Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Its starting to feel more like Barrow, cold, windy fun!!

Being in the field is a whole lot better than hanging around the lab for the past week or so--Yesterday was warm (40) and not much wind. We surveyed and set out lines. with so many of us (13) we got 2 and 1/2 lines done in only a couple of hours. That's about 125 test pits. During the survey we found 3 features at the edge of the bluff that we started excavating today. One we haven't started, one was a historical midden with scattered remains, and the one I worked on all day today, is a folded fur hide or a series of hides that have been stacked. We took samples today and will attempt to unravel or unstack it tomorrow to make sure there is not anything in it. Small childen have been found in hide piles like this. Usually adults were laid on caribou fur and children on polar bear fur, so we'll see tomorrow. I'll post a picture of the small toy arrow point we found in close proximity to the hide pile.
We saw one bear yesterday on the bone pile and two others out on the ice today about 300 yards away, one smaller one that was limping and the othewr was this beautiful large golden bear about the color of French's mustard. Way too far to get pictures. I'll post some pictures of the bone pile, which is the remains of last falls bowhead hunt which took 18 individuals. They decided this year not to bury the bones since the bears just dug them up last year anyway. Laura is going down to Anchorage for her last prenatal appointment, so I'll be doing most of what she does for the next few days, lots and lots of micromanaging.
I almost forget to tell the most fun part of the day, that feature we are digging is at the edge of the bluff and the bears had dragged a few large pieces of whale over to it and as the whale aged the oils leached out and soaked into the gravel. since it does not evaporate it remains really viscous and when you move a trowel or shovel of gravel it doesn't stay put it slumps and looks like little gravel worms trying to escape. Not Nice! the other fun thing is the smell, not horribly unpleasent but strong and it latchs onto your clothes and won't ket go--all good fun--


Tom Skala said...

Good stuff, Dave. Yes, I have started to read your blog!!! What is a "midden?" Did you find anything in the folded fur hides? The weather doesn't sound so bad....yet!! The whale oil goop sounds delightful. Can you bottle some and bring it home? Stay safe.

Dave Grant said...

Tom--Thanks for reading it--A midden is archaeology speak for garbage heap--no nothing in the hides except a cookie cutter cut out in the center of about 6 hides but the cut out was left in--so eho knows!!