Greetings from 14 degrees south of the Equator. Starting Monday I'll be heading up a project at the coastal village of 'Aoa on the east end of the Island, sort of near Tula. For those of you that know the word Aganoa (of which I refer to more often than necessary) it's located right across the ridge to the south of 'Aoa.
I've been playing around on Google Earth and figured out a good way describe exactly where I am on Island. So! instead of linking you guys to a boring old google search image of a 1973 tour pamphlet, I thought I'd fire up a little twig of technology to keep us all warm, cosy and smiling...(queue scene of Horatio Hornblower clearing his throat).
Now that I've successfully instilled a deeply sewn seed of envy in your mind with my complex knowledge of Google Earth 5, we should probably get to business. Yesterday I met with a man named Siapai, who is a chief in the village of Fa'alefu-directly across the bay from my future work site at 'Aoa. He and his son-in-law will be helping me excavate during the coming weeks. We had a great time chatting away over a bag of nacho cheese Doritos under the carport and discussed the game plan for the project.
In the case that you find yourself, one of these days, suffering from the need to establish contact within a backwoods village so you can dig up their yard and take stuff to the other side of the world... here are a few tips. Be quiet-spoken, clear and concise in your words... chuckle at jokes even when you can't figure out the context, grammar, subject or punch-line, ask about his family, talk about yours...bring Doritos. Oh, and lastly, be prepared to accept any and all acts of generosity. Honestly, the last part is often the most challenging of all.
As a product of Siapai's generosity, I'll be staying with him and his family in his guest house while he is on vacation from his job as assistant principal at the local elementary school. It'll be great, I'm excited as 1). an anthropologist to hang out in a village as the only white boy and 2). living with the guys on the beach, how cool is that!
Here's 'Aoa Bay, I've marked the location of my excavations as well as Siapai's/Danny's Field Lab in the village of Fa'alefu.
The point of this project is to locate and excavate a ceramic period activity surface and recover ceramic sherds that show signs of soot from use before breakage and discard, about 2,700 years ago. And the point of this you may ask? My Graduate Advisor (Sus) and I have been using soot on the outside of ceramic vessels to establish absolute C14 dates to show when the pot was used (as opposed to relative date based on vessel form or directly associated charcoal). The benefit of this is that often one does not find charcoal in primary context with broken pots, removing any possibility of knowing when the pots were in use... but if we can date the soot on the sherd surface, well then we're golden. The fact that it works like a charm doesn't hurt either.
Here's a little coconut crab I found up in the mountains the other day. They start out on the beach as little hermit crabs then migrate up the mountain. Eventually, the fuzzy little critters outgrow their shell and begin to make homes under rocks and trees and feed on coconut meat. The up-slope plight of the coconut crab from small animal with a protective shell to large, independent mountain crab is used as a symbol of life's journey here on island... oh that I could be a large independent mountain crab.
Here's a picture I found of a grown up one, yum.