Special Onsite Blog from the Field… Winter 2015 By Marcia Hill Gossard.
The day begins early at the Cooper’s Ferry Field School to beat the heat. Temperatures this summer soared past 100 degrees in the south side of a canyon along the Salmon River in western Idaho. The Field School is led by Loren Davis of Oregon State University. The site dates to just over 13,000 year old, which makes it an important site contemporaneous with Clovis sites. But at this site Western Stemmed projectile points have been found.
The students, many of whom have returned year after year, break into teams, get out the equipment, set up cameras, assign partners, and decide what they are going to do for the day.
On the day of my visit, one student is meticulously scraping around two rocks, tracing the sides on the top and bottom. She alternates between brushing and using a pointed tool, being careful not to disturb the area around the rocks. They believe the rocks are marking a pit that could store tools.
To her left, another student carefully carves away at the soil with a pointed trowel. Davis sees something and jumps down. A line appears to cut horizontally across the dirt. He believes it might be an indication of a double pit. He cleans up the layer with a brush made of donkey hair, because it is a modern animal thus will not lead to site contamination. They will have to keep digging to know for sure.
Davis explains they may be working in one way with one idea, but then find something that changes their thinking. “It is problem solving in 3D space.” …
Article continues in the upcoming Winter Issue of American Archaeology, on Newsstands end of November.