I’m back in Quinhagak, Alaska, at the same archaeology site as last summer – a beautifully preserved pre-contact Yu’pik Eskimo village.
So what have I been doing here?
Well, for the first week, mostly carrying sod.
Not only carrying sod, of course. Sometimes we were cutting grass so we could break the sod. Sometimes we were busting the sod with a shovel. Sometimes we were removing the dirt that we’d backfilled to cover the area we couldn’t complete last year.
Yes. I actually did go to school for this, folks.
We wanted the sod and backfill removed as early as possible, so we hopefully won’t have as much of a problem with the permafrost as we did last year – everything we expose will start thawing. It’s logical. It’s just not entirely fun.
Less logical is the fact that we did it for 50 2×2 meter squares. Fifty. Besides meaning we had to move an alarming amount of sod (seriously, people, there was SO much sod,) 50 squares is kind of an insanely ambitious undertaking for the time and people we have.
We did had a totally reasonable, achievable excavation plan all set for this year. It lasted less then a day. It turns out there’s a really interesting – well, potentially interesting – spot just up from the squares we did last season, in a spot which is rapidly eroding. It definitely won’t be there next year, and we couldn’t just let the sea have it. . . so that area was opened too.
I should mention, at this point, that we are the most spoiled archaeologists in the world. I’ve worked in places where the things we found in the first few days – an end blade, a bead, some pottery – would have kept us happy for weeks. But here, we know the interesting things are all there waiting for us, just a few sod blocks away.