Message #32:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: Archaeologists Adapt to Culture/Environment Being Studied
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 97 14:30:00 MST
Encoding: 28 TEXT


[When I forget my Marshalltown trowel, my wife tells colleagues and anyone 
within earshot that I suffer from 'Some-t-heimers' disease -- SASIG Ed. ]

From : Charles F. Merbs  

The experimental use of glass insulators by archaeologists to produce tools 
that would not be confused with the real thing reminds me of my first field 
trip to the Canadian Arctic in 1959.  Inuit (formerly known as Eskimos) took 
us to our site by dogsled and left us there, totally isolated from the 
outside world.  We had planned well for the "dig," including everything we 
thought we would need, but, as it turned out, we had forgotten to pack our 
trowels.  How could one possibly excavate, at least in 1959, without 
trowels?  The answer lay in the seal (Phoca hispida) skeletons, specifically 
the scapulae, lying about the site.  By changing the shape of the scapula a 
bit, and giving it a sharp edge, it could serve very nicely as a trowel.  We 
had solved our trowel problem, but we had to be very careful not to leave 
these altered seal bones behind lest they be mistaken for genuine Inuit 
artifacts (some kind of scraper?).  I think we ended up destroying them; 
perhaps we should have kept them as a little monument to forgetfulness and 
adaptation.

May there always be skeletons in your closet!
Charles F. Merbs      cfm9336@IMAP1.ASU.EDU
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