By Jenna Tidd
Photos: Surveyors at work (top) and Jenna and Brittany recording a site (bottom)
Today was our day two of our survey of project areas one and two. We continued our ten meter transects from east to west using the road and creek as boundaries. I had to mentally prepare myself for today’s survey after our first day of survey last week, during which my group was surveying pretty rough terrain with dense vegetation and steep inclines. I immediately noticed during today’s survey that the location we were at was less difficult. The gently rolling hills actually helped me do a more thorough job surveying because I was less focused on keeping my footing and avoiding poison oak and more focused on clearing groundcover and looking for materials. One highlight early on was our sighting of what looked like a barn owl flying right ahead of our line. Another highlight was actually coming across some chert flakes and potential lithic materials in several locations, one of which was very close by the site we’re going to be excavating.
These lithic materials brought up several interesting questions though, including the issue of how far from a previously identified site the cultural materials have to be in order to be considered a separate site. The only potential cultural materials we found in this case were on the top of a slope that led down to the creek and its previously identified sites. Another point some of these materials emphasized is that, particularly when looking for flakes, one of the factors you have to take into account is the quality of the material. There were some definite chert flakes found at the site next to the creek, which influenced our analysis of the potential lithic scatter we observed at the top of the slope. There were multiple potential flakes made of the same type of chert, but that were rougher on the flaked surfaces and lacked the obvious attributes that signify a flake, like a bulb of force and obviously smooth ventral surface. We had looked at this material earlier on though, and even enacted some experimental flintknapping, which resulted in a lot of shatter and some rough looking flakes similar to the ones we observed today. This led us to one possible theory that maybe individuals at the top of the ridge were testing the material, resulting in lower quality shatter which was abandoned, and taking the better quality materials and flakes down to the creek for use. Though none of this is by any means conclusive, the materials we found brought up several interesting issues that were fun to try to work through in the field.