Wednesday, October 13, 2010


 After digging a number  of inconclusive tests pits over the past two weeks, we were running out of time ( the deep cold of Quebec slowly approaching).  So, Chris and Colin had to intervene in order for the project to get back on track! To help us find something, they asked the biologists (who are conducting a study of the methane level contained in the soil at the site) if they had any insight . They told them that based on a number of sample spots scattered around the (West side of the road) two of them (#3 & #5)  showed interesting results. Both had a very high level of methane which increased as investigation went  deeper contrary to the other sample which sustained  a constant reading throughout the probe.  Biologist suggested that it could be an indication for the presence of bones. This meant that we now had a new potential location to explore !

So the goal of the day was to dig a trench!  & Hopefully find some BONES

We decided to dig a 2m x 50cm trench (PS2010 TR1) in order to  get a more extensive knowledge of the underground.The down side, of this method is that if by any chance we were to hit  something  we would probably not get a full individual due to the narrowness of the unit. In this case, we would dig a larger trench.

But before we could start digging we had to: clear the vegetation in order to set up the unit and have enough space to dig.

Once this was done we were finally ready to DIG !!!

 But we had to keep in mine the   Golden rules of excavation:

1) DO NOT dig, EXPOSE!                                        This means that we MUST NOT pull anything out of the unit, roots, rock, artifacts but rather expose them (scrape around) and the remove them. When exposing, scrape away from the walls and remove the dirt as we go. (Roskams, 2001, 228)

2) Keep the unit leveled at all times.

3) Keep the unit wall straight and vertical


Roskams argues for  the screening of the soil in order  to uncover small artifact(Roskams, 200, 222).But since we do not have a lot of time and we are especially looking for large bones we will not be using this method when excavating, instead  we will make a pile of  unscreened soil in order to back fil the unit at the end of the season.

After digging for about 20 minutes we made our first find: a feline claw. It was a good start, at least compare to the previous weeks we were finding  something!  A large concentration of toe bones were also uncovered the majority of them coming from the West end of the unit.      We started questioning the fact that we would find only toe bones in the loose surface. Why is that so ? (the only speculation that we were able to make was that the big Cat was buried on his back : ) )

Care was taken to keep the walls of our unit straight at all time but  it was more difficult than imagined since it had rain for the past week making the ground very soft and our walls unstable.

About 10 centimeter below the surface we started witnessing some type of silvery material at the centre of the unit, so we started scrapping around in order to uncovered it ( The # 1 rule when excavating is to expose and not to pull out anything until it is not totally uncovered) So since we are professionals this is what we did and finally after completely exposing it, we were  excited to discover that it   was a pull tab  Budweiser beer  can probably dating from the 1970s-or 1980s. In his article Glassow discusses the excavation of such “site’s depositional history”, the organic or inorganic remains left at the site by  past occupant, and the fact that they can enable us to date the site (Glassow,2005, 158-159).

After uncovering this artifact we realized that our unit was not leveled anymore. (The rule #3 in excavating, archeologist need to keep there unit leveled at all times) It was lower on the West side than not the East side. Even though this task seems simple it becomes very challenging when 6 persons are digging in such a small trench!  So we started to dig deeper in the East side of the unit and we made the find of the Day!

In the South-east corner of the trench we found part of an articulated leg of a large animal.  Even though, we got really excited and wanted to take the bones out in order to i.d. them we had to restrain ourselves and respect the Number 1 rule: Exposing.  While Karen and I were exposing the bones, the other girls  went to setup up the total station in order to map them. Once mapped, we were able to remove some of the bones but two large ones were stuck in the south and east wall of the unit. The last find of the day was a small scapula near the south wall  in the centre of the unit.

This was conclusive day since we finally found some bones! But we have to keep in mind that archeology is science and that while excavating the Golden Rules need to be respected at all times.

Work sited:

Glassow, M.A. 2005. Excavation. In: Maschner, H.D.G., Chippindale, C. (Eds.), Handbook of Archeological Methods. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, pp.133-75.

Roskams, S. 2001. Excavation. Cambridge: Cambrifge University Press.

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