phosphorous where no visible surface depressions were evident. This is to look for prehistoric activity areas outside of all the nearby known areas.

Today at The Thing, Katie and Elizabeth mapped T109's stratigraphy. Then they continued to lower T209 until all areas were level and at the bottom sand. Towards the end of the day they mapped the top plan and began the wall stratigraphy.

Jenn and Sarah observed yesterday's finished pits and then continued on to two transects to look for the soil morphology and phosphorous near The Thing. This included lots and lots of coring!!

Dr. Zubrow suggested looking more closely at the walls to see if the stratigraphy reflected the mounded platform as much as the surface did. There is a possible plan to do systematic soil cores more closely together on the walls to achieve this. This will help see if the mounded areas are cut from the natural topography or if the elevated areas are as built up as the platform.

tiistai 19. toukokuuta 2009

Day 12 Tuesday May 19 2009

Today at Hiidankangas we had a smaller group so we focused on the Lower Clearing. We continued the previous days work of clearing loose dirt left by the tractor as well as the organic layer. Located was hearth with fire-cracked rock at the center as well as a bunch of quartz flakes. All the finds were mapped in using a transit total station, many of the students were trained using this device. Also used to map coordinates was the high accuracy GPS unit, Sam walked the entire Lower Clearing site to create a high resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM).

Today, Katie supervised work at The Thing. Working on the Geological trenches were Katie, Mike, Keegan, and Max. Katie and Mike finished lowering and mapping the depths of T109 on top plan. Once they finished T109, they joined Keegan and Max, who had been working diligently on lowering T209 to the bottom sand. Surprisingly though, the ditch that runs through the unit continues down at least 70 cm on the South wall. After cleanup, while waiting for Eva and Hunter to return, Katie took the team over to the Sand Pit Wall and gave them the rundown of the activities that had occurred at the end of last week, and describing some of the theories that go along with such finds.

Eva and Hunter were continuing to take soil samples along a ridge leading South of the 2006 and 2007 sites. After lunch she continued taking samples on the flat ridge on the other side of the road from The Thing. There has been no indication of human occupation, as in depressions. Though the flatness of the area would suggest otherwise, as it is a prime area for activity, hence the interest in continued sampling.

Not too long after lunch Eva was needed to take cores at the Hiidenkangas units. So both teams working in the area of The Thing headed over to lend assistance to the days activities at the Lower Clearing.

Later today, in lab, Eva showed Loretta how the phosphorous spot testing works, the intensity of the color indicates concentration of the chemicals.
Day 11 Monday May 18

Today we opened two units at Hiidenkangas. This is an area of clear archaeological significance which appears to have been greatly disturbed by logging. The extensive area was narrowed into two significant study areas: 1. the Upper Clearing, and 2. the Lower Clearing, which were 15 x 15 meter units.

The Upper Clearing contained 2 small depressions, the team rolled large amounts of turf between tractor furrows and located any diagnostic tools or remains, but left them in situ. Finds consisted of quartz flakes and debitage (which would be related to manufacture), as well as charcoal. These finds seemed to be dispersed with no discernible spatial pattern.

The Lower Clearing group worked on clearing the organic down to the leeched (A Horizon). They located surface finds ranging from quartz (thinning flakes and retouch, indicating curation) to fire cracked rock. The forest clearing did not compromise the depositional environment of the artifacts.

This unit consisted of a large depression that had a similar morphology to the Kierikki depressions in that they have steep walls with a dip at one end and a mound at the other (probable midden), and two hearths. Similar also is was that in the sea-shore facing area were large amounts of flakes which did not occur on the back end of the depression (indicating a spatial patterning).

This indicates that either the two depressions (areas) were occupied at different time periods or at similar time periods but for different purposes (specialization), the quartz finds indicate these two possibilities as well.

Eva and Loretta completed 57 soil samples at the Kotikangas site from the excavations in 2006 and 2007. While heading down the road from the Thing to the Kotigangas excavations, Loretta spotted an adder crossing the sandy dirt road. As it began to slither away, Loretta took a few quick snapshots before it was lost in the brush. This warm weather is bringing out all sorts of creatures. Moose tracks were found along the road after the last soil samplings of the day. Another small lizard scurried beneath the filed of lingonberries.

Today at The Thing, Katie and Lisa worked together like a well-oiled machine. The first task was to complete the top map of the large organic mass at the Sand Pit Wall: this included depth measurements for each layer it was comprised of. It was, yet again, slow going. But fortunately because of all the hard work and careful planning started last Friday by Brendan and Katie, it was finished by lunchtime.

The next task began after lunch, which was to help Jenn, who had been working painstakingly all day to lower the Geologic unit (T109) to the bottom (or beach) sand. Beth trained Keegan on soil sampling and they completed 16 soil cores. Once completed with that task, they began work on T209. They dug the unit down another few centimeters and it appears that there is another leeched layer below the enriched.

It all went smoothly, though periodic episodes of laughter made Jenn (the site supervisor) a tad nervous that the unexpected and intense heat of the day might have been frying everyone's brains!!!! Not a soul argued when it was time for cookie break!!!!She was worried about us drinking enough water.... but we weren't the ones with the orange slice smile....

Day 10 Sunday May 17 2009

Day 9 Saturday May 16 2009