27 June, 2001
Today we toured Wales. We climbed the hill viewing the village and we also looked at the site we will be working on, starting tomorrow. Last season the site was filled in at the end of the season. It was then covered with a tarp to leave the exact place in which to start excavations again. We were given our tools: a trowel, ruler, journal, graph paper, level and log book. We will be doing standard archaeology recordings. Ever sample has to be labeled, measured and recorded. All data will later be analyzed back at the lab, I think in Anchorage. Another very important thing will be Munselling the work. I learned Munsell was a person who developed this technique. It is the measuring the soil as we dig. The deeper we go there is different soils, such as silt, sand, clay, sod, etc.), this is then studied. Roger informed us at some point in the excavations there would be DNA sampling of certain materials and bone. He wants to take a sample of whalebone to be DNA tested to determine if there was contamination in prehistoric times and compare it to today's contamination of whales. It may or may not be, but it will be very exciting to do this. It has never been done before. He also will be taking some soil and wood samples.
Team Members: We have a team of seven, soon to be six. Margie will be leaving us next week to travel to Scandinavia and then on to an archaeological dig in Russia.
I am learning that there are many fields of study in Anthropology. Everyone on this team has or will be working on a variety of subjects in their field. Throughout this experience, I hope to share with you the dissertations and thesis's of my team.
John Dennis is from Thibodaux, Louisiana and is working towards his Masters Degree in Anthropology at the University of Arkansas. He is a physical anthropologist. His thesis topic is Molar Wear of Costa Rican Monkeys. He is collecting data and looking at the diet of the monkeys to see just how the teeth do wear down. He is also studying the to try and determine the wear pattern according to age, diet and the leaves they eat. There is dental wear over time: Is there a pattern? What is the pattern to it? How do they change from infant to adulthood? The monkeys from Costa Rica are foliviorous (leaf eaters).
His raw data (information collected) are the impressions of the teeth over time. They make a dental plate impression to study the monkey. John stated that when testing is done in this manner, the animal is tranquilized and never harmed in any way. This study will determine the wear of the teeth on the monkeys. This study is being done with a GIS (Geographical Information System) application. John explained this is like a mountain range. The mountains wear down over time. It is the same concept with his topic on the monkeys of Costa Rica. He is creating what is called the GIS, setting up all of the data and analyzing the data. John has studied with Dr. Peter Ungar, from the University of Arkansas. He is a member of Dr. Harritt's team this summer receiving Arctic archaeology experience.
Now on to the weather, it is really nice out today. I was told if it is very clear across the Bering Sea, we will be able to see Siberia. There are Little Diomede and Big Diomede and then the coast of Siberia. I have also been told we will be having more cold, windy, rainy, very cold days here, in other words a typical Bering Sea Day. I think today is not typical.
See ya, Ethan
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