Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pictures and Video

My pictures and video of the sites appear to be too large for the blog. If anyone has any ideas to get them up here, let me know or feel free to get the file from me (I have a USB with me). I am totally not a computer person and I could be doing it totally wrong. Thanks!!!

First day on the preserve 6-16-10

Today we spent the day at the preserve. It is a very beautiful place. Pictures just cannot relate the beauty. Hills and mountains seem to roll like waves across the landscape. With the grasses already turned to gold, and the foxtails waiting for a host, we wound our way along a dirt road to our first site: where we all became full blown hosts to the foxtails. We first went to a site that Julie excavated, Tashlipun. This site is historic and prehistoric. We explored for awhile and identified quite a bit of artifacts that had been dug up by the ground squirrels. Some examples are shell, bones, charcoal, ceramics, and flakes, among other things. We ate lunch at a covered picnic area while plucking foxtails from every place possible. We were then off to the next site: Lizard Cave. This rock art site functioned as a solstice calendar. It is quite colorful and has many paintings. The birds also love this site and have made it their home by building nests all around it. In order to actually get inside the cave, we had to climb a bit. It was rather challenging but pretty fun at the same time. Julie and Dave helped us climb in and out; otherwise I probably never would have made it up! We moved onto the next site (of which Julie has also excavated) after everyone explored the cave. At Three Springs there is a little wetland/marsh area with lots and lots of birds chirping away. It was rather peaceful listening to them while they played and dashed throughout the marsh. As for the squirrels residing at Three Springs, they apparently are not archaeologists as at Tashlipun, for there were few artifacts that they had found. Around the corner a bit, there is a very small cave that required a one at a time sequence for everyone to see it. It took quite some time. The cave was certainly worth the wait. With Dave’s help in identifying the designs, it really came alive. It would have been nice to be able to sit there and analyze it for awhile.

Throughout the day, everyone enjoyed our opportunities to see the wildlife. We were lucky and witnessed a herd of mother and baby Tule Elk running up a hillside. There were over or around 50, according to Jessica who was able to count them in the picture she took. There were so many, but I think the highlights were the coyote, Tule Elk, the deer, and all the cute rabbits. We left later than planned; I believe just a bit after 5pm. It was nice to be back and be able to shower!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Magnetic Poetry

The last week of the project has been a great week.

Friday and Saturday part of the group journeyed to Yosemite Nation Park. We spent Friday night at Anna's house(Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Antoniou- we loved the fruit!) and then went to the park Saturday. Our first stop was at the Mariposa grove, The Giant Sequoia Trees

After seeing the trees, we headed down to the Yosemite Valley, ate lunch, went on a small hike, and played in a refreshing water fall. Then we went up to Glacier Point and enjoyed the spectacular views Yosemite had to offer.

Sunday was our last day on site. We finished up the units and back filled them. We worked on some auguring, which Anna really enjoyed. Some topography was also done. Finally, we packed up all of our gear and left site.

The rest of the week has been spent doing post-ex work. We have had several intersting lectures on different aspects of archaeology. We worked on a lot lithics analysis. We learned how to do flotation. We visited the Oil Museum and Lake View Gusher Num 1!

Thursday, the group returned once more, to Wind Wolves to say goodbye to everyone there and and visit a few sites . We saw several sites that had previously been excavated and also a site that will be excavated next year. We also returned to one of our sites where we picked up the last of our gear and discussed what we would like to have accomplished next year. Then we headed out of the preserve stopping by a cool historic house, Dorothy's house.

This week has also included a lot of fun recreational activities! Including: bowling, multiple trips to Jolly Cone (our favourite local ice cream shop!), a Bakersfield Blaze game, and of course, lots of board games!

During the project we did a lot of fun things that never got posted... SO! Here's some more stuff that we did!
Mt. Pinos- The Centre of the Chumash Universe. On a day off Greg, Dave, Jessica, and Fraser decided to make the journey to the centre of the universe. It was a beauitiful drive to the mountain. We stopped at Pine Mountain Club for some lunch at The Screaming Squriell which was intersting and satisfying. The actual hike was fun and easy and cool to see the area.
We made team t-shirts!!! Here's a picture of Dave modeling the shirt!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fraser's Olde Towne British Trail Mix Shoppe

A belated update as we come to the end of fieldwork--

We finished at our first site on Wednesday. The last days included a lot of landscape work: mapping with the total station, augering, and just thinking about the areas we'd covered. All of us have learned how the total station operates and used it to survey in points from the excavation and of the topography. The augering (which has become a very popular activity) showed that the slope opposite to the excavation is made of a silty clay, whereas our test pits were in a sandy silt area. The augering has been helpful practice for distinguishing among sediment types.

We can also see, leaving the site, that there are probably a lot more traces of activity throughout the upper plateau at areas other than where we've excavated. We've come across a lot of surface finds, including a nice lithic by the flat, open, scenic place where we screened our sediment (of course). The finds from the site overall are looking like Late Period, which is some help to locating the rock art temporally--although the finds from the shelter on the lower plateau might also contribute to that.

On Tuesday we visited Carrizo Plain and the Painted Rock pictograph site. The site has been open to the public for a long time as evidenced by the names and dates engraved on the rock formation and in many cases over the pictographs; a lot of the images are also eroded from wear. It's a good site for thinking about reasons for protecting rock art sites. Even though it's disappointing to see the pictographs covered over and worn away like that, the range of modern graffiti over the formation attests to the connections that many other people have formed with the site. And of course it's more than just disappointing to a lot of contemporary Native Americans who value that place, but the BLM has to balance those concerns with the use and availability of public land.

Anyway, we also saw a rock with a lot of BRMs.

More recently, we have been working at a quarry site that might help to answer some other questions about the rock art sites--but more on that to come in a later post.


We still haven't found the Lakeview Gusher.

But we did do some haircuts!

You should never breathe dirt, no matter what kind of diseases are in it.
Bonus tip! Don't pile rocks next to your unit.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Touch of Class... Out of the Wilds and into Society

After a great week on site, we ended the week with a trip to The Getty Villa on Friday. It was very interesting and we were taken behind the scenes and shown two of the conservation labs located there. We were able to see several artifacts in the process of being restored. Our guide, also talked to us about many of the issues they come upon when trying to restore the objects. Even though the materials they were working on were different from the artifacts we excavate (bronze & ceramics vs. lithics) the issues about artifact conservation were the same. First about preserving artifacts and sites, while still making them accessible to the public. Also, whether more moderation restorations should be preserved or remove... which is similar to rock art sites and their modern additions.

(left to right) Wendy, Bryan, Jessica, Fraser, David, Greg
Jack, Gale, Dawn, Christina, Anna, Julie

After our tour of the labs, we spent several hours touring the Getty Villa itself. It had a lot to offer, including many cool exhibits including The Chimaera of Arezzo and Roman Ephebe from Naples. The Villa also offered beautiful gardens over looking the pacific ocean.

The Getty Villa Gardens

The trip ended with a 7 hour excursion home which included a planned tripped to the beach and and unplanned detour home through the Mojave.

Our Route Home!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Week of Research.

Unfortunatley I have been sick all week, but on the positive side I did research on the Yokuts. After discussing possible ideas for a master theisis with Dave he suggested that I investigate research done on the tribe in the southern valley. What I found, was most of the research was in linguistics and that there was a dearth of information conserning lithics, rock art, and trade practices with the inland and coastal Chumash. This has given me a motivation and focus on ideas for possible research as I approach my masters studies beginning in August 2009.

I am excited to get back out in the field and continue the archaeology that we have been preforming at Wind Wolves. I also look forward to excavating the pigment site!!

So far my favourite part of the excavation has been the discovery of lithics and manuports. The idea that peoples from hundreds to thousands of years ago manipulated and touched these objects constantly excites me. This is the main motivation and excitment that spurns me forward in my desire to broaden my education in archaeology of the southern portion of the San Jaoquin Valley.

Written By: Bryan

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Onwards and downwards

This week has seen a lot of activity on site. As the first units bottomed out and were recorded we began to discuss what we had learnt, and if we felt we had answered the questions we came to the site with. It became clear that we still had work to do in order to better resolve what the relationships between the upper and lower activity areas might have been, and what variety of actions which took place on site. As such, a new larger (2x2m) unit was opened on the upper area of the site. Within minutes of beginning to excavate Christina and Anna were finding high densities of materials; ranging from large cores through to small bits of stone working debitage and fish vertebrae.

Just as the finds began to increase, so did the temperature. The crew are all coping well and possibly find David and I constantly asking 'are you drinking enough water', 'do you need to sit in the shade' more difficult to deal with than the heat itself.