Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Home For A Rest

I'm done field work for the year.  It was a short season and I'll be back in the workshop in August.  In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy summer in St. John's. 
Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Monday, July 29, 2013

Heading Home

The season's over and I'm heading home today.  I won't miss these little guys.

I might miss some of these folks, though.
Photo Credits:
1) Lori White
2) Tim Rast

Friday, July 26, 2013

Overhead photo mosaics with a monopod

We take photos of all the tent rings and features that we dig before, during, and after excavation.   There's a constant record of all the work done on an archaeological site.  One of my favourite photo sets are the overhead photo mosaics that we do when the structures are completely opened up.  I use a small monopod to get the camera as high as possible over the site and photograph the tent rings two square metres at a time.
The final photos are stitched together in photoshop and give a good overall look at the work we've done.  This particular excavation opened up an area a little more than 4x5 m across and revealed an oval tent ring on the right and some sort of external slab feature - possibly for drying caribou meat - on the left.  This image is stitched together from at least nine individual images taken with the camera mounted on the monopod.  It required a small amount of processing in Photoshop to square up the units and remove a bit of distortion due to perspective and lens warping.  It provides an especially detailed record of the excavation, especially when there is good contrast between the feature stones and the background soil.
Photo Credits:
1: Lori White
2: Tim Rast

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Last Day Find

There is a tradition in archaeology of finding something good, but complicating, on the final day of digging.  Lori found a point with a drilled hole in the last tent ring on the last site on the last day of excavating.  It looks like a lance or arrow head and is made from a dense organic material, most likely ivory or bone.
The point came out of the ground where she is working and the day before she collected a good charcoal sample from the hearth box in front of her.  Hopefully in a few months, we'll know exactly how old the point, tent ring and site are from a radiocarbon date on that charcoal.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Broken Trowel

It was kind of a solemn day yesterday for me.  I broke my first trowel.  I bought it at the Home Hardware in Vulcan when I started volunteering on digs in High School.  Many years ago, I started carving a bird head into the handle before I realized I really didn't really know how to carve bird heads, so I abandoned that idea.  When I got to university, they told me it would never last because it wasn't a Marshalltown trowel.  It didn't even have a brand name on it, so I figured I'd just wait until it inevitably broke and get a trowel that would last.  As far as I can tell, it was with me for 23 years and 17 field seasons.

It developed a bit of a crack in the weld on the blade in recent years and it bent bad earlier this season, so I was digging carefully with it.  It looked like I might get the summer out of it, but then I kneeled on it with one of my big knee pads and it popped.  I haven't quite decided what to do with it.  I'm still carrying it around in my field kit until I get home.

Photo Credits:
1: Tim Rast
2: Lori White

Friday, July 19, 2013


The final step before we leave a site and move to the next one, is backfilling.  We pull up the grid pins and strings and all the soil and moss that we removed during the excavation gets tossed back into the holes.
Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Moving sites

Taking the final photos before flipping the rocks and backfilling the excavation.
 Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bone Dry

Drying out caribou bones in the lab.  Its important to dry the bones out slowly or they'll crack and crumble.
Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rain Days

The job doesn't stop when the weather won't let us work outdoors.  There's cataloguing, data entry, and mapping to keep us busy in the office.
Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Another River Site

We finished excavating this house and moved on to our next site today.  We'll miss the scenery.
Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tiny Bird Carving

We found this little bird carving today in a cache associated with a Palaeoeskimo house feature.  We see lots of loons on the river below the site,so we've been calling it a loon, but it could be a goose as well. What do you think?

There's a trowel blade in this in situ shot for scale.  The floating bird is carved on a peg-like tooth, most likely from a walrus.  The interior cross-section of the tooth is visible when viewed from the underside.  Sets of birds like these were tossed like dice by Inuit people for gaming or guidance.  Perhaps the Palaeoeskimos used them in a similar fashion or made them for a different purpose.
Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Friday, July 5, 2013

Popping out of the ground

Hey, Lori!

Look, a biface fragment made from the same slate as all those flakes we've been finding...

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A River Site

Here's a little site in Nunavut on a terrace overlooking a river.  The two people in the foreground are each excavating a tent ring and the person in the back middle is excavating a lithic scatter lying between the rings and the river.  Most of the little orange flags in front of him mark slate flakes.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, July 1, 2013


We're back to digging.  Its a good time of year for excavating in Nunavut.  The snow is mostly gone, its cool, and there are no mosquitoes yet.
Photo Credit: Tim Rast
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