tiistai 18. toukokuuta 2010

First Week of Excavations

After almost a week offline the blog begins! Of course throughout this time we’ve been digging furiously (but carefully) in the sweltering heat. Now I know what you must be thinking, Finland and heat seem like contradictory concepts but I assure you it’s been 28 degrees Celsius on more than one occasion (that’s 84 degrees Fahrenheit). Glancing back at the recommended packing list for Finland it included: long underwear, wool socks, a warm hat, a thermos for hot drinks, and a number of other warm articles of clothing all of which proved absolutely useless shortly after our arrival. Luckily even nature seems confused and despite the heat mosquitoes don’t seem to be biting yet. And I didn’t mention the sunlight, although it was expected it’s difficult to imagine before you see the sun set at 11 o’clock at night that it can do that. Needless to say sleep has been much more difficult as the sun floods everyone’s window at around three am every morning. Enough complaining about working conditions let me begin chronicling the past week in greater detail.


A day after my arrival Eva, Riku-Ville, and our European Archaeology group went out to begin the preliminary excavation. Our European group consists of Noelia a Spanish Archaeologist from Barcelona, Carlos coincidentally Noelia’s neighbor in Barcelona he’s studying to be a history teacher, Spyros an architecture student from Greece, Juan Pablo a Mexican graphic design student, and Axelle an English major from France. Our interesting national variation has made for some very interesting conversations about our different cultures.
The first day we began our square meter by meter holes and took off the top layer of the first few. Split into groups of two we each drove our nails and roped the boundaries. Cutting through the top soil like a root filled layer cake we dug down through the turf to reveal a layer of white nutrient leeched sand. As we got to this layer it was already time to go.
Friday night a large part of the American group arrived: Matt another Anthropology major, Chris a recently applied Anthropology major, Rob an English and Film major, and Lauren an Anthropology major who intends to do premed. That night and over the rest of the weekend we all settled in and got to know one another. A night or two of clumsily adjusting to the new sleep schedule and we were ready for excavations Monday morning. On Sunday our graduate students Greg and Dan arrived.
Digging further into the first layer we began to find our first artifacts, quartz flakes, charcoal, and massive amounts of fire cracked rocks. Quartz flakes show evidence of tool making, charcoal pinpoints where there was a wood fire, and fire cracked rocks are likely rocks left around a fire place which exploded due to the pressure from the heat of the flames. Searching through each layer for artifacts we dug down five centimeters each layer and documented whatever we could find. The first day didn’t get us very far, but the second day was a different matter entirely. In addition Dustin, another graduate student arrived Monday night.
Tuesday, everything changed when Excel and I found an almost intact charcoal pit in our excavation hole; it was circular and had another almost intact piece of charred wood on the other side of the hole. It wasn’t a major find but it reaffirmed the knowledge that people had lived in this place. That night, Laurel arrived after her graduation from SUNY Buffalo, now technically a graduate student she marked the last person to join our excavation crew.


Wednesday is sausage day. Now be fore you get any ideas, sausage day is when Eva goes to the market and buys an assortment of different Finnish sausages, we go to a nearby camp site and cook them over a fire. Last Wednesday the tastiest sausages were the cheese filled package Eva found. As they cooked over the fire you could feel the cheese bubble from the heat when they were nearly ready. After a tasty lunch we returned to work where Rob and Noelia found an odd rocky depression in their hole. Digging further down they sadly realized it was just misshapen hardpan.
Thursday marked our biggest discovery to date. When the team furthest from the center Spyros and Chris (in the same hole Axelle and I found the fire pit) dug down into their supposed hardpan layer they reached a wall-like rock formation. At the time we believed the formation extended eastward and set up to shovel test around it the next day. Thursday was the first day we began our shovel tests an d each group got a chance to do one. I enjoyed mine as I grew up doing very little shovel work but other groups seemed less enthusiastic after their turn had come.


Friday the shovel tests were all geared around finding more of the rock wall. Fire cracked rock could be found in almost every layer above where the wall began. This strange wall formation still could not be identified even with the help of Sam our resident Finnish expert. The day finished with a short walk toward another site. When we came across a river, Rob and Laurel decided it was time for a swim. Rob had the foresight to remove his clothing before undertaking the endeavor but Laurel decided to spend the rest of the day in soggy clothing.

As the first week drew to a close a weekend of trips to and outside of town began. Saturday Laurel, Lauren, Chris, and I accompanied the Graduate students to the center of town where we visited a bazaar area where we sampled Finnish cuisine in the form of tiny fried minnow sized fishes which were reminiscent of spiced french-fries when eaten as they were meant to be taken whole. Laurel especially had trouble eating the cute ones. I on the other hand devoured my box quickly and was happy to help her. Afterward we headed further into town, passing a fur shop, an assortment of Finnish food stores, and finally stockman, a gigantic store reminiscent of New York’s Macys (you can get literally everything there). Arriving back on campus we had dinner at Eva’s place which consisted of various types of smoked fish, hamburgers, and panqueques de manzana (a new recipe prepared by Laurel). The other group of we later discovered, had spent the day at the beach, which the weather had been perfect for.

The next day we took a long drive out to the Giant’s church, which I saw very little of. Eva had talked up the snake problem in the area so much that I found it difficult to look anywhere but straight down. The forest around the church was beautiful though, I managed to notice that between staring down at the ground.

Next we visited Liminka’s salt marsh, one of the best places in Finland to see the direct effects of Isostatic uplift. As we walked further through the marsh you could see where the shoreline had receded over the past 200 years. The marsh itself was a sight to behold; it smelled like a beach but was covered with tall wheat grass which ends abruptly at the shoreline. A bizarre but peculiarly attractive sight it made me imagine a landscape in which Kansas were by the ocean.
Yesterday, Monday we began our first set of surveys; led by Dustin, Greg, and Dan: Chris, Axelle, and I trekked through the Finnish wilderness in search of new Archaeological sites. Meanwhile the rest of the group continued to work on the original set of holes and dug deeper into their respective layers. An extremely hot day, we were all happy to end early and make our way back to the yliopisto (university in Finnish) for our first day of laboratory work.

1 kommentti:

Jennifer kirjoitti...

Great blog! Who is writing? Hope the weather cools down before the bugs come out. Post some picts of that "wall". Jen