11 July, 1998

7/11/98 The Excavation Continues

*** Up at 7 A.M. - at the excavation by 8A.M. - Aaron and I open a new pit - call home - caribou for dinner - a shower. ***

Aaron and I were assigned the opening of a new pit. Forman Kristen Wenzel measured out where we were to dig and off we went. It turned out that our site was a Midden, or zone of accumulation animal bones. There were bones of caribou, fox, squirrel, seal, and other animals. The bones were badly broken because the Eskimos would extract the marrow. There were so many bones that at the end of the day we had bushels. We also found other interesting artifacts, including caribou antler tools, a tooth pendant, a piece of an ivory bolo, pottery fragments and a projectile point. Aaron and I made a nuisance of ourselves constantly asking questions, but eventually we became pretty good at what we were doing. It was hard work digging in the sun for 10 hours, but it was really rewarding.

I called home and talked to my wife Roz and my daughters Sarah 10, Rebecca 7 and Abigail 5. The phone calls here are transmitted by satellite so there is a few second delay which is always confusing, but was crazy this time with three little girls. For dinner our new cook and village resident Calvin Moto cooked Caribou stew with fresh rolls and peach cobbler. After dinner I walked the quarter mile to the Village Safe Water office for my first shower in Deering.


Archaeology is fun. It was great to slowly unearth bone after bone, always hoping it would be an artifact. Tim is a joy to work with, and we spent the day swapping stories as we dug. The weather for the whole time in Alaska has been unbelievable. The mosquitoes haven't been bad either.

I keep expecting to see NOVA or National Geographic to show up and interview. There is still something that is much different between this project and the clips of those seen on TV. Here the whole town is involved. It's not as if a find is stumbled on and the professionals swoop down to take care of it while those living there, and possibly sharing the heritage that's been interred, are pushed out of the way. It is amazing to see little kids playing around with twelve hundred-year-old caribou bones while three feet away professionals are at work unearthing world class artifacts. My amateur opinion is that this is the way I would think these digs should go.

Randy Peterson in the lab at Deering.

Aaron excavating.

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