16 July, 1998
7/16/98 Excavating a mysterious pit
*** Digging test pits by 8 A.M. - Sewer line construction beginning - doing a laundry at lunch - excavating a mysterious pit ***
In the morning we finished excavating our 30+ test pits. I completed two, including the last one to be done. The last one was a parcticularly tough one to do. The sediments were very compact and there was lots of gravel. Both pits turned out to be just over a cubic meter, that means that over a ton of gravel was shoveled out of each one. At 10:30 I ran over to the post office to mail our journal pages to Renee Crain at ARCUS. Internet access at Deering is at best tenuous so we mail a disk every few days to Renee who cheerfully and efficiently loads them on the web.
The construction crew has started digging looking for the places where they left off last year. We will continue to have pressure on us to perform.
After lunch I went back to check my laundry. $3 for a load of wash and 2 dries at $2 each and it still wasn't dry. I dragged it back to the lab where I hung it all around.
For the 6 hours after lunch Aaron and I excavated a mysterious pit. The head of our project Rick Reanier noticed in one of the test pits a layer of ancient sod that was dipping towards the north. To Rick's trained eyes it represented the possible edge of a human made depression. Sod had grown over the depression and eventually it had been filled with wave borne sand and gravel. Aaron and I carefully removed tons of overburden with shovels. When we were close to the sensitive sod layer we scraped by hand with trowels. By the end of the day we had uncovered an irregular pit 15 feet in diameter and about 3 feet deep in the center. On the surface of the sod we found 1 human bone and a projectile point. The archeologists think that these artifacts are not representative of 1000 year old Ipiutak but maybe slightly more modern Thule age. Rick Reanier is not sure why this pit was dug, but tomorrow we will look at it more closely. For dinner our cook Calvin Moto cooked beef gravy over rice with corn, peas, fresh baked rolls and fruit salad. Calvin and Rick regaled us with stories of their days working on the Alaska oil spill, Rick as an archeologist and Calvin as a cook.
Today was one of the first completely clear days they've had all week. It's hard to believe we've been here for a week already. Time really flies. We've been doing so much digging with shovels lately. Rick Reanier says that's what makes archeology so interesting. There's something of everything. You could be scratching away at the bottom of a house, working meticulously in a lab, or digging furiously with a shovel and backhoe. In the field and full of dirt, or in the lab and extremely clean. All in all we're getting quite the intro into this field.
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