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Uncovering fire scoops at Coralie Bay

Uncovering fire scoops at Coralie Bay

by Louise Furey
Fri, 13 Feb 2015

After a day off mid-excavation, everyone was refreshed and ready to continue. At site EA64, to the south of the stream in Coralie Bay, we continue to expand the excavation area and dig down through the layers.

Revealing a stone alignment

The stone alignment which attracted us to the site is sitting on the sand at the base of the upper occupation layer. This was a grey-brown stained sand under the black layer at the base of the turf.

Stone alignment revealed. It extends to the north under the grass and tomorrow we will deturf this area and expose the stones.

Frey, Louise. 2015.Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira

The grey-brown sand had obsidian flakes, and small stakeholes were also dug from this layer and the fill showed up clearly as a dark circular patch. The eastern side of the stone alignment has many circular but shallow fire scoops filled with charcoal stained sand. Only one, probably the last, contains the stones associated wth hangi and lots of charcoal.

The western side of the stones has no firescoops and the dark layer is a lot thinner on this side. It is now clear that the stone alignment is a windbreak protecting the cooking area on the eastern side from the strong westerly winds. The stakeholes are throughout the excavation area and may represent temporary shelters.

We are now progressing to remove the white sand underneath which predates the stone alignment leaving the alignment pedestaled. A test pit in the corner revealed another activity area lower down.

Hampered by the wind

The wind has not been kind to us. First it was strong wind and squally rain from the west, now it is strong wind and showers from the south east. Every day we have to clean our excavations of wind blown sand deposited during the night before we can proceed.

One of the fire scoops uncovered and sectioned in the side profile. The stones are water-rolled and have come from another beach on the island as there are no rocks like this on Coralie Bay beach.

Frey, Louise. 2015.Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Follow the Ahuahu Great Mercury Island fieldwork season

  • Post by: Louise Furey

    Dr Louise Furey is the E. E. Vaile Curator of Archaeology at Auckland Museum. Louise has been an archaeologist for 35 years and has carried out site assessments and archaeological excavations in the upper North Island. She holds an MA (Hons) and a Doctorate of Science degree from the University of Auckland.

The students prepare to head home

The University of Auckland archaeology fieldschool wraps up this week. Museum and university archaeologists will be staying on at the island to continue work on the research project.