As I write this preparations are being made at the Gault Site to take the last dating and geological samples. We hope to finally close up and backfill Area 15 in late May/Early June thus ending another chapter in the sites long history. We will continue to give tours of the site – in fact we are currently assessing our needs for new trail signage etc.- and run educational programs at the site but the excavation work will be completed. This is the last bit of information needed for the current book project on Clovis and Older than Clovis at Gault.
Erin Keenan, our zooarchaeologist, just reported to me that her initial ZooMS (Zooarchaeological Mass Spectrometry) runs look great. If we can get collagen from bone fragments we can do what is called peptide fingerprinting which can be particular to a genus/species making it possible to identify previously-unidentifiable bone. Since much of the bone from paleoindian sites is unidentifiable this process has the potential to tell us much more about early subsistence at Gault and sites like it.
Brendan Nash just returned from a fellowship at the Institute of Rock Magnetism at the University of Minnesota. There he learned how to process our paleomagnetic samples from Gault. These samples, drilled cores from burned rocks, can tell us how hot the rock was heated to originally and if it has been moved. This information helps us understand both burned rock oven cooking as well as site disturbance. There is also an outside chance (with a great deal of extra work in the future) to create a database that can give you an approximate date for the burning.