August 7, 2011 Whoa--There's a Honkin' Big Bone in Here
Just another rainy, windy, cold day in paradise here at Raven Bluff. The mosquitoes have, apparently, given up completely. Would I rather have sunshine and mosquitoes or cold, wind, and rain without mosquitoes? As I contemplated the answer to this question, I filled and carried buckets of dirt as we started to backfill the site to end the season's excavation work.
While I started to backfill at one end of the site, Joe and Tim were finishing work on two of the sections. Jeff and Steve had been working to finish the section they had started 2 days ago, and had gone through a few layers without finding any chert flakes or bone. Tim stepped in to finish off the section by excavating the last layer down to bedrock. All work stopped when Tim called out "Hey, there's a big honkin' bone down here!"
Was it a Bison bone? After careful excavation to reveal more of the bone, we could see more of the top of the bone. If you look closely at the picture, you can see a ridge in the joint at the top of the bone. When Jeff saw this, he could identify the species--it wasn't from a Bison, it was from a horse! When was the last time a horse walked across this area?? There were no artifacts found in any of the dirt at this layer, so it probably pre-dates the appearance of man in this area. The bone will be sent to a lab for radiocarbon dating to get an approximate age. What an exciting way to end the field season!!
In spite of this find, our time was up. We would be flying out tomorrow, the 8th, and had lots to do to close up the site. We lined the excavation with tarps and began the backfilling in earnest. We all took turns shoveling and dumping buckets and by 7:30pm the dirt pile was gone and the excavation site was full.
We still had work to do to get ready to leave the next morning. Screens, buckets, and tools had to be cleaned after 12 days of digging in the mud. All the equipment and samples had to be packed up for transport. The empty coolers were filled with equipment. We were done before 11pm and ready to take a break after a long day.