Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 13: The Adventure Continues

Thursday was a very different kind of day! Firstly, it was sunny all day without a droplet of rain. Secondly, it all started off with a visit from BroadBand Network Three's (BBN3) Sarah Berman. Sarah (pictured below in the blurry photo) is a video journalist from BBN3's Vancouver sector, and she spent the day at our McKenzie Creek camp videoing, interviewing, and getting the classic tour and background information of the excavation site and the program. The video is not yet on the website, but we hope that it will be soon! This program seems to be getting a lot of good feedback and reviews from our visitors, which is very heartening.

As Sarah was working with Bob, the students almost fell back into their routine. Most of the excavation units, after numerous artifacts being documented, are now sterile. Andy and Suzannah, the now professional excavation unit setter-uppers, fell back into their roles and set up more units immediatly to the west of the sterile units. Some of these new units were already assigned by the end of the morning, which is good because time is flying by and we must catch up to it! Suzannah and Andy also set up some units near Paul's wooden plank area so that he can start excavating in an orderly fashion (see below).

Paul spent the day working on his project too. He had decided to measure the length and width of the boards near the ofuro in order to compare it to the wooden planks that make up the road a few meters nearby. Paul is doing this in order to rule out the possibility that his potential structure is not just a pile of logs meant for the road. The picture below is of some of the planks from the road that Paul has measured.

While the rest of us were excavating, our dear Sonya worked in the lab today with former field school student Christie Leung (a laboratory star) who volunteered to help out (see picture below). Sonya worked on her project in the lab by completing paperwork and itemizing artifacts. Her project is to compile all of the information on artifacts found from the submitted artifact forms.

Another exciting event seems to be the distribution of nicknames. Sean is now referred to as "Buttons", due to his uncanny ability to find bottles. Just kidding, he is a magnet for buttons. Suzannah, according to me, is now "Goomba", and Andy has been dubbed "Mr. Clean", for his bizarre ability to stay clean no matter the weather, and his ability to wear white shoes in the mud, for the last three weeks, without getting so much as a speck of dirt on them. In the picture below you can see (from left to right) Mr. Clean, Buttons, Verena, the back of Simon, the side of Andrea, and Tin Can Guy.

After the work was done, the gang went home, and then some went to... Karaoke Night! All organized by Buttons (Sean), who is always singing away to songs that he alters to be archaeologically related, while we work. Yes, the students are bonding, and what better way to do so than by singing horribly, and loudly to classic tunes such as "It's Not Unusual"? The social aspect of this field school is another fabulous reason to sign up for the program. Below are Goomba, Buttons, and Paul.

This week is now complete because Friday's laboratory session has been canceled, and will instead be held on Monday, so we will see you then!

Over and out!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 12: Can You Dig It?

This morning was dewy fresh with a hint of sunlight to brighten up the darkest greens, and the soil was moist making it easy to collect for those students still excavating. Sonya, Andrea, Sean, Verena, and Spencer continued on with the digging, finding, and documenting, later to be joined again by Rikki after she finished collecting her soil samples for the day. In this hearty group, Sonya dug until the soil in her unit was sterile (Ie: no more artifacts to be found in it) before she could move on to another unit. Andrea continued to make some interesting recoveries including two batteries (one of which said "Mazda" on it), and a cigarette box with a label on it (seen below).

During lunch the field school was once again greeted by smiling visitors! Lucky! (See the paparazzi picture below). Our distinguished guests included instructors and graduates from Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia. Dr. Doug Ross lectures at UBC, and SFU. Two of our visitoris, Rich Hutchings and Marina La Salle, are working on their Ph.D's at UBC. Ian Sellers, Jon Sheppard, and Craig Rust also joined us and they are graduate students in Archaeology at SFU.

After lunch Andy, Bora, Suzannah, and Brittany ventured off into the west slope once again (pictured below).

Bora was continuing his surveying, and his assistant was Brittany. Today on the hillside embedded in round and new-ish logs Bora and Brittay found two nails that looked young relative to the ones on the hillside cabin. Suzannah and Andy left their cabin area in order to help Bora and Brittany for a few moments to use the trusty (and not rusty) metal detector to see if there were any other nails in the immediate area, but none were found. Suzzanah is the metal detecting maniac (pictured below).

Another strange thing in the area where the nails were found is the short tree stump found in the picture below, with the board notch cut into it. These sorts of notches were typically cut in large tree stumps about 6 feet high, in order to make the cutting of the tree easier for loggers. This group of four were left wondering why such a small stump would have a notch cut into it when this particular tree could have easily been cut without one. If it wasn't a board notch, what was it for?

Simon and Max were taking a day off from Max's project of investigating the mystery chair, and instead were focusing on Simon's project of determining the minimum number of bottles found on the McKenzie Creek site. Simon says that the minimum number of bottles is determined by counting the bottle necks. Since there are so many glass fragments found throughout the site, counting the unique neck shape should make it easier. These two are pictured below (but they wouldn't do a funny pose).

Perhaps you will find this interesting: The picture below is of the warped glass piece that Paul found near his wooden planks. What could have misshaped this glass so much? Fire? Lightening?

After today, it seems as if more questions were asked in the field school than were answered. Some might find this frustrating, but not these students! This troop is encouraged to learn through questioning :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 11: Good Weather, Good Fun, Good Finds

After not having school yesterday, because of the Victoria Day May long weekend, the field school troop was eager, excited, and pumped up to start again today!

The weather? It was in their favour.
The uncovered artifacts? There were almost too many. (Keyword: "almost", there can never be too many.)
The pleasure of visitors? Naturally.
Nature? Three deer, one squirrel, and the typical number of crazy robins (who always seem to cross the street with the worst timing).
Time? Too fast!

The visitors that the school had today were the lovely Kaylen Riedlinger, and her brother Jeff Riedlinger. Kaylen is from the 2009 field school alumnus (and therefore went to Capilano University) and a shining star in the laboratory, who has so kindly offered to help out a little bit again this year. Jeff also went to Capilano University, and is currently the bass guitarist for the band Sam Bradley. Kaylen and Jeff came for a tour this afternoon, lead by Bob, which was perfect because the light sprinkle of rain had at that point become a distant memory.

Now, you are probably thinking "What on Earth is Jessica talking about? What artifacts were uncovered?" Well, dear reader, yes, we did hit the jackpot last week in almost every excavation unit, but most specifically Bora and Paul's plot. Today the school, once again, had the pleasure of Tin Can Guy's (aka Spencer Kitson. See last Thursday's entry.) presence, and he took over excavating the jackpot unit whilst Bora and Paul worked on their individual projects.

Tin Can Guy found some pretty important artifacts. The first was a can with a paper label attached! This paper label seems to be significant, as Spencer had said that it was the first can found to have one attached in the Seymour Valley. The can (pictured below) is thought to have contained dehydrated milk, and it has French and English writing on it that will hopefully be beneficial for diagnostic purposes.
Front of Can:

Back of Can:

The second was a coverall/overall button (pictured below) found in an old tobacco container. The writing on the button says "Carhartts Overalls & Gloves" with an indent of a heart and what appears to be a picture of a train. Hopefully the name of the company will provide some clue as to how old this artifact is. *EDIT: Special thanks to Tad McIlwraith for finding the wikipedia site on Carhartts! Yes, what I had originally misread as "Carsartts" was falsified upon further inspection of the photos with the handy zoom option.*

The third discovery of Tin Can Guy's that will be mentioned is a fully intact sealed bottle (pictured below), that appears to have been warped, and contains a mystery liquid. When the bottle was lightly jiggled there were many small bubbles that made it seem as if it were carbonated. Carbonation is very unlikely, and it probably just contains muddy rain water that seeped in.

Aside from Spencer's adventures, there were other artifacts found today. Nadia found 3.87 bottles (this blog is counting the bottle fragments as .87). See the picture below! The clear bottle that Nadia found has very odd markings that are presumed to have indicated the liquid level in the bottle. She also found a can-opening piece: the key. Verena, after working around so many deeply rooted roots, found pieces to what Bob thinks is a medicine bottle.

Can Opener Piece:

As all of these lovely forest-mates are uncovering things left, right and centre, yours truly discovered a family of deer investigating the area near the dig site. Perhaps some of you folks from far away would like a picture, so check out the one below of the mother and her fawn.

Other activities that happened today included Simon and Max adventuring off to investigate the mystery chair. Bora did some hillside surveying with Sean who found some window glass, while Suzannah and Andy examined the hillside cabin. Anja worked hard looking into the mystery depression, and then assisted Paul with the uncovering of his mystery wooden plank structure (pictured below).

Rikki worked on collecting her soil samples in the potential garden plot (see picture below).

Brittaney, Nadia, Andrea, Verena, Sonya, and Spencer worked mainly at the excavation area from last week. I also excavated in my unit, in between running around documenting artifacts, filling out paper work, hunting deer, and getting the inside story of what everyone else was up to. (Shamelessly, I have included a picture of myself while running from the tent to my unit! I found a can!)

Today went by so fast, and many of the students had mentioned, when it was time to leave, that they felt as if they had just arrived. What a fantastic day!