Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Week 8: Rain, a Missing Horn, the Garbage Bag Tent, and Femurs...

Okay, now I realize this is a bit late, but I’m pretty sure that since most of the people reading this are University students you all understand what end of semester papers can do to a person. Now that I’ve finally stopped waking up in cold-sweats due to nightmares involving anthropomorphized papers attacking me I can get on with the task of telling y’all what happened during our eight and final week of excavation.
We once again set out to Parc Safari intent on removing more bones from the pit and hopefully also expose more of the massive horned skull found the week before. However this particular week confronted us with something we had no contingency for, clouds. These clouds and what came out of them will play their role a bit later in this recounting. Upon arrival we once again had to start everyone’s favorite activity, bailing! This week’s bailing went relatively well since by then we were all experts at bailing (I’m convinced that we’d all do rather well on sinking ship). With the pit bailed we began by first removing bones which had been displaced by the water that flooded the pit. With this task completed we moved on to our primary task, which was to excavate the south-west corner of the pit which had not yet been excavated to the same height as the rest of the pit. The hope in excavating this corner was that be excavating this part of the pit we would be able to expose more of the skull found the week before (included the second horn) and to find the missing fourth leg of the equid. As Andre predicted we would not have to go very far before we hit some bones and he couldn’t have been more right. Within minutes we were excavating bones from the south-west corner. What was very interesting about these bones was that four of the bones found were fairly large femurs, found nearly piled on top of each other, which raises many question about how the bones ended up in this position.
Covering the skull itself had been a bag that once fully excavated we removed and then Amelia ignoring common sense decided that we needed to know what was in the bag. What was in the bag is not something I’m particularly proud to be writing about. For the most part it was filled with fairly small bones, assumed to be those of a bird, though two small mandibles were found indicating that it’s possible that other animals were also in the bag. Of course with these bones was a large amount of not fully decomposed material which as you can imagine is not exactly visually appealing (yes there will be a picture of it).
The skull itself also provided much intrigue. We estimated, based on the shape of the other horn, that it would not take us very long to uncover the horn since it shape would have it pointing up. But as we excavated we did not find the second horn. In fact once we were able to excavate the other side of the skull we made a shocking discovery, we didn’t find the horn because the second horn was broken off, which of course raised more questions that we are currently unable to answer. Unfortunately we were unable to excavate the skull enough to take it with us (plus we were pretty sure we would not be able to fit in the car). As this was out last week of excavation it seems that the mysteries of this skull will be left to next years excavators.
This week, other than being a good week of excavation, also featured some rather memorable moments. This marked the first week in which we encountered rain. The rain was relatively light but led to the creation of a masterpiece of ingenuity; the garbage bag tent. This tent, made entirely of garbage bags, effectively kept rain off of everyone’s stuff. However it was heavily criticized for the fact that things became incredibly difficult to access. It was also criticized for the fact that someone (Neha) left Andre’s cookie bag in the rain. I, however, stand firmly by the garbage bag tent as it kept my stuff dry. We also encountered a hunter and his son who were wandering into the forest intent on killing an animal (I assume). Andre proudly introduced them to our pit and showed them the skull which they were impressed with. As they left we noticed the rather large bag of oranges or apples the son was carrying and it became clear that they were not there to hunt but rather perfect their William Tell routine (someone made this joke while we were there, I don’t remember who but I felt wrong taking credit for it).
Before we left the group split into two, one group was sent of to make posts and close off the pit for the season. The other group went to the western boundary of the site, where they noticed that the ridge at the western end of the site shook when jumped on. So a trench was excavated in this ridge and the indications of a floor were found. The current hypothesis is that this is related to the house structure and that below this recently discovered floor there may be a cellar, a hypothesis which needs to be tested next season.
In the end it’s been quite a productive season of excavation and the one thing we’ve determined for sure is that we have a whole bunch of questions which need to be answered in relation to what was found during our excavations at Parc Safari in 2008.

The corner that needed to be excavated.


BAILIN' Train!

Julien and Alison excavate while four pairs of feet watch.

Excavating the South-West corner.

BoneKrusher fails to crush bone.

Yeah that's right we had to bail while we excavated... woo!

"I would help but these gloves are crazy expensive, see this tag here, says made in Italy, these are fancy."

The beautiful and perfect garbage bag tent.
(Is that the cookie bag I see there?)

The broken horn.

Femurs and other bones.

Julien has been in the pit for a while now.
He wants out.

The bird bag...


This one doesn't actually need me to write anything to be funny.

"To answer your question, something like this"

Poke..."Yeah its dead"...

Can you believe she volunteered to do this.

You haven't lived till you've seen Andre jump up and down and smile like a three year old.
Seriously, it was very endearing.

The trench on the ridge at the western edge of the site.

Closing the pit down.

The pit closed down for the winter.

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