Cruising the Gravel Pits

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So many rocks! Perfect for a gravel pit, so annoying to test!

I am actually quite pleased to discover that Margarita, the archaeologist I’ve been working for, is just as directionally challenged as I am. This doesn’t really help us get where we are going but at least I’m not alone! I was a bit intimidated by Sarah’s ability to know exactly where we were in the forest at all times last summer. It’s nice to see she might be the oddball.

Our first gravel pit of the trip was located near Grande Prairie, luckily we were shown where the pit was located  – it saved so much time. Although our guide mentioned seeing a bear on the way into the pit, we didn’t see it so we weren’t sure if he was just testing us to see if we would be squeamish about it or if it was really there. Regardless we made a thorough amount of noise the entire time. Have of the area was already a gravel pit – oops. But there were some decent areas for us to test, areas amidst the thick, prickly rose bushes….thick with mosquitoes – how could I forget about the mosquitoes?! But there was nothing but cobbles, tons and tons of cobbles everywhere.

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Oh hey, where did the road go?

Our next pits were several hours away, close to Stetlar (if you’ve never heard of it, that’s ok). We pushed on through the pouring rain and got to the first site late in the afternoon, we were hoping to do it quickly so that we could then focus on the larger pits the next day. However, the rain slowed our testing down and as we drove up we saw a barn. Once a structure is over 50 years old it is considered to be archaeology/historic so we need to record it more thoroughly. In the end we only managed to test along the creek before it got too late into the evening. DSCN0882Thus we had to return in the morning to test around the foundations of the barn, record the other outlying buildings and take some black and white photographs (with real film! The photos need to be of archival quality so that they don’t degrade like normal pics do – nice thought but a bit annoying to carry out in practice).

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When recording the buildings they’ll want to know how the windows were framed, the style of roof, what kind of foundation is present, what kind of doors are there and how are they constructed, what materials were used, was it built at once or added to over time, etc.

Our last set of gravel pits looked so promising on the maps – close to an established water source, well defined margins that could have been camped on…but alas, we found nothing here either (well except for cows that insisted on following along as we tested). The majority of the area had been previously cultivated, so any stone features that might have been there would have been removed for plowing years and years ago. The rest of the areas that looked really great – scenic points over looking the river valley on nice level ground, were all just outside of our project footprint so we weren’t allowed to test them. DSCN0900Curse those surveyors, they’re getting too good at avoiding all the hot spots for archaeology. But some day we will find something cool, some day!

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