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Radiocarbon dating results
*****The measured C14 age for our first sample was given as 580 +/- 50 BP. I must admit to being surprised and disappointed with such a recent date and it was hard to get back into the work with the same enthusiasm as before. Still there were ways of perhaps explaining how it might happen that the sample I chose was in fact an intrusion from the upper part of the layer and that the layer itself could still represent a long term occupation.
*****So I started to investigate the now disturbed bed of the trench to try to establish exactly how the layers were oriented and link up the deposits to the opposing walls. i.e. the layers are evident on both sides of the trench but they do not match up well at first sight. I attacked the bottom with a shovel and found that it was disturbed (marbled) well below the present surface, undoubtedly due to deep tire treads or irregular shoveling by the pelleteuse. Still after digging down far enough I found an undisturbed area of the lowest layer, to my surprise, I discovered that this layer thickens towards the western wall to reach a thickness of nearly 70 cm in some points as opposed to a thickness of less than 20 cm in some areas near the opposite wall (see photographs 10, 11, 12) This was a great inspiration for I began to ask myself how it could be that this layer could arrive to a thickness of 70 cm? Certainly this might be a sign of an important and prolonged occupation.
*****Exploring this thickest part of the layer proved however rather disappointing, being a relatively uniform grey colour throughout, which contained little other than an occasional nondescript stone or shell and or the very rare piece of bone (fish vertebrae, small) and or small basalt flakes, these coming however from the very bottom of the layer. Also a deep penetration or post hole was encountered and photographed, this extended down to the hardpan coral bottom which is found at about 2 meters below the surface (photo 5.) Briefly then we can describe the lowest layer as an undulating form of variable thickness which is found roughly about 70 cm below the present surface, this layer has been formed over a shallow layer of clean sand also of variable thickness but generally about 40 to 60 cm thick under which lays broken coral and compacted sand of a whiter colour than the covering layer of clean tan coloured sand. The water table probably being just below the hardpan (depending on rainfall) I photographed the water entering my lowest excavation but I never encountered it generally (photos 1 + 2).
*****I then explored the remaining part of the lowest layer as it is found under the bottom surface of the trench by excavating transversely but soon realized that any discovery made in this area will be of uncertain value due to the complete absence of any information concerning the upper stratigraphy, just examining the profile of the trench walls revealed numerous intrusions from the upper layers (see photo 3 of an unusual intrusion).
*****So I decided rather to concentrate on exploring the lowest layer along the walls where the entire deposit still remains intact. I made a series of test pits at the wall edge to try to establish the way in which the layer was placed and to observe how it merges or rather interacts with the upper layer. A number of observations can be made here concerning this lowest layer which contains little in the thickest part but is rich with bone and stone in the thinner part where it meets the eastern wall, I discovered a number of darker areas containing shell, bone, stone and charcoal of varying quality, I gathered and bagged the more important specimens, however I found little charcoal of the quantity and quality of the sample submitted for dating. Stone was relatively rare, no intact ground artifacts were found nor did I find anything which appeared worked, blanks etc.
*****On the 19 th of September decided to continue excavating the lowest layer along the walls even though this work was causing the walls to collapse. I first discovered a darker zone in the upper part of the layer along the west wall as the layer drops below the bottom of the trench, I collected stone and bone from this area as well as photographing the layer ( photos 21+ 22). Then crossing to the other wall I searched the layer until I found a distinct discoloured zone at the bottom of the layer. Here again I discovered bone and stone, poor charcoal etc. and I photographed the discoloured part of the layer (photos 23 +24).
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