By Emily Zimmermann
Day one of field school was a lot of fun, and also a tough reality check on what dangers the wilderness has to offer. We took a long hiking tour of several sites including a historic site and several prehistoric sites. As we hiked we learned a lot about the native and non-native vegetation. The prehistoric sites would never have jumped out at you; there was a lot of ground cover so things were hard to find, but once we knew where the sites were we found many exciting artifacts and cultural remains. At one site we found some olivella shell beads, some burnt bone, and a lithic scatter. At other sites there were cupules, these small depressions in the rock that some archaeologists hypothesize had ritual or spiritual significance because of their somewhat artful placements. At one site there were at least 8 if not more mortars, all somewhat in a row, spaced about 5-15 feet apart. It was interesting too because many of them seemed intentionally faced down. One student suggested it was to keep them from collecting stagnant water. These were probably used to process plant foods such as acorns. They were likely from the late prehistoric period when acorn exploitation was intensified. The most fun was definitely the swimming hole. We’re looking forward to passing by that swimming hole every day after the dig. As fun as that was, the hike back was pretty rough, up a long steep hill to get back. A few people had to hang back and later we brought them some water. By the time I’d reached the last stretch, I was so fed up I ran up the last 50 feet or so of the hill. When I got to the top I threw up! But I felt so much better afterwards, and at no time was it ever not worth it. Day 1: amazing!