Tuesday, March 8, 2016
A Quick Lesson in Soils and Riverside Archaeology
This is very important for archaeologists, because along rivers like this is the best place to study ancient American Indians or any other hunter-gatherers. If the river is building the terrace up, this can create a stratified site, separating artifacts by time period (since the older stuff is buried more deeply). So we look for sites along rivers. But river terraces can be of just about any age, from hundreds of thousands of years to fifty years. We don't want to waste our time digging in soils too recent to contain much of interest, or soils that were put down before people came to North America. So we work with soils geologists to identify soils of the right age to work in. Our geologist identified this terrace (the light colored soil) as of the right age, so we have spent the past two days digging holes along the top of it. And we have indeed found an ancient Indian site, more than 3,000 years old.