Hello everyone! Classes start up tomorrow, and I’ve promised myself that I’m going to do a better job at blogging regularly than I have in the past. That said, I expect many of them to be along the lines of this post – brief musings not about any specific zooarchaeological topic (although I do still have plans to discuss marine reservoir corrections, stable isotopes, and ethnobiology!).
Zooarchaeology is a varied and time-consuming field. It includes excavating thousand-year-old (or, for one of my friends, 50,000-year-old) materials, cleaning it, and spending hours in a (usually windowless) lab sorting it. It also includes searching the beaches for bloated seal corpses, nagging friends for their kills (“Why can’t you pack out the entire caribou skeleton? I need the vertebrae!”), and excitedly pulling the car over when you spot a freshly-hit porcupine (much to your husband’s dismay). Although by far my least favorite part of the job, finding and processing comparative specimens is incredibly important. Where would we be without them?
I’ve just finished cleaning and labeling the lovely comparatives I acquired in the field this summer (thankfully all found in late stages of decomposition), and can now turn my attention to the three archaeofaunal assemblages waiting to be analyzed. Site locations: St. Paul Island, Cape Espenberg, and Cape Denbigh, Alaska. Unfortunately I only helped excavate one of these sites – something that I’m beginning to realize is quite common for zooarchaeologists. It appears that there is a back log of faunal remains waiting to be analyzed, and not a whole lot of people chomping at the bit to do so. Probably because most of us get into this profession for the field work, not the lab work. I do, however, think that lab work is easier for those of us working in the Arctic – we’re forced indoors during the winter! Here in California the archaeologists can work year-round; their will power is greater than mine.
Hats off to those archaeologists who choose to do lab work while the ground is temptingly unfrozen and visible!