The rain gods smiled on us all day Saturday, keeping thunderstorms west of the site and downstream until nightfall. No bones were found, but good fortune located the dig in a section of the ancient Tarkio streambed unlike anything we’ve uncovered previously and the excavation produced a wealth of new information about the history of the watershed thanks to the efforts of geoarchaeologist Joe Artz, Geospatial Program Director in the Office of the State Archaeologist who assisted us on the dig.
A large crew of enthusiastic volunteers cleared the target area quickly and then dug several deep trenches into our clay deposit for Joe to examine. He used the walls like a professor with a blackboard tracing the evidence of the long and often violent history of erosion and deposition in the Tarkio Valley.
Slight color variations of the sediment and subtle differences in sand and clay content confirm a story that contrasts sharply with our long-held impression of placid water in the sloths’ valley. The evidence points to multiple floods cutting deeply into the clay on many occasions.
The Tarkio Valley has often been called a “hungry canyon” for its soil-devouring proclivities, but who would have guessed that history went back over 10,000 years! More photos and Joe’s preliminary report tomorrow. . . Dave