|Bone fishhook barb|
Where the last blog post about the Kiliuda Bay archaeological dig was all about the big picture of what was going on at the site - this one is about the details. What cool things did we find, and what do they tell us about what was going on at the site?
In general my favorite part of an excavation is excavating old houses and other types of features, and figuring out the stratigraphy. That's where we learn the most. But I'll admit that during the often boring grind of an excavation that it is the artifacts that provide the excitement. Uncovering a house is cool, but finding a chipped stone point gets the blood pumping!
The artifacts tell us what people were doing at the site. They also give an idea of what particular Alutiiq era we are digging in. For instance, large net sinkers and ulus in the black smoke pit feature screamed 'Early Kachemak' (3800 years ago) whereas the ulu with the sloppy drill hole indicated 'Early Koniag' (500 years ago). These are the types and style of artifacts one expects to find in those particular eras.
Artifacts also help me interpret features. The thumbnail scrapers used to scrape hides found in the oldest feature at the site indicate that there was a lot of hide processing going on there. Maybe the inhabitants were smoking the hides as part of the tanning process?
We were surprised by the amount of porpoise bones we found in the late prehistoric midden. And it got me excited when we then found the distinctive toggling harpoon spur shown below. Ethnographic accounts written by early Russian visitors indicate that this particular style of harpoon was used to hunt porpoises. The artifact reinforced that they were hunting a lot of porpoises from the site! Patrick
|Spur of a toggling harpoon ethnographically used to hunt seals and porpoises|
|Hunting lance used seals and other large marine mammals|
|Crab part? - if so, it is the first one I have ever seen from a Kodiak shell midden|
|Early Koniag era ground slate ulu for splitting fish|
|Small little thumbnail scraper used for cleaning animal skins - we found a number of them in the large feature at the bottom of the site.|