14 July, 1998

07/14/98 A Rainy Day Excavation

*** A diesel fuel barge arrived today while we were having breakfast. The Construction Company installing the sewer line had virtually shut down because of low fuel. This had at least given us the impression of having more time. We have sort of a tenuous arrangement that allows us to hold up construction in archeologically sensitive areas as long as we work hard to free up less sensitive areas as soon as we can. To extend our area of study and speed things along we called in the village road grader to remove some overburden. It's not very scientific but it makes things faster, and we are under a little pressure.

We have hired some village residents to help us excavate. Alvin Iyatunguk, Robert Iyatunguk, Susie Barr, Bonita Barr and Stephanie Barr have all had the short course to become archeological technicians. The village team is great. They have a natural affinity for their surroundings and therefore are quick to see connections in their diggings. They are interested and dig tirelessly. We put in 10 hours of excavation a day, and yet they remain cheerful and their momentum never seems to wane. I am really impressed!

It rained off and on all day and it makes it hard to keep working and do a good job. Today I excavated a really fine antler hoe and an impressive jadeite adz. (I'm loving this) Alvin Iyatunguk found an ornate ivory pottery paddle and Stephanie Barr found a beautiful antler woman's headpiece. Rick Reanier, our leader, hired a cook so that we can eat better and save time. Calvin Moto grew up in Deering and has cooked everywhere. He brags that at one time he was the best Eskimo chef in a Lebanese restaurant in Akron Ohio. At any rate he cooks so well that I'm eating far too much. The excavation hours are long, but the mosquitoes are tolerable. The views are great, the people are wonderful and the archeology is intoxicating.


Another full day of digging. Today's new exposure of ground opened up the path for many more artifacts. Artifacts are flowing into the lab at a tremendous rate, and Randy Peterson is responsible for preserving and organizing these objects. He has to do it in such a way so as to present them to the town. The team is obligated to make them "visitable" by the townspeople. This is all done very well, and there is a great deal of organization orchestrated in the town of Deering's teen center. What's more impressive is the way the members of the team go out of their way to talk with these people and explain what's on display. They all have lots of work to do, but still devote their time to the townspeople's curiosity. During all the time they spend with the visitors, they are never condescending or aloof like so many experts are. Deering now has quite the cultural museum.

The fuel barge unloads.

Rick Reanier carefully monitoring "grader" archaeology.

Contact the TEA in the field at .
If you cannot connect through your browser, copy the TEA's e-mail address in the "To:" line of your favorite e-mail package.