As predicted, sleep evaded me for most of the night, though more from an inability to find a comfortable temperature and position in my sleeping bag than from worrying about wild animals, after the first hour or so. Once I finally got to sleep for an hour or two, the sun came up at about 4:30 a.m., and some birds greeted it with a squawking sun salutation. They woke me up on and off again until it was actually time to wake-up at 7 a.m.. Never have I been so relieved to hear my alarm go off!
This morning consisted of a tour of the site which was much different than I expected. I had envisioned a semi-flat, cleared plain on the riverbank, but instead, the area is wooded right up to the river bank. The housepits are literally pits – large, circular depressions in the ground. Some are even covered by the raised river waters or half eroded away! Trees and moss grow in the pits, and it’s hard to impossible to tell where previous excavations were dug. The view from the riverbank is stunning though – mountains rise up on all sides, and the water is fairly calm and clear.
This afternoon, we went over more camp life protocol, including breakfast, dinner, and cleaning crew duties. We also had an intro to archaeology lecture which I had to fight to stay awake through (thank you, lack of sleep) and picked out recipes for the next two weeks. I got off easy on chores today because my group got assigned to breakfast… after breakfast. With my free time, I went swimming with Allysa and Max. The water was quite cold – probably about the same as Lake Michigan at this time – but once again, the view is amazing.
Just discovered seven bug bites which I think I accumulated in the time between getting out of the water and finishing the second paragraph of this. Let the itchiness begin!
This morning consisted of a lecture on the history of the Slocan Narrows Archaeology Project (SNAP) and a quick overview of how to fill out the forms that we will be using at the site. SNAP was first excavated in 2000 by a group from the University of Montana. Hamilton College partnered with Selkirk College to take over the site in 2009. The site represents the Sinixt or Lakes people, who are actually considered extinct in Canada but are recognized as one of the Colville Confederated tribes in the US. Based on the radiocarbon dates gathered from all of the accessible housepits (not the ones underwater), the first occupation was about 3105 – 2513 cal BP (which translates to about 1155 – 563 BCE). Then the site was abandoned, aligning with a gap in evidence of human presence throughout the Upper Columbia region around 2000 BP (50 BCE). From 1925 – 119 cal BP (25 -1831 AD), Slocan Narrows was somewhat continuously occupied with three more distinct time periods. Stratum III will be the occupation (or cultural) layer for the housepits.
This afternoon, we learned how to triangulate a square to get nearly perfect 90 degree angles and equal lengths. Then we put that knowledge to work by staking out units in our housepits! I will be working on excavating a 3x3m square, divided into nine 1x1m units, in the center of Housepit 7 (HP7 – yes, I did think of Harry Potter when writing this down on every form throughout the trip). My housemates are Anna and Mike with Emily as our T.A.. We pounded in our stakes for the grid, starting the hard way with triangulating each individual unit first (of course) and then discovered that it was easier and more accurate to place a tape measure at two corners of the already formed 3x3m square and stick the stakes in at the one and two meter marks. Once the stakes were in, we connected the grid with yellow line and labelled each stake with north and east coordinates. Tomorrow we will begin excavation! I am so excited!
Dinner tonight was “bangers and mash” and “mushy” peas, courtesy of Max’s time in the U.K.. Unlike last night (we stayed up reading a smutty novel called Lady Sarah’s Sinful Desires aloud, bursting out in laughter from it, and eating S’mores at the campfire), I took my first shower in the shower stall (not too bad actually) and re-organized my tent before settling in to write this. It is finally getting dark so bedtime! Hopefully the birds will shut up soon. Only one new bug bite today, but the ants at the site are nasty, biting buggers and got me several times but no welts!