23 July, 1998
07/23/98 The Big Find
*** Digging down down Š. - the big find - a crowd at the lab - saying some goodbyes ***
Today we continued the arduous task of digging down into the midden of the house that we have been excavating. Midden means collection, but it might as well mean dump. We dig down in 50cm x 50cm x 10cm units. We survey each of the human bones or artifacts that have been made by human hands. We bag the animal bones and survey the position of the bottom of the hole. So it goes, but in the midden the artifacts are few while the animal bones abound. By noon I had uncovered a series of vertical posts and horizontal flagstones that looked promising. First we surveyed the position of all of the flagstones and timbers and then I removed one fallen timber and the stones. When I had cleared the area, I started another 50cm x 50cm area. I scraped a couple of times with my trowel and there they were, a perfectly preserved pair of ornate ivory snow goggles. Snow blindness has always been a problem up here in the winter, and if you lived here over 500 years ago, you made eye covers out of ivory with narrow slits cut in them. Everybody was really enthusiastic and made a point of making me feel pretty good. The general consensus was that it was one of this season's top three finds. Immediately afterward I found a perfect ivory harpoon head, a nine-inch antler lance head and a broken barbed antler spearhead. What a day!
After dinner we had a larger than average crowd at the lab. News of the day's find had spread and people wanted to see the goggles. Many people said goodbye to Aaron and me, and wished us luck.
At 9:00 P.M. we were summoned to the mayor's house where in an emotional goodbye he presented each of us with an inscribed copy of last year's City of Deering Archeology Report and a walrus tooth. He told us that whenever we held the walrus tooth it would bring us back to Deering.
What a day. Tim's find was amazing to say the least. The foreman, Ryan Peterson, who has done a number of digs before all over the Arctic, says he's never seen ivory snow goggles excavated before. They were in perfect condition. The Craftsmanship involved was unbelievable, especially considering that they were carved using a sharp piece of stone (chert). Mayor Barr's flattering goodbye was very impressive. The best part
of this whole experience has been the interaction with the people. Everybody has been more than gracious, and the hospitality is greatly appreciated. Everyone from the archeologists to the townspeople and even the construction crew have made our stay in Deering very special, and every time I touch that walrus tooth, Deering will fill my mind.
At ten thirty Alvin Iyatungnuk, Bonita Barr and their daughter Andrea took me out fishing for the last time. With the aid of detailed instructions from Alvin and Bonita I was able to catch three of the biggest fish I've ever seen, even though Alvin insisted that fish will be here in August that are easily twice the size. Needless to say, I was exstattic to catch them.
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