54:Field School: Grandad 2008

18 12 2008

Steven Colagiovanni
This 2008 field school at Grandad was once again both an interesting learning experience and social experience. From scraping with trowels, to picking at charcoal, to playing “Will it roast?” the field school was constantly engaging.
This year’s excavation was focused on getting through the roof of the dwelling that was first discovered two years ago. The goal this year was to carefully excavate the roof removing as much of the daub (earth that was used to form the roof which then baked in the fire that destroyed the structure) as we possibly could in as big of chunks as we possibly could. It was slow going, but worth all the tedium when we found charcoalized roof timbers amongst the daub pieces that we pulled out. Charcoal made up a significant portion of the dig this year. Each team found at least one large chunk of charcoal in their units while some found dozens. We also found, what are most likely, the postholes in which the supporting poles were placed to hold up the roof. We also found various points, a few steatite beads, and a couple of steatite bowl fragments.
As far as the social aspect of field school, this was the “year of the fire.” For quite a few nights this year we started fires in an old barbeque that we found, this lead to many roasted hot dogs, s’mores, and the development of the fabulous “bacon-dog”. We also read through various books that we bought at a local used bookstore in Mariposa, including a few hilarious
texts on scientology. We also did karaoke again this year in Mariposa, but after a good ol’fashioned bar brawl erupted between a couple locals, we decided to call it a night and get back to camp. Thanks to all who came for a great year and we can all hope that people will sign up for the 2009 field school so that another fun year will ensue.
The class is from June 1-21, but you have to register for it in the Spring, so be sure you do so!

49: Coprolites Shed New Light On Past

1 05 2008

by Ashlee Dotson

New evidence pushes the time frame of human habitation of North America back by at least 1,000 years. A team, led by Dennis L. Jenkins, an archaeologist at the University of Oregon, working in the Paisley Caves in the Cascade Range in Oregon found coprolites, also known as fossilized feces, that contains human DNA and dates to around 14,000 years old. This evidence supports the findings of other parts of the Americas.

The caves had some artifacts, including baskets, animal hides and bone, and a few projectile points, but there was not a large quantity and nothing that links the inhabitants to Clovis technology. The limited number of artifacts suggests that the caves were used for a short stay.

Because of the new evidence that pre-dates the Clovis complex it is clear that the previous migration theory must be reevaluated. The theory had been that humans crossed the land bridge after the glaciers that had blocked their way melted. With the new dates the melting would not have occurred and the Bering land bridge would have been an insurmountable obstacle.

For more information go to http://www.latimes.com and search coprolites.