back *****************VOLUME 17 page 2 ***************** next page

Preliminary Evidence
*****Even within the first few test pits, it was becoming evident that there was little evidence of deep deposits or layers. This was but confirmation of random observations made previously where in most cases (such as trenches dug for foundations or garbage pits) there was no sign of deep deposits. There was however some evidence of layering. This was not in the sense of distinct layers separated by clean sand, but rather by the presence of compacted soil, or slightly darker or lighter coloured layers.
*****In the absence then of significant buried layers, it was to be assumed that most of the cultural deposits would be then contained within the upper 30 to 40 cm and that these deposits would be greatly disturbed by deep tilling and other modern farming methods. Test pit#3 at HANATAI was deliberately placed within the known disturbed area and the typical marbling of tilled soil was found evident down to as far as 40 cm. below the surface. However a post hole discovered within this excavation clearly showed the limits of the disturbance as evidenced by the uniformity of the soil colour below the marbled upper layer.
*****Having established, to a certain extent, some idea of what a disturbed soil looks like we then moved on to excavating areas where we hoped to find undisturbed deposits. Test pit #4 at TEAOA demonstrated not only a relatively thick undisturbed upper layer but also sealed in fire pits. A distinct lower, grey layer appeared to be associated with one of the pits while a darker middle layer may have been included in an adjoining fire pit. A second test pit (Test pit#6) was attempted some 7 meters distant to Test pit#4 in the hopes of finding an extension of the grey layer, however another deep fire pit was encountered, this also appeared sealed in by an undisturbed upper layer and distinctions such as a decidedly grey layer were not so evident. See also Volume 15 Map 15.1a and b, TEAOA and HANATAI Field designations and Artifacts.
*****It was anyway fortunate to encounter fire pits where ample charcoal samples could be recovered. At the TIIRUA site in Test Pit#7 another deep fire pit was encountered as well as adze fragments which may have actually been interred when the fire pit was in use.. The adze fragments being rather dark in colour and of more recent fully pecked types, were found well below the surface (30 cm). Thus I am inclined to think that the pits will be found to be of a more recent era than those at TEAOA.
*****After 9 test pits, time was already running short and I wanted to at least commence excavations at the ANUA site, where I suspected we might find early deposits, (see Volume 16). At ANUA we had not yet localized the full extent of the deposits and so had to take pot luck on a likely looking spot for Test pit#10. A relatively clear spot was selected within the windbreak, where the ground appeared undisturbed. After quickly troweling away the upper 10 or 15 cm Mari Mari was disappointed to find what looked to be the beginning of sterile. The upper layer containing mostly humus was quite dark and the cleaner sand below seemed to indicate that we had not selected the right spot. Still I was determined to find out if anything might be found lower, and so it was decided to shovel down through the relatively sterile sand. The sterile looking sand slowly darkened as I approached the 40 cm depth and the next few shovels broke through into a decidedly darker layer. At this point it was evident that the excavation should proceed normally down to the dark layer, perhaps at last we had found a deep deposit.
*****Test Pit#10 turned out to be quite different from the previous 9 excavations. What appeared as sterile sand, was a relatively discoloured yet quite clean layer of sand extending down to over 40 cm from the surface. It terminated in a rather abrupt shallow layer of Pahua shell debris mixed with basalt flakes and flake tools. Beneath this layer was found two lower lenses of blackened sand the lowest part of which extended below 60 cm from the surface. The darkened lenses may have been ash from fire pit activities but were generally devoid of solid charcoal of any significant size, or any other solid material with the exception of the occasional fragment of Pahua shell (soil samples and shell were collected from the lowest levels). I was quite certain that we had at least found at the Pahua and flake tool layer an early deposit and latterly extended the excavation to explore this layer. A large amount of charcoal (over 100 grams) was recovered from just below the 40 cm level, about 35 cm beyond the eastern side of Test Pit#10.
*****Further but limited excavations at the ANUA site failed to confirm the presence of a distinct occupation layer at or below the 40 cm depth, however these Test Pits (11&12) were placed at quite a distance from Test Pit#10. Certainly further excavations are warranted at this site in an effort to localize the full extent of this early deposit.

Return to the top of the page

Link to page 3***** page/link INDEX *****file INDEX*******Artifact/Diagram INDEX