Northwest NEWS

November 2, 1998

Front Page

Archaelogists complete work at ancient site

   by Lisa Allen
   Valley View Editor


   DUVALL--For five months, archeologists have dug and sifted dirt at the location of an ancient Indian camp found recently on a terrace above the Tolt River.
   Their efforts have been fruitful. Twenty-two boxes of stone tools, flakes and spearpoints have been recovered from the 10-acre site. Experts believe the artifacts are 8,000 years old. "This is the first site like this that has ever been explored," said lead archaelogist Dr. Astrida Blukis Onat during a recent public tour of the area. "We are still finding things. The site continues to teach us about itself."
   The dig began with the discovery of stone flakes on June 1 while Seattle Public Utilities crews were scoping the area in preparation for clearing it. The company plans to use the site for backwash solids disposal for the Tolt Treatment Facility which is under construction nearby.
   Although the stone flakes were the first to be noticed, they were only a promise of what was to come. It didn't take long before a team of 30 archaelogists began to unearth spearpoints, stone tools and scrapers that were indicative of an early trading and tool making center.
   The archaelogists, coming from such far away points as South America and India, as well as the local area, focused their efforts on probing, digging trenches to study soil strata and sifting dirt to catch the smallest of artifacts.
   They enjoyed good weather for most of the dig, but increasing darkness, weather and the proximity to a bald eagle population forced closure of the site last week.
   Seattle Public Utilities is footing the bill for the archaelogical work, the cost of which is estimated to be about $2 million, said Marie Ruby, Public Programs Supervisor.
   "That includes the analysis work done after excavation," she said.
   Snoqualmie Tribal members have also been involved closely in the recovery of the items. The tribe refers to the site as Stuwe'yuk, or "Throat." The area is within the traditional territory of the Snoqualmies.
   Andy de los Angeles, Snoqualmie Tribal Chairman, found a spearpoint while participating in the dig.
   Experts think the camp was used as a fishing and trade station where its residents manufactured tools. The village also may have protected access to a nearby copper mine.
   "No structures were found, but the acid soils here cause things to deteriorate," Onat said. "We do have evidence of possible hearths which will be carbon dated."
   She said most of what was found is obsidian and quartz crystal that has been worked and flaked. Microscopic items will be studied as well, including pollen and botanical specimens.
   Onat said cultural strata indicate two sites, many years apart.
   "This is known as the Old Cascade Complex which was once a glacial plain, followed by grasslands and then forests," she said. "The inhabitants of the site probably lived here when it was a gravelly, glacial plain."
   Onat said that although that particular site will soon be buried under tons of filtration solids, there are others nearby that aren't in danger of being destroyed and will be able to be studied without the pressure of time constraints.
   Onat also pointed out to tour participants what she thought could be an old trail just downhill from the site. Last week's public tour was the last scheduled before the dig was shut down.
   Those along on the tour studied artifacts, inspected trenches, watched specialists sift soil and were given a "flint knapping" demonstration by archaelogist Rob Stone.
   "Flint knapping is old English for making square gunflints," Stone said. "It's an extension of native technology."
   Stone gave the group a view into stone age toolmaking by breaking basalt and obsidian with rocks, and then using an antler to flake an obsidian chip into an arrowhead in less than 10 minutes.
   "We've never seen anything like this before," said tour participant Odette Gustafson. She and her husband Roy, of Woodinville, said they decided to take the tour out of curiosity.