Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mosquito galore

The trip started interestingly enough with random talks and comments on pop culture in the van such as Will Smith and his songs and the fact that Sting hates his song ‘We’ll be together’ because it was originally written for a Japanese beer commercial. Because it was group A’s second trip, we confidently assumed it would follow the last experience with a few differences such as digging new test pits. However, upon arriving, we learned what all archaeologists have; to assume that the land would not have changed in 2 weeks is to make an ass out of you. Two weeks, with a few rainy days here and there, was enough time for the road to become spread with grass, the earth to become more swamp like and for the birth of a host of mosquitoes, to whom we were the ideal banquet. I say this because not only were we there for at least three hours, but we all took turns holding the prism for the Total Station which as you all know, means that we cannot move until the Total Station is centered on the prism. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Before leaving McGill, MacLean presented Colin with a map of our site displaying various amounts of methane all over the area. Curiosity got to us and we decided, with Colin’s approval of course, to dig test pits around the upper North-West area (behind a row of trees) because it seemed like a large animal (or so it seemed according to the large amount of methane exposure on the map) was buried there. After digging 6 test pits we unfortunately found nothing though it was well worth the effort seeing as we got to view Colin, in his archaeology outfit, take the machete to the trees that were obtruding the Total Station’s view of the prism. We realised at one point that the trees were just too dense and seeing as we couldn’t chop down trees, we did what any archaeologist do in that situation, we use the GPS.

After that little experiment, which showed us how unpredictable test pits and finding objects can be, Colin decided that it was time we found the limits of Magic’s range and excitedly, we started to dig 4 test pits. One to the right (North) of Magic’s old test pit from 2007, one just to its lower left corner and two to Magic’s left (South). Anna and I worked on the test pit situated on the right which eventually became Trench # 3. About 10 cm deep we found a small tibia and a fibula. Seeing as it was close to the surface, the bones probably do not belong to a set but rather, were deposited there when the earth was turned by the framer’s tractor. Other than that, we were unable to get to the bottom swap layer because of all the huge (and I do mean huge) rocks in our way. Jason’s and MacLean’s test pit as well as Alice’s and Manu’s went much smoother and they both reached the water/swamp level. After a few jokes on the interesting smells coming from them, it was Alison’s pit from which the jack pot was found. They discovered what we think may have been an epiphysis but it was small and fractured so we weren’t sure. They also found a huge bone with the same kind of formations. Next to it sticking out of the side wall in the pit, was a ball-and-socket joint. Jason’s test pit at first revealed nothing but, upon checking the earth dump, they found a couple of bones: two un-fused epiphysis from an animal smaller than that an elephant. Both pits provided us with bones that were smaller than an adult elephant but bigger than any other animal at the park. Could it be Magic wasn’t an adult? Or was another animal placed at this exact spot and got mixed up with Magic’s bones? All this means, is that we need to dig deeper. Overall, we learned how to use the Total Station properly with the prism, that Magic’s bones continue more towards the south, that a mask and water proof gloves might be for the best next time, and that bring a whole bottle of off would be a great idea.

Ps: Group B, remind Colin that you’ll need smaller buckets to be able to get in the pits and bail out swamp water. We improvised and cut a plastic water bottle in half.

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