Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Week 2: Floral genocide, surface finds, and… Pepsi can culture?

Okay, Week 2 (chronological order be damned) brings forth the introduction of Group 2 (who, unable to accept the inferior position of the number two, will for the remainder of this entry, at the very least, be referred to as Group A or Alpha, which is considerably cooler than being number two). This second group, following in Week 1’s footsteps, piled into two vehicles (Alpha Group, due to our coolness, were able to make the trip down in style in a wonderful, shiny, clean smelling rented vehicle. Andre’s vehicle also made the trip down) and headed down to Parc Safari. However, the trip down started with relatively poor planning, putting two of our tallest excavators (Julien and Graham) in the cramped quarters of the back seat of Andre’s car. So after an hour-long drive in comfort (well for some of us) we shuffled back out of the car and appreciated Group 1’s work.
After referencing the magnetometer map it was decided to start up some new test pits instead of continuing on the test pits started during the first week. The consultation of the map led some to believe that a certain consistency in the magnetometer map indicated the presence of a long abandoned road which had run perpendicular to the road currently present on the site. The working theory was that fauna was buried along this road, on either side, with the oldest being buried the furthest away from the current road. Unfortunately, as the previous week’s entry has pointed out, the vegetation in the area is rather tenacious, which forced us to remove said vegetation from our projected work area. This led to what we can only assume latter generations will call floral genocide as we cleared the voracious flora with impunity and ferocity.
The clearing of bush, from the current road moving east, itself led to some interesting finds. As vegetation was removed it became clear that the ground had very different elevations moving from east to west. As explained in the previous post elevation may be an indicator of burial as areas of high elevation may indicate newer burials (due to the fact that any dirt removed to make a grave will more than fill a grave where there is now the added volume of an animal carcass) and areas of lower elevation may indicate older burials (in which the carcasses have decomposed and the ground has collapsed in order to fill the now empty cavity left behind). These dramatic shifts in elevation led Neha to continue her wonderful profile lines from the week before which cumulated into these two profiles:

Along with the dramatically varied elevation, there was also a wealth of surface finds near the western boundary of the site. Within an area of depression several finds were made on the surface while clearing brush. A bit further west, in an area of higher elevation, some more surface finds were made, including an antler. The finds within the lower elevation were more numerous and were deemed more promising to lead to the discovery of a full animal, thus it was in this area that the first test pit of the day was started. A one meter by one meter test pit was started (which would ultimately be named Grave 1) in which several finds were collected as we excavated further. Lisa, Amelia, Kim, and Sian excavated this pit and found about five vertebrae, a series of ribs, a long bone, and a number of vertebral epiphyses and tarsals. Also found were a metal pin and a metal nail. The vertebral epiphyses are an indicator that the find is most likely a juvenile, since the presence of these epiphyses suggests that the bones had not yet fused and therefore did not belong to an adult. Furthermore the finds in Grave 1 suggest that the animal found was an ungulate, possibly a gazelle. Many of the vertabraes were found still articulated within a garbage bag, which suggests that it is possible that a full juvenile ungulate is located in Grave 1, a hypothesis which will need to be tested in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, a couple of us, after extending the profile line, began our own test pit. Graham, Allie, Julien (after some more brush clearing), and I began to dig directly east of Grave 1 in an area of higher elevation. This area of elevation seemed fairly consistent, forming some kind of plateau between two areas of lower elevation. Within this area a one meter by one meter test pit was started. This pit produced some fairly different finds than those found in Grave 1. No faunal remains were found, but the finds that were made were much more interesting than those found in Grave 1. (This is a lie) What was found was domestic refuse (re. trash). Excavated from the test pit were two Pepsi products, a bottle and a can, which were subsequently dated to the mid-nineties. (The discovery of these Pepsi products initially led to the assumption that this was evidence of a long dead culture of Pepsi products that controlled the North American continent for an extended period of time. Unfortunately this theory was later abandoned after the infusion of logic and the realization that Pepsi products are neither alive nor sentient.) Another find in this test pit was a large rusted metal bracket, whose use is still unknown. The most likely source behind these finds of this domestic refuse is that they were deposited during the burial of an animal, possibly indicating an adjacent burial, a hypothesis which will hopefully be tested in the weeks to come.
So next week’s focus will probably be on Grave 1 since it continues to be our most promising test pit, though the domestic refuse test pit may still provide us with vital information about the site.
However I am still not totally convinced that our initial assumption about the Pepsi products was incorrect, so keep an eye on your Pepsi, if it gives you any looks or seems intent on overthrowing our system of governance contact your local Pepsi provider, or drink Coke.

Pictures to come...

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