Week 19 Update

Archaeology Update for the Week of February 6

Special Lab Edition!(Special Guest Blogger: Lab Director, Dr. Katherine Seikel)

Excavation has been moving right along in Blocks A and D this week, qhilw Mindy’s new cover over Block C allowed work to continue there. (They call it “the Thunderdome” – but we don’t think it’s for post-apocalyptic, steel-cage fights to the death overseen by Tina Turner). Excavators keep uncovering burned rock features in Block A, and we now have over 60 recorded features at the site! Now that Block C is up and running again, another burned rock feature has been uncovered there and numerous artifacts have made their way to the field lab. In contrast, as Block D gets deeper, fewer artifacts are present in each level, but that could change if another dense occupation layer is encountered. Stay tuned for more detailed and exciting updates from the excavations!

So…. why a lab edition of the blog? Recently we have been asked a lot of questions about the types and quantities of artifacts and cultural materials recovered from the Headwaters site during excavations. We have also been getting questions about the analysis of site materials and their eventual curation display (mostly about the analysis and exhibition, of course). To address some of these questions, let’s talk about what has been going on in the field lab.

The field lab operates three days a week to keep up with the processing and initial inventory of all material from the excavations. Under the guidance of Mark Simon, the project’s lab assistant, and myself, lab technicians and a group of wonderful volunteers have assisted in the processing and inventory of over 32,000 artifacts, faunal remains, and samples since the project started in October!

32,000 artifacts! That’s at least two of these buckets worth! Ok. It’s a lot more.

So what does over 32,000 items look like in terms of the types of materials we have?

28,043 pieces of lithic debris (cores and debris from tool production)

213 lithic tools (mostly bifaces and projectile points)

28 ground-stone artifacts (including grinding slabs and hand stones)

7 prehistoric ceramic sherds

2,391 fragments of animal bone

970 mussel shell fragments

261 fragments of burned clay and ochre

173 samples (most of which are C14 samples or soil samples)

42 historic artifacts (mostly from Block A)

As the project continues the numbers of artifacts, faunal remains, and samples will grow. Based on what has been recovered thus far, analysis will take a while and keep our lab and specialists busy. Eventually, we will be able to say a lot about how people were using the site, what they were eating, and how activities at the site changed over time. While interpretation of the site is being written up, the lab will move on to preparing all the collected material for curation and, someday, exhibit.

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