August 6, 2011 Working the Night Shift
As I write this journal, the rest of the crew is up at the site working. It's almost 10pm, but they headed up after dinner. Why this frenzy of activity? Well, time is running out on our expedition. Tomorrow is the last day for fieldwork, and there's a lot to get done.
The day started off with the usual downpour. In fact, it started raining last night around 9:30 and rained steadily until almost 2 pm. When the rain clouds lifted, there was even a dusting of snow on the Delong Mountains to the east of us. Today's rain was accompanied by cold, strong winds, with a windchill in the 30s, according to my little Kestrel weather station. A perfect day for archaeology if you're wearing the right outfit and attitude!
Today's goal was to get the rest of the sections excavated down to bedrock. While Steve, Jeff, Natasha, and Joe worked in their sections, Tim, Ian, and I screened the dirt that they removed. We had a good assembly line going in the rain from excavation to screen, as we searched the bucketfuls of dirt for chert flakes and bits of bone. As we get closer to the bedrock there are fewer artifacts, but we still need to screen each bucket carefully, just in case.
Later in the afternoon the rain stopped and things dried out a bit. Perfect timing for the next phase of this project--filling in the hole! Remember all that dirt we took out of the hole 10 days ago? Well, it all has to go back in, plus all that dirt we moved this year. I spent my afternoon alternating between screening dirt and moving rocks and dirt back into the part of the site that has been completely excavated. We filled one end with stone that has been removed this week. This section is completely excavated and it appears to lie at the perimeter of this site. The site is in a small depression and this part is at the outside edge. We lined another section with a tarp and began the backfilling, one bucket at a time. It's pretty amazing to see how those buckets add up!
Tomorrow we'll spend the day at the site completing the soil profiles, finishing excavation in the last sections, and backfilling. We also need to pack up all the equipment and get the samples ready for transport. The rainflies will come down--pretty easy, since there's only one left standing. Who knows--a fluted point might still show up at the bottom of the last section that will be completed tomorrow.